Thursday, November 12, 2009

Spices, Speak to Me

The Mistress of Spices is sort of like the wort-cunning herbalist witch archetype, only with (Asian) Indians and a Bollywood star whose "acting" is very stylized, mostly about eye makeup.

We ordered it from Netflix months ago, and it finally reached the top of our queue.

The whole movie is so stylized that it is more like a music video than a film. Artiness trumps story.

M. says it reminded her of Chocolat.

Will the spices win out over earthly love? Three guesses.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

On the Road

I will be on the road or in the land of longleaf pine for the next four days, so posting will probably be non-existent until around May 5th.

Yes, vitamin C and oshá are on the menu. I have a magical faith in oshá, especially from the Taos Herb Co. I just squirted some tincture into my wine, which makes it taste sort of like retsina.

Meanwhile, links:

Fifty things every 18-year-old should know. Some of them would have helped me, for sure.

•Here is a Web page of re-creations of ancient statuary -- which was not all white marble! (One of the small details that I appreciated in the Oliver Stone's Alexander, for all its other goofs.)

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Goatheads are good for something?

Every gardening writer likes to write about reading seed catalogs as the midwinter snow falls.

So I won't do that. I will just mention that I was perusing the new Richter's catalog as ten inches of fresh powder--well, OK, it is more than a cliche. It happens.

"What the hell," I said. "They're selling goatheads!" Also called puncturevine. Tribulus terrestis. Nasty, invasive, spreading Eurasian weeds whose multi-pointed seed capsules can bring a dog to a whimpering standstill, not to mention being hard on bicycle inner tubes.

M.'s response was to pass me a copy of Charles W. Kane's Herbal Medicine of the American Southwest, which she had just brought home from the Pueblo library. (We may have to buy it.) She held it open to the section on puncturevine.

It turns out to be helpful for moderate hypertension, to increase male libido (herbal Viagra?), and to contain some natural steroids.

Many men using the plant often notice a related sense of increased physical strength and will -- a good tonic for older men and the metrosexual alike.

I consider Michael Moore (not the filmmaker) to be one of the best Southwestern herbalists.

He contributed the foreword, noting, "Charles has written an impeccable book."

Here is Kane's border-country spin on the usual herbalists' advice on wildcrafting--gathering plants in the wild:

Collect away from roadsides, inner city areas, industrial sites, agricultural areas, and heavily traveled foot trails -- explaining yourself to every busy-body hiker gets to be tiresome, although visibly packin' heat usually limits conversation to furtive glances.

Although a short drive takes us to eastern Fremont County, Colorado, which is sort of the last outlier of the Chihuahuan Desert, a lot of Kane's plants are hundreds of miles away. But about half of them are here.

Methods of preparation are clearly described, and the plants are illustrated with color photos and Frank Rose's meticulous botanical paintings.

If you live in the Southwest and you like to take care of some minor ills yourself or learn some herbal first aid, you should have it.

(Cross-posted to Nature Blog.)


Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Traditional Medicine versus Addiction

As long as I'm blogging the BBC, let me point out this story on the effectiveness of traditional therapy, including the use of entheogenic ("psychedelic") plants in a shamanic context to overcome drug addiction in Brazil.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Witchcraft Medicine

Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants is a collaboration between three German anthropologists: Claudia M =üller-Ebeling, Christian Rätch, and Wolf-Dieter Storl. I ordered it because I'll read anything that R�tsch has written, and, unfortunately, not enough of his work has been translated from German to English. (The translator here is Annabel Lee, whose work also appears in the journal Tyr -- see the October 18 entry.

The book is more a study of cultural transformation using texts and art work. The three "explore the demonization of nature's healing powers and sensuousness, the legacy of Hecate, the sorceress as shaman, and the plants associated with witches," to quote the back-cover blurb.

This book is more historical than hands-on; from a practitioner's position, I would rank it behind Dale Pendell's work. But it's still fascinating and inspiring.

One warning: don't trust anthropologists making etymological arguments. "Cathar" (the heretics) does not derive from the German word for "tomcat." (Storl gets it right: it's from the Greek word for "pure.") Nor does Boogie-Woogie, I will bet, derive from the same Indo-European root as the Russian Bog, "god."

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