Sweet Violets

During April and May, Elsie loves to go out in the forest by her cottage where sweet violets are blooming beneath the trees.  For just a few moments, the air is filled with the most beautiful fragrance – and then, like the whisper of fairy wings, it is gone!  That’s because this funny flower likes to play tricks on your nose.

Magically, Violets are used for good luck and divination.  Carrying the flowers is said to bring you good luck the dried petals are often added to Dream Pillows.

Sweet Violets are wonderful for when you have a bad cough or chest cold.  They will also ease the sore throats and headaches that people sometimes get when they’re sick.  You can use the leaves and flowers to make a tea – or you can take your medicine in an even tastier form:

Violet Syrup

Pick about 4 cups of fresh violets.  Rinse any dust off and put them in a deep bowl.  Pour 2 cups of boiling water over them, cover the bowl and let it sit in a warm room until the same time tomorrow.  Strain the liquid through a colander that’s been lined with cheesecloth or coffee filters.  In a saucepan, boil 2 cups of water with 6 cups of sugar and the juice from one lemon until it makes a thick syrup.  Add the violet water and boil about 10 minutes longer until you again have a nice syrup.

Take a spoonful of the syrup whenever you need to.  Or you can make a wonderful drink by putting a couple of spoonfuls in a glass with ice cubes and soda water.


Chamomile – a Sunny Herb 

Chamomile is such a wonderful herb!  It not only helps when you have a tummy-ache or trouble getting sleepy at bedtime, it’s pretty little yellow and white flowers don’t mind if you walk on them and actually say “hi” by releasing a sweet apple fragrance.  

This is one herb that is especially fun to plant. Just get a box of chamomile tea from the grocery store and rub the dried flowers between your hands over the area where you want them to grow.  Then, play some lively music and do a Happy Dance on top of the seeds.  They like it!

Your dancing will help them come in good contact with the earth since you don’t bury them like you do most seeds.  Chamomile seeds need to see the sun in order to grow! 

They also need to stay a little bit wet so, when your dance is over, use your garden hose to spray them with a fine mist.  (Careful - you don’t want to wash the tiny seeds away!)  Do this every day, as often as you need to in order to keep the ground damp.  Soon, you’ll see tiny, fern-like leaves followed by bright little white flowers with sunny yellow centers.  These flowers are the part of the plant you use – not the  not the leaves.  

Chamomile is known as the “Plant Doctor” because anything you plant it next to seems to grow better and healthier.  This little herb is good for you too.  In the old days, they would have said it is “sovereign both inside and out”.  That means it’s good to use on your outside parts (hair, skin, even booboos) and it’s also good for your insides as a tea. (Remember - it was chamomile that Peter Rabbit’s mother gave him when he wasn’t feeling well?)  One of Elsie’s favorite cures for an upset stomach is her:

 Tummy Tea Sipper
Combine equal parts of mint leaves and chamomile flowers to make a strong tea.  Then mix this half and half with some ginger ale soda and sip it until your tummy feels better.  (try to get ginger ale that actually has ginger in it.  Verner’s is a good brand)

 (Pooka’s Tips to Parents:  Chamomile is so safe it’s even given to babies who are fussy from teething.  However, it can make anyone who is allergic to ragweed or pollen pretty miserable).



You know the green curly leaf that restaurants are always putting on your plate?  That’s Parsley.  I’ll bet you always just left it there and never even tasted it, didn’t you?  You thought it was just some stupid grown-up’s idea of a way to make the meal look pretty and take up room on the plate.  Well, actually, it is.  But it’s a lot more than that!

  Back in the old days (and we’re talking all the way back to the ancient Romans here), Parsley was used to get rid of stinky breath and also to help settle your tummy after a large or spicy dinner.  You might want to think about that the next time you have an extra helping of spaghetti and garlic bread, hmm?


  This herb is sacred to the Goddess Persephone and has often been associated with death.  The Greeks made wreaths of Parsley to hang on the graves of loved ones.  However, it is also a protection amulet and the Romans used to tug a sprig into their clothes in the morning to see them safely through the day.  You can also use Parsley for purification by adding a cup of the tea to your bathwater.

It’s an easy herb to grow, but be patient.  The seeds take a long time to sprout – sometimes up to 6 weeks.  (Maybe that’s why the Christians used to say that Parsley goes to the devil seven times before it grows.)  When winter comes, you can move your plants indoors to a sunny windowsill. 

If you move, be sure to leave your Parsley behind and start with fresh plants in your new garden.  Otherwise, it’s considered very bad luck!


Herbal Cold Remedies

Pooka had a bad cold this year.  Elsie doctored him up with chicken soup (he liked that!) She put a kettle of hot water on the hearth and added eucalyptus leaves and the steam that soon filled the room helped him breath.  The eucalyptus also helped kill any cold germs floating in the air.

There’s only so much you can do when a kitty has a cold.  But when you have one, there are many more herbs you can use and ways in which you can use them.

 Special Bath that Granny Witch used to prepare for her. 

Granny would mix equal parts of lavender, wintergreen, camphor and rosemary oils with some sea salt or kosher salt.  She’d make it pretty strong and then dump a few handfuls into a bath with the water as hot as Elsie could stand it.  Then, Elsie would climb into the bath, draw the curtains around the tub to keep the steam in, and sink down til the water was almost up to her chin.  There, she’d just relax, inhaling the therapeutic (healing) fragrance.  After about 10 minutes, the water would suddenly too warm!  That’s because the wintergreen oil in the formula opens the pores (tiny little breathing holes all over your skin)

 At that point, she’d jump out and Granny would bundle her up all nice and warm so she didn’t get chilled and give her a nice hot cup of Cold Tea,

Granny's Cold Tea

3 Parts each of Mullian, Coltsfoot, Peppermint, Licorice, Ephedra (Ma Huang) and one part fresh ginger.

Put about 3 tablespoons of the herb mixture into a teapot.  Add 2 cups of boiling water.  Put the lid on and let it brew for about 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey and add lemon.

 Granny Witch also would make a Cough Syrup that sounds yucky, but is, in fact, yummy!  When Elsie was little, she would even pretend to cough so Granny would give her some.

Granny's Cough Syrup

Thinly slice one red onion.  Layer the slices in a bowl, sprinkling each layer liberally with brown sugar.  Cover the bowl and set in the refrigerator overnight.  The next day, strain off the syrupy brown liquid and take a tablespoon of this as needed for coughs.


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