Reclaiming Ourselves – Food & Medicine: Part 3

I also know what it’s like to struggle to live day to day, and so I’m a believer in making the most of what you have. Exotic plants and ingredients are certainly alluring, but what’s the point of learning to use them if you can’t get hold of them, for whatever reason? It just makes sense to use what you already have or is readily available.

From Emma Kathryn

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Reclaiming Ourselves – Back to Basics: Food & Medicine (Part 2)

Last time I wrote about food and medicine, but in doing so, I barely scratched the surface and so here’s part 2! I often say within witchcraft to take what works for you and discard the rest and the same applies here too. The aim with these articles is to share some of the knowledge, tips and advice I’ve picked up along my way in the hope that they will come in useful to you in your own struggles against Capitalism.

Food

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Feeding yourself and your family can be expensive, especially when you try to eat well, and especially if you rely on supermarkets to do so. The tips offered here will save you some money, but more importantly, will help you regain a measure of independence.

So here’s where it might get a little controversial, but I’m going to talk about going meat free.

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was about seven years old, but it’s only really been the last year or so where I’ve ditched dairy and eggs (I can’t claim veganism though as I do still use honey and eat avocado). The driving issue for me to ditch dairy was the factory farming industry. There is no denying that those animals are amongst some of the most abused creatures on the face of the planet, and that the industry is a huge contributing factor in climate change, and all for our demand for cheap meat and animal products.

So why ditch meat? If you want to eat cheaper, then ditching meat is the obvious choice but it is also a massive lifestyle change, which is why so many struggle and fail. If going vegetarian or vegan is something you’ve been toying with for a while, then easing yourself into it is an option. The easiest way is to try going meat free for one or two days a week.

Another issue many face is that they don’t know what to eat instead. Honestly, it is usually the first question people ask me when I tell them I don’t eat meat. There are a wide range of vegan and vegetarian products out there, like lookalike meat, or ready meals, and that is great, but doesn’t help in the learning to cook for ourselves. These products can also be pricey, which is another reason people are put off. For example, when I went to my local Pagan Pride, vegan burgers cost £6! Six bloody quid! Talk about rip off. But, when you cook for yourself, eating vegan is a whole lot cheaper. Think about things like beans and pulses. Chickpeas, butter beans, kidney beans etc are ultra cheap, costing as little as 30p a tin and nutritious too. And do not fear bland and tasteless food! Seasoning is your friend! Ultimately though, whether you decide to go vegan or vegetarian is up to you, but by cutting down on your meat consumption, you’ll help the planet and save yourself some cash in the process.

And so the controversy continues….hunting! So if cutting out meat is not an option for you, then learning to hunt for your own meat is another way in which you can rely less on the State. I know it may come across as weird, for a vegetarian, would be vegan to talk about hunting, but I grew up and still live in a rural town. My father was a poacher in his younger days, and so my sisters and I grew up with hunting  and fishing as a viable way to get food.

But even for those of us who live in the countryside, hunting (always for food, never for ‘sport’) and fishing can still seem weird to people. A friend of mine marvels that my son and his friends enjoy spending their time fishing. He couldn’t believe it, whereas I was in shock because he’d never been! Whether you just learn the basics, giving yourself knowledge and skills for the future, if you should ever need them, will only be of benefit. When it comes down to it, I always figure it’s best to know something and never need it than to need it and not know it!

And with that, let’s touch upon ethics momentarily.

The other year, I bought my partner an air rifle as a gift. When I was talking about it with a friend, they couldn’t believe that I would or could condone hunting. After all, as someone who doesn’t eat meat and who cares for animals, how could I justify buying my partner a gun that he would use to shoot rabbit? For me, it’s easy. That rabbit will have had a better life and a better death than anything bought from a butchers or supermarket. Now, I was telling a pagan friend of mine this, and he happened to disagree with me. He said that for him, that just means that another animal has had to die without alleviating the suffering of the countless farm animals. And I take his point, I really do, but it is precisely that attitude that hinders any movement away from factory farming. I also think that if folks could only eat the meat that they killed themselves, then you would see a rapid reduction in meat-eating.

Anyway, it’s up to the individual to decide their dietary needs and wants, but it’s all about building up that skill set, whether that includes eating meat or not. Learning to cook, but also learning where to source food from will become vital in the future.

Medicine

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Many of the items I use in my folk remedies are items that I’ve foraged for locally. It’s so important to learn what grows where and how to use it properly as well, so the first step in healing yourself is getting to know what grows where you live. Get yourself some good identification guides and get yourself out!

But once you’ve foraged and harvested your items, then you’ll want to know how to prepare them for medicine. Some ingredients will always be best used fresh, for example any plant items used in poultices (I’ll discuss these soon) or in anything that is to be used or consumed straight away. If you’re making medicines to keep in a cupboard or first aid box, then preserving any plant matter is a must, else it’ll spoil whatever you make. To dry your foraged goods, you do not need any fancy equipment. Simply bunch your plant matter together by the stems, tie up and hang somewhere warm and dry until they are dry and crispy to the touch. Alternatively chop them up into  small pieces and leave on on a warm windowsill or radiator to dry (either in a muslin cloth or a loose weave basket). And to dry things that don’t bunch together easily, chilli peppers for example, simply thread a needle and push through the thin stem until you have a string of chillies. Hang to dry.

Some of the easiest medicines to make are tinctures. Tinctures are quite simply plant matter steeped in alcohol. You can make washes and waters the same way, but I prefer making mine with alcohol; vodka, rum, brandy, or whatever spirit you have to hand, though it does need to be at least forty percent proof, in order to keep the ingredients from spoiling. And I like using alcohol because some active ingredients within the plants will not be water-soluble, and quite often it is these compounds that are the active ingredient. That’s not to say waters and decoctions are not useful – they certainly can be, especially for when compounds are water soluble, but if in doubt, making a tincture is the best way of hedging your bets and making sure that the final product actually contains the active compounds.

Poultices are another simple medical hack for minor complaints and ailments. A poultice is simply a bandage or wadding used to cover the area that is in need of attention. They can be dry or wet, warm or cold depending on the condition being treated. For a burn, for example, you might want to make a poultice using mugwort or any other herb associated with healing burns. Make a paste with the plant matter and water, place on the wound and wrap  with the bandage or cover with the wadding and tape. You can use poultices for a wide variety of complaints, for example a simple soap poultice will bring a boil to a head. They are a great way to begin to explore folk / herbal remedies. Generally heat is useful for easing pain because it will draw blood to the area, whereas cold is good for inflammation because it causes the body to direct blood away from the area – good to know when using warm or cold poultices.

As I mentioned in Part 1 folk medicine and becoming more self reliant when it comes to food is such huge topics, it would take books to cover them completely, and I genuinely hope that what you’ve read here inspires you to look more deeply into this area. Whilst the information is nothing new nor radical, these skills, this knowledge is so important. Whether the collapse of Capitalism happens or not, by relearning these skills, we give ourselves a sense of freedom, if only because it is one more chain broken.


Emma Kathryn

My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!You can follow Emma on Facebook.


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Reclaiming Ourselves – Back To Basics: Food and Medicine.

… first we must reclaim ourselves and the knowledge that we have forgotten or lost. We must learn to rely less on the State. The suggestions contained here on in  may well seem basic to those already well versed in such things, but for so many these skills have been lost and it is for those that I write this, after all, we must all start somewhere. There’s no shame in starting small.

From Emma Kathryn

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The world’s going to pot.

Just look around you. Literally, stop. For just a moment and take a look at everything that’s kicking off, all around the world.

Some problems are more dire than others, some more urgent, but it doesn’t really matter because everywhere  your glance may fall, there is some shit going down, some suffering or other, and then, to top it all off, is the destruction of the planet, of nature. Nobody can escape that!

And nobody really knows what to do. Governments don’t care. They may claim to, but every action they do shows the lie of their words. And what about the everyday person? What can one person do? Sometimes it feels like there is nothing we can do, not individually, and I fear that any efforts made now may be too little too late, though that’s not to say we shouldn’t make those efforts. We should definitely make those efforts, but small gestures are no longer enough. Drastic action is needed.

So what can we do as individuals in the face of all of the problems before us? What can I do in the face of these colossal problems? What can you do? How can our little efforts make any kind of difference?

No wonder humanity has fallen into a kind of hopeless apathy. And yet all hope is not lost, for are we not hopeful things? Even when the odds are stacked against us and failure is all but promised some small glimmer of hope remains. Is there any power, no matter how small, that we may claim for ourselves?

Perhaps there is, but first we must reclaim ourselves and the knowledge that we have forgotten or lost. We must learn to rely less on the State. The suggestions contained here on in  may well seem basic to those already well versed in such things, but for so many these skills have been lost and it is for those that I write this, after all, we must all start somewhere. There’s no shame in starting small. And for those that would comment saying things like ‘Well, too little too late’, or ‘it’s not enough’, you may very well be correct. But whatever happens, the skills I speak about here will become increasingly important.

The Land

I know, I know, here I go again, banging on about connecting to the land, but I only mention it here because everything comes from that connection. You all know how I feel about that! But seriously though, get to know the lay of the land where you live. Make yourself familiar with the local plants and fauna. This is something that takes time, months, years, indeed there is always more to learn.

Food & Cooking

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Learning to cook from scratch is a vital skill for anybody to learn at any time. I include cooking here because so many do not know how to cook from scratch, hence why kitchen witchery has become a thing (I mean no disrespect either, but I see so many kitchen witchery articles that are just recipes). Indeed cooking is a kind of alchemy all by itself.

So why is cooking so important? I think it is one of the major ways in which we have lost some control over our lives. We’ve become reliant on cheap prepackaged food and in doing so we’ve forgotten the basics. So learn to cook from scratch. Learn how to make stocks, learn which ingredients can be substituted for others. Find out what’s in season, because food that’s in season will be cheaper to buy.

A word on sourcing food. There is a common misconception, here in the UK at least, that if you’re on a low-income, you can’t afford to eat well. Whilst I always say buy the best you can afford, organic fruit and veg is great, but it is often too pricey for those on tight budgets, so buying regular fruit and veg is more than fine. Check out local markets and if you go later in the day then there’s a good chance that their goods will be reduced, but still in perfect condition. Also check out discount stores. If you’re in the UK then retailers such as Aldi and Lidl are great for fresh and affordable food.

Foraging is another way to increase your food supplies. I know the idea seems pretty out there (who’d of thought it eh, foraging radical?), but there is so much that is edible. Nuts are good round about now. Sweet chestnuts, cob nuts and walnuts are just some that I forage for. Mushrooms are also good now, though I do urge anyone interested in finding wild mushrooms to learn to identify them properly! But there are so many foods that can be foraged, more than I have space to write here! This is where your knowledge of the local landscape becomes important.

Medicine

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Medicine is another area in which we have become dependent on capitalism. Now, when I talk about medicine in this instant, please do not think that I’m advocating self diagnoses, or that the remedies I might include here are for serious conditions. But, when it comes to those minor illnesses, coughs and colds and what not, well, pharmaceutical companies make a killing on selling us useless medicines. This part leads naturally on from food, because so much of what we might call natural medicine is also food.

I live in England, and for us, autumn and winter mean an increase in all of those annoying illnesses that whilst not fatal, are annoying and uncomfortable and generally make life that little bit harder. Learning to make your own natural remedies is a way in which you can ease the symptoms of whatever ails you and at the same time save some cash.

Coughs are annoying as hell and can be painful. When you buy cough medicine from the pharmacy, all you’re really doing is buying something that doesn’t cure the cough nor the cause of it (the cough does that itself) but only soothes the symptoms. Cough medicine is basically sugar syrup. That’s it. So making your own is cheaper and better for you. Simply layer lemon and garlic (you can leave out the garlic if the taste isn’t for you, but garlic is such a potent ingredient it is well worth adding) in a jar and pour honey over until it covers, and that’s it! Keep it in the fridge. I always like to make two batches so that way I can add a shot or two of brandy or rum to one of the jars. This I’ll take in the evening or if I know I haven’t got to drive.

Colds are a pain too, especially the ones where you feel like you can’t breathe. Like coughs, the medicine you buy for colds only eases the symptoms. For colds, eucalyptus and peppermint are your friends. Make a chest rub by blending equal amounts of beeswax and coconut oil and adding drops of essential oil. Now, I do like mine quite strong, but add the oils drop by drop until you are happy with the scent. I make candles using eucalyptus oil and let them burn. Ginger is good for colds too and you can make a syrup just like the honey and lemon one, only including ginger. Make ginger tea, and if you like the taste, then candied ginger makes the perfect lozenge to eat when suffering from a cold.

But it’s not just illnesses where home medicines can be useful. There are no end of minor accidents that occur in everyday life, and for a lot of those, our response is to put on a cream, or pop some pain killers. Mugwort ointment is great for skin complaints from eczema to burns. Mugwort grows as a weed and is real easy to use. I use it in ointment form (you can watch my video here) and I drink it as a tea to ease menstrual pain. It is an abortive herb so it does cause the uterus to contract, bringing on menstrual bleeding, so take care if you’re pregnant or trying.

There is so much information available nowadays in this area, too much to write about here, but my point in writing is this. Let’s try to become less reliant on the system that we find ourselves trapped within. There’s nothing radical about the information here, nothing new. But it is these mundane efforts, combined and multiplied that will help wean us off the system that is Capitalism. It is by starting small and working upwards that we progress, in all things. In martial arts, you don’t get into the ring for a fight on your first day. No. You start with learning where to put your feet. Basic, so small a detail that you’d think it would be so insignificant, but footwork is the bread and butter of fighting and is the difference between hitting and getting hit. And so learning, or rather re-learning the basics, those forgotten skills like feeding and healing ourselves is a small step on the path to reclaiming ourselves.


Emma Kathryn

My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!You can follow Emma on Facebook.


Hey! We pay Emma and others for their articles. We’re one of the few pagan or anti-capitalist sites to do this. 🙂

Here’s how you can help us do that!

Expert Opinion

“pharmaceutical hacks all agreed

selling heroin to children
calmed them down

helped them focus”

From Rex Butters

18p5h9vkeus7fjpg

from the 1890’s to 1912

your medical establishment
top scientists
public health officials
the board of education
Bayer & St. Joseph’s
pharmaceutical hacks all agreed

selling heroin to children
calmed them down

helped them focus

quieted coughs
harmless
non-addictive
beneficial

when I was a kid

your medical establishment
top scientists
public health officials
industry experts all agreed

smoking tobacco
non-addictive
harmless
no cancer link
beneficial
white lab coated doctors
hawked their recommended brands

when I was a kid

your medical establishment
top scientists
the board of education
and the school administration all concurred

we should play with hunks of asbestos
easy to mold
never explodes when fired
cheaper than clay
no cancer link
harmless
survives the kiln
safe as lead toys

when I was a kid

your medical establishment
top scientists
public health officials
nuclear engineers
shoe store owners and parents agreed

installing ineptly shielded
x-ray machines in shoe stores
christening untrained shoe salesmen
x-ray technicians
guaranteed a better fit
for kids’ Poll Parrot and
Buster Brown shoes
frivolously frying feet
storewide open exposure
to x-ray radiation
safe
harmless
no cancer link
beneficial

when I was a kid

your medical establishment
top scientists
defense department officials
public health officials
the board of education all agreed

if an atomic bomb detonates
in the schoolyard
closing the window curtain
getting under our desks
duck and cover
would save our lives
radiation neutralized
they bell alarm drilled us regularly
threat eliminated

when I was a kid

your medical establishment
top scientists
public health officials
state and local government officials agreed

burning garbage
in concrete backyard incinerators
even plastics
every night
across the San Gabriel Valley
waking and walking and living
in a burning toxic brown cloud haze

was safe
harmless
no cancer link
no smog alerts
no respiratory threat
lazy P.E. kids coughing ordered to run harder
my lungs raw and scarred

for generations
your medical establishment
community and religious leaders
local officials
and human traffickers agreed
before anesthesia and asepsis
White Doctors
White Mengele Medical Students
dissecting
observing
experimenting
on live African specimens
soliciting
black body parts
exploiting
exterminating
subjects of theses
like prisoners and the condemned and the poor
and the institutionalized and the orphans
and indigenous peoples

important for medical progress
develops tools and techniques
serves humanity through science
advances crucial knowledge
noble individual sacrifice
for the good of the whole
necessary
to save lives

it’s 2015 and your medical establishment
top scientists
public health officials
state and local government officials just agreed

prescribing heroin to children

beneficial
harmless
non toxic
not addictive

awarding the opiate pushing Sackler family
$14 billion and a Fortune 500
gold throne
richer and deadlier
than any other drug
cartel on earth
ever

in every case/in each era

anyone disagreeing with
these deadly lies
was ridiculed
shunned/shamed
as anti-science
superstitious
marginalized
satirized
diminished
disrespected
dismissed
and pitied

while now
44 people die
every day
from prescribed
painkillers
declared safe
by your medical establishment
top researchers
public health officials
500 die a day from medical mishap
in a health care system ranked 37th
by the New England Journal of Medicine
the lowest among colonizing nations
and the most expensive

as naturopaths
homeopaths
acupuncturists
and herbalists
with no bodies piling up daily
are harassed
bullied
labelled quacks
investigated
over regulated out of business
and the self-congratulating smart ones
continue to fill
the graveyards of expert opinion


Rex Butters

Rex foto

Rolling hills and wheeling crows, a voluptuous valley under sunset bloody clouds, night coyote pup trots, mouth full of rabbit or cat, pollinators buzz the trumpet creeper, windy, cold.


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