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Agate was given its name by Theophrastus, a Greek philosopher who is believed to have discovered the gem on the banks of the river Achates (today called Cirilo), in the province Ragusa in Sicily in the 4th century BC. The gemstone was later mentioned in the Bible as one of the “stones of fire”.

Made from silicon dioxide, it has a glassy (vitreous) lustre, and is often used to make brooches and pins. It can also resist acids and has been used to make mortars and pestles to press and combine chemicals.

Many Agates originate in cavities of molten rock, where gas bubbles trapped in solidifying lava are replaced with alkali and silica bearing solutions. Formed as a banded round nodule (like the rings of a tree trunk) and has bands of colours of bands – Riband Agate.

Myths and legends suggest that when a person wears Agate, they become more pleasant and agreeable. It is believed to quench thirst, protect against viruses (including fever) and to cure insomnia. Some tribes in Brazil also believe that Agate can even cure the stings of scorpions and bites from poisonous snakes!

Muslims often have the gem set into a ring and wear it on their right hand and have the name of Allah, Ali, or one of the names of the other eleven Imams inscribed on the ring.

Agate objects from the Neolithic era have been found. The Sumerians made seals, necklaces, signet rings and other jewellery items. The Sumerians used agate by wearing it with other stones around the neck and wrist to protect against the curses of Goddess Lamashtu whom threatened their new-born children. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, it has been said that in the garden of the Gods, the dewdrops were agates.

The Greek king of Pontus, Mithridates had a collection of four thousand agate bowls. In the Greek mythology, agate is associated with Mother Earth, the goddess Gaia and Nyx, the goddess of the night. Cups in agate were also popular during the Byzantine era with many examples in European museums.

In Wales, agate is linked to who was the goddess of death and fertility. She is the queen of the west, of water and of the autumn season. Ceridwen is the creator of magic and the queen of witches.

In ancient China, it was believed that agate came from the brain of a fossilised horse. During the era of the Yellow Emperor (2500-2600 BC), agate was believed to come from the recrystallisation of spilled blood. Agate was highly revered since the Han Dynasty of East China (25-220 BC) where its tints of red were extremely appreciated.

It was said that Persian magicians used to burn agates to take away storms.

Romans associated agate to Aurore (Aurora), the goddess of dawn and the mother of the winds and to Bona Dea, the goddess of virtue, protector of the women. The Romans believed the stone had healing properties and consuming it as a drink mixed with water healed a snake bite.

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Abalone shell side view

Abalone is the name for a shellfish (molluscs) from the Haliotidae family. The inside of their shell consists of iridescent, silvery white to green and red. The meat of abalone is used for food, and the shells of abalone are used as decorative items and as a source of mother of pearl for jewellery, buttons, buckles, and inlay.

Abalone shells have been found in archaeological sites around the world, ranging from 100,000-year-old deposits at Blombos Cave in South Africa abalones were harvested by Native Americans for at least 12,000 years, the size of red abalone shells found in middens declines significantly after about 4,000 years ago, probably due to human predation. Worldwide, abalone pearls have also been collected for centuries.

As you can imagine for shells that have been harvested for thousands of years, many stories exist around their history.

The Maori people of New Zealand call abalone Paua and use this shell in warrior artwork. They would use it as the eyes of the warriors and other demi-God figures.

The Maori’s believe the shell strengthens the body and the heart of the wearer. With a stronger heart and body, the person is thought to be able to communicate their feelings more clearly bringing connectivity and harmony to relationships. The way the colours of the shell shift in the light is also a symbol of change and transition in Maori culture.

The Apache nation believes there is a connection between the shell and the first woman known as White Painted Woman. She is also known as Esdzanadehe or Changing Woman. She survives a flood in the shell of an abalone. As the floodwaters recede, she walks the land. She is impregnated by the sun and has a son. This son becomes the Killer of Enemies, protecting her from evil.

She is later impregnated by the rain and births the Son of Water. At the end of the White Painted woman’s life, she walks east until she finds her young self. The two merge and in this way, she is born repeatedly, through endless generations.

The coming of age ceremony for Apache girls, the Sunrise Ceremony involves the shell of the abalone. It is a symbol of new womanhood fusing with previous generations of the White Painted Woman. They wear the abalone shell on their forehead during the ritual to connect to their spiritual heritage. The abalone power teaches the girls of their spiritual power as women and their ability to heal as they ‘become a woman’.

The abalone mollusc is highly fertile. As such, many people trying to conceive or wanting to guarantee the health of a new child or grandchild wear the abalone stone. For new mother’s mother-of-pearl can provide much needed emotional, physical, and mental support to new moms. It can remind a new mother of the extraordinary act she carried out in creating and nurturing of an individual spirit. The fertility aspects can bring wealth, abundance, or new opportunities at work. The shell has been used as currency in many native cultures.

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Propolis, the little known bee product

Pile of propolis shards

Propolis is another ingredient used in our products that you may not be familiar with. However, it is nothing new and has been around for as long as there have been bees. Propolis is a type of glue made by honeybees from water and plant material they collect,
The word propolis is derived from Greek, pro for “at the entrance to” and polis for “community” or “city,” The bees use propolis for sealing openings and cracks and smoothing out the internal walls in their hives and line the entrance of their hive with Propolis, acting as a sort of bee-wash when the bees enter the hive.

Whilst it is not widely known today, humans have long utilised propolis and all the bee bye products for thousands of years.

Archaeological evidence and rock carvings shows bee product harvesting from wild colonies dates to c. 13,000 BCE.
Some of the oldest references of humans harvesting bee products are from Niuserre’s sun temple constructed during the Old Kingdom Egypt. beekeepers can be seen blowing smoke into hives, much as we do today, to remove the honeycombs. One of Pharaoh’s titles was Bee King and the gods also were associated with the bee. The temple where the god Osiris was worshiped was the Hwt bjt, the Mansion of the Bee. Temples kept bees to satisfy the desire of the gods for honey and to produce medicines and ointments. Naturally, with its religious significance, antiseptic and antibacterial properties it was heavily used in the mummification processes. from c. 3100 BCE the honeybee was used as a hieroglyph

Ancient Egyptians considered Propolis to be the “secret to eternal health and life”
Several famous healing historical authorities utilized Propolis as part of their medicine chest. Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, wrote that it was useful to treat sores, ulcers, and bruises. The famous Roman physician, Pliny, used it to disperse tumours and thought so highly of it as a first aid remedy that he wrote Propolis “heals sores when it appears hopeless for them to mend”. It is no surprise then that Roman Legionnaires were known to carry some Propolis in their first aid pouches to apply to wounds and injuries.

The great Persian physician, Avicenna, also thought highly of Propolis’ healing potential; in an ancient manuscript he suggested its use for eczema, myalgia, and rheumatism. The Renaissance era author of one of the most influential herbals, Gerard, wrote that Propolis was useful for all types of inflammation. In Knossos archaeologists discovered hives, smoking pots, honey extractors, and other beekeeping paraphernalia
the Chinese employed it for toothaches and infections.

Greek and Roman physicians used it as mouth disinfectant and as an antiseptic and healing product in wound treatment, prescribed for wounds. Roman women discovered the use of propolis in cosmetics. They used the creams from propolis to nourish their skin and body. They even called the propolis ‘woman-friendly’.
The Romans also revered the bee and propolis extensively. Pliny the Elder describes the practical usage of this substance. According to him “[propolis] has the property of extracting stings and all foreign bodies from the flesh, dispersing tumours, ripening indurations, allaying pains of the sinews, and cicatrizing ulcers of the most obstinate nature.”

In the first century CE, the famous medical writer Cornelius Celsus described propolis as a drug for promoting opening wounds, and for treatment of abscesses.
Hippocrates is said to have used propolis to cure wounds and ulcers, both external and internal Pedanios Dioscorides, around 50 CE, described medical uses of propolis

Due to its antibacterial properties, Propolis was listed as an official drug in the 17th century London pharmacopoeias and by Nicholas Culpeper, botanist and physician, in his Complete Herbal
In Italy bee glue was used as a violin varnish by Stradivari.
During the First and Second World Wars, Russians used propolis to prevent wounds from becoming infected and to speed up the healing process and became known as ‘Russian Penicillin’.

In the Quran there is a long chapter (sorat) with bees and honey being healing for man “And your Lord inspired to the bee, take for yourself among the mountains, houses, and among the trees and that which they construct.”

Then eat from all the fruits and follow the ways of your Lord laid down. There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colours, in which there is healing for people. Indeed, in that is a sign for a people who give thought.

The ancient Jews considered tzori (propolis) as a medicine. Tzori and its therapeutic properties are mentioned throughout the Old Testament as the Balm of Gilead. This was the gift that the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

Nowadays, propolis is a natural remedy found in many health food stores in different forms for topical use. It is also used in cosmetics or as popular alternative medicine for self-treatment of various diseases. Current applications of propolis include formulations for cold syndrome (upper respiratory tract infections, common cold, and flu-like infections), as well as dermatological preparations useful in wound healing, treatment of burns, acne, herpes.
Propolis is also used in mouthwashes and toothpastes to prevent caries and to treat gingivitis and stomatitis. It is widely used in cosmetics and in health foods and beverages. It is commercially available in the form of capsules, mouthwash solutions, creams, throat lozenges, powder and in many purified products from which the wax was removed.
Due to its antimicrobial, antiviral, and antioxidant properties, it is widely used in human and veterinary medicine, pharmacology, and cosmetics

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Lemons, why such a bad reputation?

Lemons and lemon oil

One of the strangest things is why Lemons are associated with bad things e.g. “I bought a lemon” for something useless that does not work. Which when you actually buy a lemon, it cannot be further from the truth.

The origin of the lemon is unknown, though lemons are thought to have first grown in Assam in northeast India northern Burma or China. Lemon trees have dark green leaves and grow to 6 meters (20 feet). They have highly scented pink or white flowers. The Lemons are green whilst they grow and only turn yellow when ripe. However, they are usually picked while still green as they ripen and turn yellow while they are being transported.

Lemons came to Europe via southern Italy around 200 CE during via the Roman Empire then via  Persia and Egypt around 700 BE. The origin of the word lemon may be Middle Eastern from the Arabic laymūn or līmūn, and from the Persian līmūn, a generic term for citrus fruit. The first substantial cultivation of lemons in Europe began in Genoa in the middle of the 15th century.

In 1747, James Lind’s experiments on seamen suffering from scurvy involved adding lemon juice to their diets, though vitamin C was not yet known as an important dietary ingredient.

When compressed into an oil, it has been called “Liquid Sunshine” because its yellow colour, refreshing scent, ability to purify, and has the most powerful anti-microbial activity of all the essential oils.

The main constituents of Lemon Essential Oil are: Limonene, α-Pinene, Camphene, β-Pinene, Sabinene, Myrcene, α-Terpinene, Linalool, β -bisabolene, trans-α-Bergamotene, Nerol, and Neral.  You will see a lot of these listed as ingredients on our products

α-Pinene: Anti-inflammatory, Anti-septic, Expectorant, Bronchodilator
Camphene: Anti-oxidant, Soothing, Anti-inflammatory
Sabinene: Anti-oxidant, Anti-microbial, Anti-fungal, Anti-inflammatory
Myrcene: Anti-inflammatory, Analgesic, Anti-biotic, Sedative, Anti-mutagenic
Linalool: Anti-anxiety, Anti-epileptic, Analgesic, Sedative
Limonene: Anti-oxidant, Stimulant, Digestive, Detoxicant, Appetite suppressant
Nerol: Anti-oxidant, Sedative, Anti-inflammatory, Balancing, Analgesic
Neral: Apoptotic, Anti-nociceptive, Anti-inflammatory

Nearly 1000 lemons are needed to produce 1 lb. of Lemon Oil. After extraction, Lemon Oil has a thin, watery viscosity, a pale, greenish-yellow colour, and gives off a sharp yet fresh fragrance, which can largely be attributed to the chemical constituent Limonene.

The extracts derived from lemons are incredibly useful and incorporated in many products, some of which seem complete opposites cosmetics and cleaning products

Taken internally, Lemon Oil’s high vitamin content boosts immunity by stimulating the body’s ability to combat harmful bacteria, circulation, metabolism, and digestive function. And of course a high vitamin C. It relieves constipation and reduces blood pressure.It can reduce fever and flu and relieve throat infections and cough. By clearing the nasal passages Lemons are a natural stimulant to the liver and adding lemon juice to a large glass of water in the morning is a great liver detoxifier. Not only will this help detoxify your liver, it will help replenish your body’s mineral supply and quench your thirst. Provide a dose of the free radical fighting antioxidant vitamin C, which helps keep skin even-toned and helps boost the body’s immune system.

Its astringent properties reduces the amount of oil production and helps your pores to close and your face to tighten which rejuvenates dull complexions. In creams or lotions, Lemon Oil can reduce the appearance of cellulite,

Lemon Oil is used in workplaces to improve cognitive function, relieve mental exhaustion increase employee focus and efficiency reducing the number of errors.

Lemon has strong anti-bacterial properties that can sanitise not only wounds but also surfaces.. making Lemon Oil effective for restoring the lustre to tired or sagging skin.

promotes easier breathing for those with respiratory issues or infections. This rejuvenating, clean-smelling essential oil is commonly used to enhance concentration and energy. When diffused indoors, Lemon Essential Oil eliminates toxins in both the air and on surfaces. for a mood-elevating, cooling, and revitalizing effect. It has a calming effect that can subdue negative moods such as anxiety. 

Used in hair products, Lemon Essential Oil works as a tonic that helps achieve hair that is strong and healthy-looking. Lemon Oil removes dandruff and leaves hair shiny without looking or feeling greasy. To balance oil production on the scalp, Lemon Oil can be diluted with Apple Cider Vinegar and water to create a hair rinse.

In aromatherapy, Lemon Essential Oil can be used to relieve cold and flu symptoms, depression, and stress, among other ailments. Diffusing Lemon Oil can clear nasal passages and lungs and boost energy levels. In a similar vein, it can release feelings of irritation by uplifting moods and it can improve concentration by clearing the mind, which can facilitate easier decision making.

It can be used as a non-toxic cleaner and air freshener throughout the home as a natural disinfectant. Dilute Lemon Essential Oil in a spray bottle filled with water and spray it onto shower walls, windows, wooden furniture, metal surfaces, and countertops to eliminate mould and achieve a streak-free shine.

Lemon Oil can also be blended with Tea Tree Oil and vinegar, diluted in water to create a cleaning spray. For its antiseptic quality, Lemon Essential Oil can be added to homemade soaps.

Lemons have antiseptic qualities which help exfoliate dead cells and aid in fighting dandruff and flakes. Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities can also help soothe the itchy skin irritations affiliated with dandruff.

And apparently you can cook with them and put them alcoholic drinks

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She butter – Woman’s Gold

Shea butter nuts and leaves

Whilst there is a lot of modern marketing spiel attributed to Shea butter and its use in soaps and shampoo. It is genuinely called “women’s gold” not just for the benefits to the skin but for the independence and status it gives to many native processors. This empowerment process has imparted “a certain sense of self-respect among the workers. It has also helped the women producers earn the respect of their family and the right to speak out in the community.”

The tiny, almond-like fruit with a nut inside of the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) are collected a women separate the nut from the fallen fruit, then boil and let the butter float to the surface. The butter is then milled and filtered for impurities, packaged in blocks

Shea butter is edible and may be used in food preparation and is included in the manufacture of chocolate.

Whilst Shea butter may sound a modern ingredient, it has been used for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptian of King Merenre, traded Shea butter 4300 years ago,

Cleopatra apparently loved shea butter. There is a mention of caravans of clay jars filled with shea butter for her use. It’s also said that this luxurious ingredient was beloved by the Queen of Sheba and Nefertiti

The shea tree was considered sacred and used to make the coffins for the early African kings.

Medicinal uses

The bark of the tree is used as an ingredient in traditional medicines to cure ailments in skin treatment in children and treat minor scratches and cuts

Reduces skin inflammation.                                                        

Shea butter has anti-inflammatory properties which help the skin feel relieved from irritation it maintains the elasticity of the skin and reduces aging process.            

Shea butter improves the production of collagen found in the skin hence maintain the skin’s elasticity. This will reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles hence lowering the skin’s aging process.

Treats dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema conditions which tend to make the skin very dry, patchy, flaky and sometimes itchy. The inflammatory and moisturising properties will soothe the itchiness of the skin, lessen swelling and act as a humectant (barrier to retain moisture) hence prevent dryness.

Soothes babies’ skin and nappy rash. Shea butter with its amazing properties is great for baby skin and sensitive skin in general

For ladies and men who find their skin gets sore after shaving, applying Shea butter beforehand can eliminate razor burns.

It can treat acne and skin blemishes as the butter is absorbed deep into the skin providing the skin with cell repairing qualities to moisturise, heal wounds, cuts and abrasions.

Reduces stretch marks.                                              

Shea butter is used to reduce the appearance of stretch marks by restoring the elasticity of the skin and enhancing the production of collagen. More natural than a leading “Biological oil”. Frequent application of the butter to the affected areas will show great results. 

Provides UV protection.

Shea butter is a natural sunscreen because it contains cinnamic acid. Depending on the quality of the butter it will have a sun protecting factor (SPF) of 6 to 10. Since the SPF is low, it is recommended to use another sunscreen on top of shea butter for more protection against the sun rays.

Moisturises dry skin and lips.

Especially for Vegans/Vegetarians Shea butter makes a great natural moisturiser. Its natural fat content makes its easily absorbed making it great for general lip care as well for cracked or chapped lips

The nutshell can repel mosquitoes.

A patented product “nutraceutical” is a shea product that has been developed for lowering people’s cholesterol levels.

Shea Oil vs Shea Butter

The most obvious difference is Shea Nut Oil is a liquid oil and Shea Butter is a thick butter. However, the main difference is in their chemical composition, most notably their Stearic Acid content, which is the main fatty acids responsible for Shea butter’s thick texture. A process called fractionation separates the oil (oleic) and butter (stearic).

Shea oil is fractionated (separated) from Shea butter. The Oleic oil melts at a lower temperature and it is removed from the more solid shea butter. Hence it contains less Stearic fatty acid that gives shea butter its waxy consistency.  Shea Oil also loses some of the potency of the specific Vitamins, Amino Acids and essential Fatty Acids during processing reducing its potency.

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Tea tree oil

tea tree oil flower

Tea tree oil has been growing in popularity over the last 20 years and can be seen in more and more products. Many of us are familiar with it being included in shampoo and soaps.  However, native to Australia it has been used in traditional Aboriginal medicine for centuries. They crushed the leaves of the Tea Tree and inhaled the essence as a cure to coughs, fevers, congestion and injuries.

The modern name, Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) derives its name from when in 1770, Lieutenant James Cook, first recorded tea tree being used for medicinal purposes. He used the leaves to treat scurvy among his crew. Although Cook’s crew first used the leaves for tea, they later mixed them with spruce leaves as a beer.

** Tea Tree Essential Oil should never be consumed. It contains terpenes, active compounds which are extremely difficult for the body to process and can be toxic.

Tea tree oil was largely ignored until and the plant’s medicinal properties remained a secret with the Australian aboriginal people until the early 1920s. An Australian chemist, Dr Arthur Penfold, researched its antiseptic properties. In 1929, along with F.R. Morrison, Penfold published “Australian Tea Trees of Economic Value.” This study started a flurry of research into tea tree oil.

Between 1930s and 1940s, with the development of Penicillin still in its infancy, tea tree oil was widely celebrated as an antiseptic treatment. During the Second World War, Australian soldiers were issued with tea tree oil in their first aid kits. Producers of Tea Tree Oil became a “reserved occupation” and excluded from enlisting in the armed forces until there was sufficient stockpile to supply all soldier’s first aid kits and hospitals.

After the war, increased use of pharmaceutical antibiotics decreased tea tree oil’s appeal everywhere except in Australia.

Tea tree oil started to regain its popularity in 1960 and its use has been growing steadily as more people opt for natural remedies and solutions.

Extracted through a process of steam distillation, Tea Tree Oil is obtained from the leaves and twigs of the tea tree.

Skin care

Tea Tree Essential Oil is well renowned as a natural remedy for acne and breakouts due its powerful antibacterial compounds which work to deeply cleanse the skin and purify pores. Because it has anti-inflammatory properties, Tea Tree Essential Oil can calm skin and soothe irritations and wounds. Which will reduce the redness with acne, pigmentation or even rosacea,

The Tea Tree Oil helps to reignite your skin’s radiance and even out skin tone.

With its antibacterial properties, Tea Tree Oil works very well as a natural laundry freshener, especially when laundry is musty or even mouldy. It can even be applied to shoes or feet to eliminate any unpleasant smells and bacteria.

If you are interested in other Oils.  Lavender, Clary Sage, Chamomile Oil, Geranium Oil, Lemon Tea Tree, Manuka, Niaouli and Cajeput.

**With all things, if you have a serious condition or in any doubt, consult a qualified medical professional.

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Free Customer Scratch cards!

Free scratch cards to purchasers

As a thank you and piece of fun to our customers, we have introduced free Sians Emporium scratch card!

With each purchase over £5 customers get the option of having one of our scratch cards. No cost, no cash, but a great chance of getting another fabulous product free!

All you have to do is scratch off the silver foil and reveal the product symbols underneath. Match 3 the same and you get a prize represented by the symbol.

For our mail order customers, we can draw a card at random and if you win, we will enclose the prize with your delivery.

Best of luck in the draw


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Field of Lavender

History of use

Lavandula (common name lavender) is a genus of 47 known species of flowering plants in the mint family known for its beauty, its sweet floral fragrance and its multiple uses. The origin of Lavender is believed to be from the Mediterranean, Middle East and India. Its history goes back some 2500 years.

The ancient Greeks called Lavender nardus, after the Syrian city of Naarda and was commonly called Nard. Lavender was one of the holy herbs used to prepare the Holy Essence and Nard, or ‘spikenard’ is mentioned in the bible in the ‘Song of Solomon’ and In John, Chapter 12, Mary is said to have anointed the feet of Jesus with the very costly “ointment of spikenard”

Around 65 A.D., Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek physician serving with the Roman army, wrote “De Materia Medica,” in which he described the medicinal uses of many herbs. Even today, it is considered one of the most influential herbal books.

The Ancient Greeks used lavender to fight insomnia and back aches and that it is antibacterial and antiseptic properties help wounds heal. It was prescribed by Dioscorides, the Greek surgeon whose De Materia Medica became the pharmaceutical bible for 1,500 years. He knew it gave protection from plague but not why the fleas that transmit it, avoid it.

The Romans put bunches between their sheets to guard against bedbugs and washed their clothes and hair with it to repel moths and lice. Its Latin name is lavandārius, from lavanda (things to be washed), from the verb (to wash). Lavender flowers were sold for 100 denarii per pound, about the same as a month’s wages for a farm labourer or fifty haircuts from the local barber! The Romans used lavender in soaps and carried it with them as they travelled the Empire.

Ancient Egyptians used lavender in their funerary rights and mummifying process as well as for perfuming their clothing and body. Cleopatra supposedly used lavender to seduce Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. King Tutankhamen’s tomb was filled with lavender and centuries later when the tomb was opened, it still held a slight scent.

In France, the latin lavāre evolved into “laver”. In Medieval and Renaissance France, women who took in washing were known as “lavenders.” Clothes were washed in lavender and laid to dry on lavender bushes. In the 16th century France glove makers were licensed to perfume their wares with lavender and apparently never suffered from cholera. It was a favourite of Charles VI of France whom demanded that his pillow always contain lavender so he could get a good night’s sleep. Louis XIV loved bathing in lavender scented water.

The English word lavender is thought to be derived from the French. When introduced into England in the 1600s, It is said that Queen Elizabeth prized a lavender conserve at her table and fresh lavender flowers throughout her residence. Lavender was commonly used in teas both medicinally and for its taste.

In 17th century London, people tied small bunches of lavender to their wrists to prevent the deadly diseases such as plague and cholera. In the 1652 book The English Physician, Culpeper wrote, “two spoonfuls of the distilled water of the flowers taken helpeth them that have lost their voice; as also the trembling and passions of the heart, and faintings and swoonings.” During the plague, lavender was included in a version of the “Four Thieves Vinegar” recipe. The Tudor believed a lavender brew taken by maidens on St. Luke’s Day would reveal the identity of their true loves.
Queen Victoria took an interest in lavender in 19th century England and English lavender became popular. The Victorians used lavender in gardens and both queens used products from the famous lavender company, Yardley’s of London. The botanic name Lavandula was created by Linnaeus a Swedish botanist and physician.
Until World War I, Lavender was still used in the UK as an antiseptic wash during surgery.

Lavenders many Uses

English monks grew lavender in their gardens for use as a healing herb. Physicians used it to heal and cleanse wounds and aid in easing a variety of complaints. Midwives occasionally used lavender as a protective and cleansing agent to aid in childbirth.

Lavender oil is used as a disinfectant, an antiseptic, an anti-inflammatory and for aromatherapy. for treating bruises and insect bites sunburn and small cuts, burns and inflammatory conditions and even acne.
Lavender oils are also used for internal medical conditions, among others indigestion and heartburn, soothe headaches, migraines and motion sickness when applied to the temples.

It is frequently used as an aid to sleep and relaxation. hyperactivity, insomnia, headaches, toothaches, sore joints, and rumbling digestive systems, as a mild sedative and an aid to relieve neuralgia pain when used in the bath.
As a member of the mint family, Lavender has been used for centuries in the preparation of food either by itself or as an ingredient of Herbs de Province. Lavender delivers a floral, slightly sweet and elegant flavour to salads, soups, meat and seafood dishes, desserts, cheeses, baked goods and confectionery. For most cooking applications it is the dried flowers that are used although the leaves may also be used.

Grow lavender in your garden and you will have fewer snails, slugs and aphids but bees and butterflies will be attracted to the flowers.

The fragrance of lavender can be used to calm horses.
Dried lavender flowers are popular for weddings as decoration, gifts and confetti. In Ireland, brides wore lavender garters to protect them from witchcraft.

For centuries lavender has been thought to be an aphrodisiac. Placed under the beds of newlyweds, Lavender ensured passion. Put in the pillows of Alpine maidens it brought hopes of romance.
Early household use, started with lavender strewn on the floors of castles and sick rooms as a disinfectant and deodorant. It was sold in bunches by street vendors and placed in linen closets as an insecticide to protect linens from moths. Lavender was burned in sickrooms to clean the air.

Dried Lavender flowers are used extensively as fragrant herbal filler inside sachets to freshen linens, closets and drawers. As an air spray, it is used to freshen in practically any room
Lavender was said to drive off the evil eye and chase away demons and evil spirits. In Spain and Portugal, lavender was traditionally strewn on the floor of churches or thrown into bonfires to avert evil spirits on St. John’s Day around midsummer.

In Tuscany, pinning a sprig of lavender to your shirt is a traditional ward against the evil eye. Fashioned into a cross, it was hung over doorways and at the entrances to homes to protect the inhabitants against evil spirits.
Maidens who wanted to remain chaste carried a sprig of lavender to repel unwanted advances. As a complete opposite, ladies of ill repute often used lavender scented perfumes to attract clientele.
At Midsummer’s Eve, it was a component in the blend used to summon faeries, brownies, and elves.

Lavender for the mind, body and spirit

Lavender can be used by itself or in combination with other herbs such as white sage, sweetgrass or palo santo sticks as a smudge to cleanse your environment of negativity, and neutralise any stale, lingering bad vibes. Infusing your space with Lavender sets the intention for a peaceful, grounded energy before making art, studying, working, practicing yoga, meditation, saying prayers or affirmations, chanting mantras, pulling tarot or oracle cards, gathering in circle, and engaging in any type of sacred ceremony.
Lavender nurtures creativity and self-expression.
Lavender is associated with the third-eye chakra whose attributes include intuition, imagination, visualisation, and concentration.

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Seahorses, still cute 2,000 years later

Golden sea horse

Until you see one for yourself in real life, it’s easy to believe that seahorses are mythical creatures out of a fairy tales and sagas. Even the dead, dried up seahorses seem to hold a magical power, half dragon half reptile.  Indeed, they are called Hippocampus from the Ancient Greek hippókampos “horse” and kámpos meaning “sea monster”.

Legend has it that Poseidon, the Greek sea god rode through the oceans on a golden chariot pulled by Seahorses Ancient Greek fishermen believed that when they found Sea horses tangled in their nets, they were the offspring of Poseidon’s steeds.

Throughout the Mediterranean, art and objects depict the Sea horse. Phoenicians and Etruscans often painted these on the walls of burial chambers so that they could carry the dead on their voyage across the seas and into the afterlife.

Scottish “kelpies” dwell in the lochs and come onto dry land to graze with land horses. However, should you try and ride one you will be dragged out to sea and drowned. Further north in the Orkneys they are called “tangies” and “shoopiltrees” in the Shetlands.

Scandinavian legends tell of the “havhest”, a huge sea serpent, half horse and half fish that could breathe fire and sink ships.

An ancient Mexican tribe called the Seri has a seahorse legend.  A Long ago, when the animals talked and wore clothes, there was a fat seahorse who lived on Tiburon Island. The seahorse was a known trickster Having a wrongdoing, all the other animals who chased the seahorse by throwing rocks and stones. He fled to the seashore and, with nowhere to run, tucked his sandals into his belt and dived into the sea, never to return. This is why seahorses are scrawny and thin and covered in armour where his shoes once were is now a little fin.

On the Indian Ocean Island of Zanzibar, fishermen sometimes burn seahorses and sprinkle the ashes overfishing nets to bring good fortune and lure in more fishes. Whilst Malaysia and the Philippines fishermen hang dried seahorses about their homes as talismans to dispel evil spirits. Seahorses protect money and bring prosperity in Mexico and Indonesia.

Medicinal beliefs

 Roman writer Dioscorides, In the first century CE, compiled a book of herbal medicines. Among the ingredients were seahorses which he claimed, can be mixed with goose fat and smeared on a balding scalp to restore a full head of hair!

Pliny the Elder also advocated the use of seahorses as cures for leprosy, urinary incontinence and fever.

Roman writer, Aelian, claimed that seahorses could cure a bite from a rabid dog by counteracting the hydrophobia induced by rabies “eat a seahorse and you’ll spend the rest of your life drawn inexorably to the soothing sound of babbling rivers and streams” He also wrote that a seahorse boiled in wine is a deadly poison

Whilst in the west we can disbelieve the medicinal claims of Seahorse. However, in Chinese medicine seahorse are still an essential component despite any supporting clinical evidence.  The practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine promote its benefits to ease impotence, wheezing, nocturnal enuresis, and pain, as well as inducing labour. 20 million seahorses are caught each year to the extent that Seahorse populations are endangered because of overfishing and habitat destruction.

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Herb of Grace

Herb of grace poster

We came across Herb of Grace we went “what is that as well”

Rue (Ruta graveolens, strong smelling rue), common rue, or herb-of-grace, is a hardy evergreen ornamental plant and herb.
Most Western European languages have similar names for rue: English and French rue, Dutch ruit and German Raute all go back to Latin ruta, which itself was borrowed from Greek rhyte. The ultimate origin of the word is not known. In English rue may also mean “remorse”,

Origins and history of Rue

Rue is a herb but isn’t commonly used in modern kitchens because of its bitterness. Rue was a very common spice in ancient Rome, often being used for country-style food like moretum, a spicy paste of fresh garlic, hard cheese and herbs (coriander, celery, rue) The Romans cultivated rue and brought it with them when they visited prisoners, because they believed the plant would avert “the Evil Eye”.

The Chinese used Rue to counteract negative thoughts or wishes. Celtic wizards said that rue was a defence against magic and could be used to promote healing.

Rue was sacred to the early Jewish and Egyptians whom believed it was a gift from the Gods. The Native Americans used rue for spells One love spell, involved placing a branch under the light of the moon before giving it to their love and they claimed they would win the heart of their love forever.

Rue is also a common ingredient in witchcraft and spell making. During the Middle Ages it was a symbol of recognition between witches.

The legend of rue lives on in playing cards, where the symbol for the suit of clubs is said to be modelled on a leaf of rue.
Shakespeare refers Rue in Richard II:
Here in this place
I’ll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace;
Rue, even for ruth, shall shortly here be seen,
In the remembrance of a weeping queen.’

Rue in Medicine

Rue has a long history of use in both medicine and magic and is considered a protective herb in both disciplines It was used for nervous afflictions, digestive problems and as an antidote to poison. Many cultures believed it was as a protection against evil.

Rue is mentioned by many writers (e.g. Pliny, Shakespeare) as an herb of remembrance, warding and healing. Early physicians considered rue excellent protection against plagues, pestilence to ward off poisons and fleas. It is one of the most well-known of the magical protective herbs and is often used in modern magic spells forwarding and protection.

Hippocrates recommend Rue as it constituted the main ingredient of the famous antidote to poison used by Mithridates. The Greeks regarded it as an anti-magical herb because it served to remedy the nervous indigestion they suffered when eating before strangers, which they attributed to witchcraft. In many parts of Europe from the Middle Ages onwards, it was considered a powerful defence against witches, and bestow second sight.

Rue was once believed to improve the eyesight and creativity and Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci regularly ate the small trefoil leaves.

At one time the holy water was sprinkled from brushes made of Rue at the ceremony before the Sunday celebration of High Mass. This why it was named the Herb of Repentance and the Herb of Grace. ‘There’s rue for you and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays.‘ The Catholic Church also used a branch of rue to sprinkle holy water on its followers during this time known as the “herb of grace”
(Luke 11:42) “But woe to you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”

Rue essential oil has many health benefits and can help as an anti-arthritic, anti-rheumatic, antibacterial, anti-fungal and insecticidal aid. Rue itself has been used as an, sedative, digestive, anti-epileptic, and anti-hysteric substance.

The anti-fungal properties of rue also help to heal the de-complexion of the skin, to reveal a more beautiful and clear skin. Rue helps our body fight against fungal infections such as dermatitis and athletes’ foot. The antioxidant properties of rue ensure that your skin repels the free radicals that cause premature ageing of the skin, keeping your skin young and happy. Rue oil is often used in spas for providing therapeutic facial steams and for hair treatment, to give you hair that shines with health.