Halloween 2018

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Halloween/Samhain is my favorite time of the year, celebrated simultaneously in this family. Many of the traditions we participate in can relate to both Halloween and Samhain. While I do take the time to talk with my children about honoring those we have lost, they do not quite grasp the meaning behind the words as they have not lost anyone yet.

The Sunday before Halloween celebrations, we carved pumpkins with the kids.

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They had a blast. Lewis carved a skull and Fiona and I carved a witch’s familiar (a cat in this case).

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We also smoked the pumpkin seeds. Yum!

On Halloween night, we went to my aunt and uncle’s house. They have such a large turnout every year. We run out of totes of candy.

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Lewis has been into Minecraft. So he was that Minecraft guy.

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Fiona has been into anything Tim Burton (Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride) and Vampirina. So, she just had to be a vampire this year and decided to go as Vampirina herself. Don’t let the photo fool you. She was quite thrilled.

There are two hilarious things about this year. One was after about five quick houses my children wanted to go back to our aunt’s house and eat the actual food and hang out with family (their great-grandmother and great-great aunt were visiting). And they asked for no candy. We gave them some candy, but they didn’t ask for any. It’s after Halloween and they still haven’t asked for candy. Fiona and Lewis loved helping hand out candy though.

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I also spent time remembering my family, particularly my nana. I really wish my kids could have had the opportunity to really know what an amazing woman she was. I also took the time to be thankful for the fact that my children have the great opportunity to have a lot of great family close by who they get to love and interact with frequently.

How did you celebrate Halloween? Do you take time to recognize Samhain?

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Mugwort

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Mugwort is the herb of October. Okay, well maybe not the only herb, but it is pretty representative of this time of year. The name alone conjures up images of black cats, cauldrons, and the witch’s broom.

Funny enough, mugwort is often boasted for its spiritual use. There are other natural remedy properties of this herb that we’ll cover later, but since it’s October, let’s go ahead and take a look at one of the biggest reasons why people use mugwort.

Lucid Dreaming

Mugwort is often used for sleep, but it also aids in lucid dreaming. Your dreams can be very vivid and your dream recall may improve when taking this herb. I have also heard from people who have taken it that it can increase nightmares. This has not happened to me, but everyone is different. For the purpose of lucid dreams, many take it as a tea. Some do choose to either smoke it or burn it as an incense. Thujone is found in mugwort, which is why dreaming may be effected. Thujone is also toxic in large amounts, so use with caution.

Emmenagogue

Mugwort can act as an emmenagogue. This action generally aids women in their menstrual cycles, focusing on the pain caused by a cycle, or help start a cycle (particularly useful if you’re irregular). As such, this should also be avoided when pregnant because it can  unsafely abort a pregnancy. If a pregnancy does need to be aborted, seek medical advice. At home remedies for this are dangerous. However,  using this herb right after birth can be useful in the expulsion of afterbirth. I wouldn’t necessarily use unless entirely needed as you really shouldn’t be taking this if you’re breastfeeding (due to thujone).

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

Bitter

Mugwort is bitter, so once you begin consuming it, the vagus nerve is triggered to begin the digestive process. Taking bitters about 20 minutes before eating, aids in digestion and can help prevent things like indigestion.

Antispasmodic

Mugwort is an antispasmodic and the herb can be infused into baths for muscle aches and pains.

Digestive Issues

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Spirituality aside, mugwort has shown quite a bit of promise for our digestive systems. Along with the benefit of being a bitter herb, mugwort has shown to aid in stomach pain and poor appetite.

Depression

Mugwort has milt properties to aid with depression. There are many herbs that aid in depression, but mugwort is best recommended when one of the side effects of depression is a loss of appetite.

Parasites

Related to wormwood, mugwort can also aid in ridding the system of parasites, including tapeworm.

Safety

Again, this herb has the potential to have negative effects if used continuously or in high doses. Consult with a doctor or herbalist if this is a herb you want to use regularly. Some even recommend taking a break from mugwort if used for an entire week. I don’t personally use this herb frequently. I’m not often plagued with insomnia, but when I am I generally turn to other herbs. I have been lucid dreaming with ease since I was a child so I don’t use the herb even for that. I generally use it, in tea or incense form, in October. What can I say? When I think of October and autumn, I think of mugwort.

I will say that it does help me in dream recall. My dreams are already vivid so I don’t think it really helps me with that, but I do remember a great deal more about my dreams when taking mugwort. It really is just a cool herb to have around, even just because of its mythical history. This herb is associated with the goddess Artemis (Diana for Roman mythology) who, coincidentally enough, had a pretty large focus on women, especially during childbirth. Which is funny. Because she’s a virgin. Although there’s debate about that, saying that the “virginity” aspect of her is that she belonged to herself and no man, but still took lovers. But that’s straying a bit too far off topic. If you’re curious, Google it. It actually is an interesting mini research project if you’re into that sort of thing.

So mugwort is especially useful for digestive issues, menstrual cycles, and lucid dreaming. Do you use this herb? Have you heard of it before? How do you prefer to use it?

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