Sweet Sweet Marsh Mallow

The ancient Egyptians extracted the marsh mallow’s (Althaea officinalis) sap by hand and mixed it with nuts and honey, a delicacy reserved for gods and royalty. The marsh-mallow root was once also an ingredient in the marshmallow treats that we now consume. In the 1800s, French candy makers combined the plant’s sap with egg whites and sugar. And like that, the sweet treat was available for everyone, not just gods and nobility. As demand increased, the labor-intensive process changed, and gelatin replaced marsh-mallow sap.

05A - 58 Althaea officinalis Marsh Mallow a

It has also been used for thousands of years as a folk remedy to treat digestive, respiratory, and skin conditions. Even today, in traditional medicine, the mucilage mixed with water forms a slick gel that coats the throat and stomach to reduce irritation when taken internally, and it soothes chapped skin when applied externally. Boiling the flowers in oil and water and adding honey makes a gargle for sore throats.

It’s also a magical herb that’s burned as an incense to cleanse inside and out. You can gain protection against demons and spells by anointing yourself with oil in which the plant’s leaves and flowers have been steeped. Besides cleansing and protection, the herb is a favorite of benevolent spirits. You can call on them for help by keeping a jar of the marsh-mallow root and a dish of water on your altar. In addition, the plant is associated with deities of love and beauty, making it a practical herb for fertility and attraction spells. If you gather the seeds under a full moon and add them to sachets and love powders, you can fight infertility and impotence. Putting a vase of the flowers on your windowsill will help a wandering love return home. Marsh mallow also has an association with death and rebirth, and the herb is used in rituals for the dead. In addition, it is planted near graves, and its flowers decorate graves to honor the deceased.

Our book 77½ Magical Healing Herbs provides much more information about the magical and healing properties of herbs, the ones used in the Eniovden (Midsummer’s Day) wreath, plus much more… You can get the book here: https://77-1-2-herbs.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders

Herbs Cover Image with Project we Love

Kickstarter

If you’d like to learn more about Baba Yaga, we are running a Kickstarter campaign during the month of October, starting on October 4. This will be part of the “Witchstarter” program that Kickstarter is promoting. Along with our campaign, you’ll find all kinds of witchy items to browse through. We’ll be sharing many of these with you in our weekly newsletter, so be sure to follow along.

You can get a preview of our Baba Yaga campaign here. We welcome your feedback.

If you’ve never logged into Kickstarter before, you’ll have to create an account. But then, you’ll have access to all the great projects going on every day, not just for the Witchstarter program.

Baba Yaga Baner 2 pins

The Power of the Rose

We’ll be launching our Kickstarter campaign for Baba Yaga on October 4. In her honor, we’d like to do a series of posts about herbs. Although you may know her as a cannibalistic witch, she has other characteristics. She was also a healer.

Today, we’ll be talking about roses and rose hips (Шипка).

If you have a cold, cough, or laryngitis, you can add honey to a tea made from rose hips to provide fast relief. This tea is also good treatment for people with cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, or diarrhea. It’s one of my favorite teas. It reminds me of the tea made from hibiscus.

 

Rose Hip Tea

Add 1 cup of rose hips to 1 quart of water and boil for 10 minutes.

Filter and add 3 Tablespoons of honey.

Drink a cupful three to four times a day.

 

Rose hips were also used as amulets to inducing love or protecting a home from evil.

First, the love remedies. Making beads from the rose hips is a way to seduce someone of the opposite sex. Or, if you prefer, you can bathe in the rose petals to make yourself more attractive and desirable. This works especially well for married couples. Your love for one another will become even stronger. The fruits will also protect you against love spells from unwanted admiriers.

If you’re not looking for love, but want to keep evil or negative energy, curses, and the evil eye away from your home, rose hips will do that work as well. The thorns are also especially powerful. By planting a rose bush near your home, you can prevent all kinds of evil, supernatural creatures from entering.

If you need to cleanse the inside of your home, gather a bouquet of rosehips. They’ll absorb all that negative energy and calm your nerves and help reduce any domestic problems. You can even scatter dry twigs with roses on them around your home.

rosehip

Rose Hip Amulet

Dry the fruits and put them into a cotton bag. If you don’t want to carry that, use a scarf of other accessory that has roses, with the fruits and flowers, embroidered on it. But you’ll want to keep it with you for protection.

***

We’d love to have you follow our Baba Yaga Kickstarter campaign so you know the moment it launches. You may think you know all about her, but I’m sure we have plenty of surprises that we’ll reveal in our book. We also have some really cool pins and postcards we’ll be offering backers. Illustrations come from Bulgarian artist Alexander Petkov. Click on the link below and set up a Kickstarter account if you don’t already have one.

Baba Yaga Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/a-study-of-baba-yaga.

Baba Yaga Baner 2

Article Source: Nikolova, Ani. “Няма да повярвате: Шипката пази от магии и слуги на Сатаната!” December 23, 2020. https://www.topactualno.com/123681/nyama-da-povyarvate-shipkata-pazi-ot-magii-i-slugi-na-satanata/.

Kickstarter Challenge #3 – Magical Herbal Garden

And here’s our final challenge.

Challange3

There are multiple herbs that qualify. The first person to guess 5 of these herbs that might grow in this garden will receive a digital copy of our children’s book about a Znahar, Born From the Ashes.

If you also guess the 5 herbs  we’ve selected for this garden, you’ll also get a digital copy of Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey, our fantasy romance in which a Znahar is one of minor the characters.

To participate, head on over to our Kickstarter campaign and check out the full instructions in the UPDATES section: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/77-1-2-magical-healing-herbs-the-secret-power-of-herbs?ref=a23n7m

If you want to qualify for the prize, you MUST submit your answer on Kickstarter in the COMMENTS section. Include “KS Challenge 3” in your response.

Is This Herb the Sorcerer’s Stone?

37-1 Depositphotos_457713322_XL FOR WEB

Water clover (Marsilea quadrifolia) is called the raskovnik in Slavic folklore. It is one of the most secret magical herbs. People believe that the herb has strong alchemic ability and can transform iron into gold. More common, however, is the belief the herb can brings the person who finds it love, happiness, luck, and wealth. I wish that list included eternal youth as well… Some say the raskovnik makes whatever its owner desires come true.

Only a turtle knows where the plant grows, but if a hedgehog is covered with a bowl, it can also find the herb.

According to legend, the herb can unlock any padlock or closed gate. It has the power to make buried treasures rise from the ground: it does this by splitting the ground at the place where a treasure is hidden, so that people can locate it. But if the herb breaks, it’ll lose its magical powers.

African pygmy hedgehog isolated on white background
Gray african pygmy hedgehog isolated on white background

In some regions of Balkans, the treasure itself was a giant man in chains. He’d would request that a raskovnik be brought to him. The raskovnik would break the chains and the man would disappear into the ground, replaced by a cauldron filled with gold coins.

Would you like to learn more about the secret power of herbs?

We have created a book that includes more than 250 color images, medical and magical herb use, traditions, and more. Read on to find out more…

Our Campaign

Discover the power of herbs with our forthcoming book, 77½ Magical Healing Herbs. But when we publish it, the print book will be available EXCLUSIVELY through our Kickstarter campaign for six months, and the ebook will ONLY be available through Kickstarter. We have no plans to publish it through retailers due to the large file size.

What is Kickstarter? Isn’t that just like GoFundMe?

No, absolutely not. Kickstarter is a direct-sales platform that has the potential to reach millions of people. Supporters pledge various amounts to support an author, and in return, they receive products before anyone else. And, as I mentioned, sometimes this is the only way to get a product.

Kickstarter cuts out the retailer middle-man. There are fees, of course, but they are much smaller than the chunk retailers grab.

What Kickstarter is, besides a platform to sell a product, is a way to bundle rewards for supporters. It’s a way to directly interact with customers. There will be early-supporter perks for those pledging within the first 48 hours. And what they call “stretch goals,” bonuses if the campaign meets certain goals.

Are you game?

We’d love to have you check out our pre-launch page.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/77-1-2-magical-healing-herbs-the-secret-power-of-herbs

Simply click on the “Notify me on launch” button, and Kickstarter will send you an email immediately when the project officially launches.

kickstarter6a idea

When the campaign launches, it will also include a short video. You can get a sneak peek here and check out our awesome project in progress: https://youtu.be/cnqHZ6NGbdQ

We hope you’ll join us on the adventure and support our campaign. The book is chock full of fascinating information and fantastic images. An all-you-can-eat herbal buffet.

Hope to see you soon.

Nelly and Rebecca

Images stock photos from DepositPhotos.

Magical Healing Herbs

“On Eniovden (Midsummer’s Day), the stars fly down, infusing herbs and water with magical healing power.”

Every year on June 24, Eniovden, I remember these words spoken by my grandmother. She understood the power of herbs and used them to heal body and soul, protect the home and family, and bring fertility and prosperity to the household.

In Bulgaria and other Slavic countries like Ukraine, women and healers gather 77½ herbs. A popular belief is the herbs have magical and healing powers if picked on the eve of Eniovden. However, the women must remain silent as they pour water over the herbs, so the magic is not ruined by the human voice. The women cover the caldron of herbs with an apron and leave it under the stars overnight to make the herbs even more powerful.

“There is an herb for every illness, and the half for all unknown.”

I never fully understood the meaning of the “half” herb as a child—and not even as an adult. How can you have a half herb? Even if you break it in half, it’s still an herb. Nor did I completely comprehend the power of each of the Eniovden herbs.

From the 77½ herbs they gathered, the women weave a giant, sacred wreath. They don’t pick herbs at random. Each herb has magical or healing abilities and is specially chosen for the wreath. According to folk belief, these herbs can cure illnesses, break spells, and drive away dragons (zmeys) and other malicious entities. After the women weave the herbal wreath, they dress in colorful, traditional costumes and dance the horo before they step through the wreath to start the day’s celebrations.

“Is this a portal to another world? Is this a circle to protect you from black magic and evil spirits?”

These were questions in my mind when I looked at the colorful floral wreath on Eniovden many years ago. It was giant. I mean really giant… Woman, maidens, and girls easily stepped through the wreath. It felt like they were going to a different dimension.

It was a magical experience, one which I always wanted to learn more about.

Giant wreath

The Magic of Eniovden

June 24 is a special day filled with other magical rites that focus on herbs. In one ceremony, women and girls sing while they place herbs on each corner of a field. This ensures a bountiful harvest and prevents witches from stealing the fertility of the land, which is contained in the dew. Otherwise, witches would cast spells on the fields during the night, collect the dew in their aprons, and bring it to their own fields.

Eniovden is also a night when the boundaries between the spirit and human worlds merge, allowing creatures from heaven, earth, and the underworld to roam the land. Samodivi (woodland nymphs) and dragons celebrate on this day.

LLR promo

Birth of a Book

I was curious what herbs made up the 77½ in the wreath, so I researched old Bulgarian books and articles and finally discovered a list. That is how the idea of 77½ Magical Healing Herbs was born.

In this unique book, you’ll also learn about well-known healers from Bulgarian history. Baba Vanga is one whom many people these days have heard about. She’s a clairvoyant who’s been called the Nostradamus of the Balkans, and she has predicted many events that have happened in our lifetimes.

Did I get your attention? Would you love to learn more about herbs? Read on…

updated cover

Our Campaign

You can with our forthcoming book, 77½ Magical Healing Herbs. But when we publish it, the print book will be available EXCLUSIVELY through our Kickstarter campaign for six months, and the ebook will ONLY be available through Kickstarter. We have no plans to publish it through retailers due to the large file size.

What is Kickstarter? Isn’t that just like GoFundMe?

No, absolutely not. Kickstarter is a direct-sales platform that has the potential to reach millions of people. Supporters pledge various amounts to support an author, and in return, they receive products before anyone else. And, as I mentioned, sometimes this is the only way to get a product.

What Kickstarter is, besides a platform to sell a product, is a way to bundle rewards for supporters. It’s a way to directly interact with customers. There will be early-supporter perks for those pledging within the first 48 hours. And what they call “stretch goals,” bonuses if the campaign meets certain goals.

Are you game?

We’d love to have you check out our pre-launch page.

kickstarter6a idea

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/77-1-2-magical-healing-herbs-the-secret-power-of-herbs

Simply click on the “Notify me on launch” button, and Kickstarter will send you an email immediately when the project officially launches.

When the campaign launches, it will also include a short video. You can get a sneak peek here and check out our awesome project in progress: https://youtu.be/cnqHZ6NGbdQ

We hope you’ll join us on the adventure. The book is chock full of fascinating information and fantastic images. An all-you-can-eat herbal buffet.

Hope to see you soon.

Nelly and Rebecca

Exclusive Opportunity

updated coverOur book 77½ Magical Healing Herbs is nearing completion. It’s currently in the hands of a graphic designer to make the pages even more compelling. A little color to make the herb photographs and text really pop.

The book is 350 pages long! In 8 x 10 format. So, that’s a lot of herbal information.

However, the book won’t be available in any retail store any time soon.

Why?

We’re running a Kickstarter campaign, and the print book (both paperback and hardback) will be EXCLUSIVE to that platform for SIX months. And an ebook version is ONLY being offered through Kickstarter. Once the campaign is over, the opportunity to secure one will be lost.

Kickstarter Green logo

What is Kickstarter? Isn’t that just like GoFundMe?

No, absolutely not. Kickstarter is a direct-sales platform. Supporters pledge various amounts to support an author, and in return, they receive products before anyone else.

Kickstarter cuts out the retailer middle-man. There are fees, of course, but they are much smaller than the chunk retailers grab.

What Kickstarter is, besides a platform to sell a product, is a way to bundle rewards for supporters. It’s a way to directly interact with customers. There will be early-supporter perks for those pledging within the first 48 hours. And what they call “stretch goals,” bonuses if the campaign meets certain goals.

Are you game?

We’d love to have you check out our pre-launch page.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/77-1-2-magical-healing-herbs-the-secret-power-of-herbs

Simply click on the “Notify me on launch” button, so you’ll be notified immediately when the project officially launches.

kickstarter6a idea

When the campaign launches, it will also include a short video. You can see it in advance here and check out our awesome project in progress: https://youtu.be/cnqHZ6NGbdQ

We hope you’ll join us on the adventure. The book is chock full of fascinating information and fantastic images. An all-you-can-eat herbal buffet.

Hope to see you soon.

Nelly and Rebecca

The Magical Walnut

On a recent podcast I listened to, one of the speakers was bemoaning the fact that walnuts were included in mixed nuts. She thought they should be excluded. Her reasoning was: Who, after all, actually eats walnuts as a treat? To which, a multitude of listeners responded that they ate the nuts as a snack, mixed with other nuts or by themselves. I include myself in that latter list.

The walnut tree is believed to have existed in prehistoric times, and has been revered through the ages both as a nutritional food and for its medicinal uses, as well as being valued as a source of beautiful wood.

Walnut image

Walnut is not one of the herbs found in the Eniovden (Midsummer’s) wreath that we discuss in our forthcoming book, 77½ Magical Healing Herbs, but it is a plant that has many magical associations in Bulgarian and other beliefs. Here are a few from Bulgaria:

  • Walnut is a World Tree. But, unlike others, it’s unsafe to sleep in its shade. Bulgarians believe that Samodivi (woodland nymphs) and Youdi (more demonic nymphs) gather under the trees. If they discover you there, they’ll make you become ill.
  • Also, as a World Tree, the walnut is a passage from this world to the world of the afterlife. On Pentecost, women place the leaves on graves, so the spirits who are wandering can find their way back to the land of the dead and give them peace. Anyone who wants to see or hear their deceased loved ones brings walnut twigs to church and kneels on them.
  • On Christmas Eve, walnuts are used to predict one’s health for the year. A plump white nut means good health and happiness, and one with two cores is lucky. The finder must make a wish and toss it over his left shoulder. On the other hand, if the nut is shriveled, the person will suffer illness and have bad luck for the year.
  • Walnut leaves can also keep dragons and Samodivi away.

Other beliefs include the following:

  • Walnuts attract lightning, so don’t carry one during a thunder storm. At all other times, it’s okay, because it will strengthen your heart and keep the pains of rheumatism away.
  • Being given a bag of walnuts means all your wishes will be fulfilled. However, don’t eat them if you are allergic.
  • A woman, on her wedding day, can place roasted walnuts in her bodice, so she remains childless. Each nut she carries corresponds to one year of not getting pregnant.
  • Walnuts are associated with expansion, whether it is a career, finances, or perspective on life.
  • Spending time around a walnut tree can give a boost to your immune system.

kickstarter6a idea

Would you love to learn more about herbs? You can with our forthcoming book, 77½ Magical Healing Herbs. But when we publish it, the print book will be available EXCLUSIVELY through our Kickstarter campaign for six months, and the ebook will ONLY be available through Kickstarter. We have no plans to publish it through retailers due to the large file size.

What is Kickstarter? Isn’t that just like GoFundMe?

No, absolutely not. Kickstarter is a direct-sales platform that has the potential to reach millions of people. Supporters pledge various amounts to support an author, and in return, they receive products before anyone else. And, as I mentioned, sometimes this is the only way to get a product.

Kickstarter cuts out the retailer middle-man. There are fees, of course, but they are much smaller than the chunk retailers grab.

What Kickstarter is, besides a platform to sell a product, is a way to bundle rewards for supporters. It’s a way to directly interact with customers. There will be early-supporter perks for those pledging within the first 48 hours. And what they call “stretch goals,” bonuses if the campaign meets certain goals.

Are you game?

We’d love to have you check out our pre-launch page.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/77-1-2-magical-healing-herbs-the-secret-power-of-herbs

Simply click on the “Notify me on launch” button, and Kickstarter will send you an email immediately when the project officially launches.

When the campaign launches, it will also include a short video. You can see it in advance here and check out our awesome project in progress: https://youtu.be/cnqHZ6NGbdQ

We hope you’ll join us on the adventure. The book is chock full of fascinating information and fantastic images. An all-you-can-eat herbal buffet.

Hope to see you soon.

Nelly and Rebecca

March, the Moody Month

March will be here before we know it. March 1 is Baba Marta Day, one of the most popular holidays among Bulgarians. It’s a time to show friendship and wish each other health throughout the year. People make martenitisi, a charm bracelet, from red and white thread to give to others. The day is in honor of Baba Marta, Grandmother March. She’s the only female month, and her mood is reflected in the changeable weather those of us in the northern hemisphere experience as spring attempts to arrive.

This month, I’d like to share a memory about Martenitsa from my memoir, The Wanderer – A Tear and A Smile.

~~~

Sometimes, we need a sign or a miracle to encourage and empower us. As Oprah Winfrey likes to say, “Life is whispering to us; we need to listen.” It’s important to understand the signs and follow our intuition.

Years ago, on a gloomy, rainy spring day, I was dragging my feet with a bowed head, absorbed in personal and work-related problems that stifled my soul. I was in Boston Public Garden; I didn’t see or hear anything because I was so closed off inside my world. Anger tightened my throat, and my coat weighed me down like iron.

Then, in the distance, I saw a flower perched on the bare branches of a tree. It danced like a butterfly. When I came closer, I noticed that it wasn’t a flower; it was the traditional Bulgarian amulet called martenitsa. I knew for certain because it wasn’t any random martenitsa, but Pijo and Penda, the boy and the girl made with red and white threads.

penda-and-pijo

For the people passing by, this amulet meant nothing. But for me, it was a ray of light penetrating the clouds. I felt that somewhere near me, someone shared my cultural beliefs. Someone had put the martenitsa on the branch hoping for health and good omens. People going by were walking their dogs, chatting, and taking pictures. I stopped to look at their faces, hoping to spot the person who might have put the amulet there. I was looking for a sign. Perhaps the person would come back and touch the martenitsa.

People smiled at me, and a group of cheerful girls stopped to touch the martenitsa, but they didn’t know about it. They didn’t even know where Bulgaria was, but I expected that. I proudly described what it meant and the history of the amulet. They looked puzzled. One of them said she thought it was the Kabala Amulet or a sacral ritual. They took some pictures and went back to their own world. A little birdie was singing its song at the top of the tree; I felt it was talking to me to cheer me up and help me embrace the day.

The wind blew away the clouds, and the sun bloomed over the branches covering them and the martenitsa with gold. A few sparkling drops of water trickled down from the branch onto my hair and face. I wiped my cheeks with my palm and felt refreshed from their cold touch. The sun shone and tickled my face. Although I wore several layers of winter clothes and held my laptop bag, I felt as light as a feather, ready to fly in the breeze. I left the garden, turned a few times and still saw the boy and the girl dancing on the branch.

On my way home on the train, I looked out the window and kept my eyes glued to the last sun rays. The day was gone, but I had hope that tomorrow would be better. The martenitsa for me was a sign, a sign to embrace the positive in anticipation of a new beginning from the universe. As Byron says, “O, wind, If winter comes can spring be far behind.”

In Bulgarian folklore and traditions, the martenitsa is a symbol of the coming of spring and of new life and new beginnings. Several legends describe the origins of this amulet. I’ll tell you one that’s in my book Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Myths, Legends, and Folklore. The tale is about Penda and Pijo, the girl and boy I found dancing in the wind.

Penda and Pijo Story

A long time ago, a Tsar named Pijo loved a woman named Penda. When Pijo found out she had been kidnapped, he wanted to search for her, but he couldn’t leave his kingdom. He sent carrier pigeons with messages asking his loyal subjects if they’d seen Penda. He also asked a brave, trusted soldier to look for her. The man left on a hot summer day and searched for her well into winter.

Far from his homeland, he met an old woman and eleven old men sitting on the cold ground by a well. The old woman struggled to rise, so the soldier helped her, then lifted the bucket of water from the well to give her a drink.

She said, “I’m Baba Marta (Grandmother March), and these are my brothers, the other eleven months of the year. Because you’ve been kind to me, you’ll find what you’re looking for.”

Soon the soldier discovered the house where Penda was held prisoner. He untied her and was going to take her home, when the man who kidnapped her returned. They fought for many hours. The soldier tired and feared his strength would fail. He jabbed once more and killed the bad man, then collapsed. Penda gave him a drink of water.

“Our journey back will take a long time,” she said. “I must let Pijo know I’m safe.” She wrote a note and placed it inside a tube. With a white thread, she tied it to the leg of a carrier pigeon Pijo had sent, then released the bird.

Along the way, the bird scraped its leg on a branch. Blood had stained the thread by the time the bird finally reached Pijo. When he read the note, he was so happy. He tied the blood-stained thread to his shirt until Penda returned safely.

~~~

That’s one story about why we use red and white to make martenitsi even today. There are many others.

Those Pesky Insects

Spring also means the arrival of insects. In our current work in progress, 77 ½ Magical, Healing Herbs, we’ve discovered several plants that are insect repellents.

Herbs that repel bugs

But more than that, there’s also a plant that kills mosquitoes and their larva. It’s called Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris). Its seeds are sticky. A way to get rid of mosquitoes is to toss seeds into the water where mosquitoes breed. The seeds not only emit a substance toxic to the larvae, but they also attract mosquitoes. The sticky, gummy substance binds the mouths of the mosquitoes to the seed.

Happy Baba Marta Day! Blessings and happiness to you all.

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