The Story of Tulsi

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tulsi Collage

I give thanks to this goddess plant Tulsi. she has helped me deal with this stress and overwhelming demands of summer. She’s helped me to relax – which has given me the energy to say no to things that don’t feed me and to finding the energy for the things that need to get done and those nurturing things that feed me in return.  She carries an offering bowl, she offers us so much and in return what do we offer her? 

tulsi doll order

It is hot here in the Appalachians. Way too hot for this transplant to cope. Summer is hectic enough – so many things demanding that small precious amount of energy. Energy that is quickly depleted from a bad nights sleep – which starts the cycle of the next day off with even less energy to begin with!

But there is magic in these nights. A chorus of singing frogs and a light show from hundreds of will-o-the-wisp fireflies pulsing in the trees. Pulsing in rhythm with a  scattering of stars sprinkled out in the dark skies above them.

What I really miss is a cooling down at night. Just now in Scotland it barely gets dark. There is a long dwindling twilight stretching out for hours. Oh how strange it is here to go indoors and suddenly when you come out in 20 mins later it’s already dark. That will never cease to confuse me, with images of a great magician robbing me of twilight. Twilights are powerful thresholds, they do things to us – that gradual waning of light. It’s in that threshold that spirituality was born, there that our ancestors listened to the land – and that the land told them the sacred stories.

The drop of temperature of Scottish nights resets the body, offers a time to dream. Without it I feel zapped of energy under this unrelenting sun – and a fear of a bill i I were to blast the AC. Summer arrives with a hundred different demands on our precious energy, all wanting attention at the same time. It doesn’t take much to have a melt down, there have been times where I just can’t cope and a horrible anxiety grips me. When things get to much I turn to Tulsi or holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) and she offers sanctuary.

potImage: seedsofindia.com

Tulsi has been honored as sacred in India for thousands and thousands of years. It is kept in many Indian courtyards where it is believed to provide divine protection.  For more than 5000 years Tulsi has been considered India’s “Queen of Herbs” and has been revered as one of the most sacred herbs in India, infused with healing power. Hindus view Tulsi (also spelled Tulasi or Thulasi) as a goddess in the form of a plant bestowed with great spiritual and healing powers. According to legend, no amount of gold could outweigh Krishna’s power, but a single Tulsi leaf placed on the pan in loving devotion tilted that scale. In India today, Tulsi is still traditionally grown in an earthenware pot in every family home or garden, and the leaves are used to make a delicious and refreshing tea that possesses wonderful health benefits.

As Tulsi traveled west along the early trade routes from the Orient to Europe, it became known to the Christians as “sacred” or “holy” basil as is reflected in its Latin botanical name,Ocimum sanctum. They hailed Tulsi as “The King of Herbs’ instead of as a queen, and Holy Basil became routinely included in legends, offerings and worship rituals and was looked on by many as a gift of Christ.

Medicinally it’s been used in the treatment of colds and flus  to cleanse the respiratory tract of toxins, and in the relief of  gas and bloating.  The oil is an antioxidant and is used for pain and arthritis.  Recent scientific reports have confirmed the healing potential in medical conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer. 

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Promotional video from Organic India

Tulsi is considered an adoptogen, a group of herbs which greatly improve your body’s ability to adapt to stress, whether it’s a hectic schedule, heat or cold, noise, high altitudes or any number of other stressors. This elite class of herbs impart strength, energy, stamina, endurance, and they improve mental clarity. In many parts of the non-Western world adaptogens are used extensively in high-risk, fast-reflex occupations, from athletes to miners to deep sea divers. Stress poisons every inch of the body. It cripples the immune system, upsets delicate hormones, and disrupts digestion, among other things. Most dangerous of all, it dials up inflammation. Stress lies at the root of every inflammatory disease, says Aggarwal, who is chief of the cytokine research section in the department of clinical immunology, bioimmunotherapy, and experimental therapeutics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Ginseng and other adaptogenic herbs share rare and coveted traits — they mitigate the negative impact of stress by strengthening and stabilizing your body. “No category of herbs holds more potential for overworked, overstressed Americans than adaptogens,” says David Winston, RH (AHG), herbalist, ethnobotanist, and coauthor of Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief (Healing Arts Press, 2007). “They are a bridge that can carry us over stressful situations with our health intact.”

The idea behind adaptogenic herbs is that a plant’s DNA can do for people what it’s done for plants for millions of years — make us more pliable, adaptable, and resilient. Each of these herbs has its own personality, thanks to different active ingredients. Some are more stimulating, while others are more calming; some dial down a hyperactive immune system, and others increase immune response.

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Women carry holy basil plants (Ocimum tenuiflorum) on their heads during a religious procession in Hyderabad, India

Tulsi also plays a vital role in the Indian lunar calendar. Kaartik (October-November) is loved by Tulsi. During this time the holy plants are decorated with structures of sugar cane, mango leaves and flowers. One day during this period is celebrated as “Tulsi Vivah” or the wedding day of Tulsi and Shaligram (stone form of a sacred lingam). The Tulasi goddess is formally married to Lord Vishnu annually on the eleventh bright day of Kaartik; this inaugurates the marriage season in India.

Information sources:

http://www.seedsofindia.com

http://organicindiausa.com/what-is-tulsi/

http://www.medicinehunter.com/adaptogens

https://experiencelife.com/article/ancient-healers-adaptogens/

An Intro to the Tuatha de Danann

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Sunday 06/28. 10.30-5.30pm. Woodfin (5 Mins from Downtown Asheville)

 

‘As a path [art making] can take us more deeply into whatever place it is our soul calls home…Through receiving and giving form to new images, we breathe life into ancient scriptures and eternal teachings…I have seen art lead each seeker to his or her own personal wisdom teachings. These personal teachings strengthen and elaborate that which we know most deeply and will lead us to new understandings o teachings we may have grown up with that no longer seem to fit’.                         Art as a Spiritual Path by Pat B. Allen

 

As we explore aspects of the shining people, the Tuatha de Danann (the people of the Goddess Danu) we will follow our curiosity and weave some of those elements into our doll making. We will meet in circle, each sharing a little from what aspects in the pre-reading resources resonated with us. We will consider what symbols drew us in, what images come to mind – as the Tuatha de Danann are already working on you before you even sign up for this workshop!

Our shamanic journey will lead us into the realms of the shinning people, the faery otherworld….

As we create the safe container for the day and share and explore what aspects we are drawn to as well as our experiences in the shamanic journey we will consider, as Tina Forster suggests, that the intention held while making the doll can offer the very same container and witnessing presence on a personal level.

We enter into a deeper process of doll making – our creative process will be carried out in silence (and mindful conversation around doll making), so we can go deep into the flow of the process, submerging ourselves as we co-create with the shining ones.

We will end the day by sharing our experiences in the journey and through the process of doll making – and how we might work with our dolls, and how they work with us!

full details and booking

An Introduction to the Tuatha de Danann

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 Danu by Druidssart. Click on image to go to her Etsy store.

Sunday 06/28. 10.30-5.30pm. Woodfin (5 Mins from Downtown Asheville)

This workshop is a response to lots of questions i’ve been asked about the Tuatha de Danann, and although this is a huge topic the workshop will cover the following:

What exactly is the Tuatha de Danann?
Who are the Tuatha de Danann- are Brighid and the Morrighan members?
How many invasions were there in early Ireland (and who were they all?)
How did the Tuatha de Danann (actual people) become faeries?
Where did the Tuatha de Danann come from – and what is their significance?
Who are the Sidhe? What are the Sidhe mounds?
What exactly is the otherworld, the land of faery?
Why are they called the Shinning people?
What’s the relevance of the Tuatha de Danann today?

 imagesYou will receive an information pack a couple of weeks before the workshop  – some reading about the Tuatha de Danann through video, websites and articles – you can read as much or as little as you wish. On the day we will gather in sacred circle answering questions through a sharing our knowledge.                                                                                              With live drumming you will be guided in a short meditation which will lead you onto your shamanic journey to meet the sidhe. To live drumming you will undertake a shamanic journey to meet the Sidhe (and receive a CD recording of the guided meditation and drumming). The there will be a period of silence to record the impressions of your journey – journalling, or drawing your impressions or just spending some time in meditation or consulting tarot cards ((Wildwood and Greenwood tarot decks will be available).

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Sidhe dolls

Sacred art

After a shared lunch we will gather again in circle beginning by sharing the impressions and experiences from our shamanic our journeys, then gathering branches and wool we will begin our art project. We will consciously begin making our Sidhe doll by acknowledging that through our doll making we are linking to an ancient heritage and that in creating our doll we are entering into a weaving of co-creating. Our Sidhe dolls are made by a needle felted process where we needle felt around one main branch or several thin branches – while branches will be provided you may want to bring your own (full details will be given at sign up). All doll making tools and materials are provided.

We will end our day retreat by sharing our dolls and the experience of making them and reflecting on the Tuatha de Danann and what special meaning they have for us personally.

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Priestess of the Deer Clan

 

 

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She is the priestess of the Deer Clan, their shaman, guide. It is she who petitions the spirits to bring babies safely into this world – and she who sings the old songs as she again midwifes them back home to the otherworld. Her people honor the deer, the great creatrix who is seen as mother of the universe by many peoples around the world.

Her role is to inspire, be a focus of connection to the wise women and healers in our distant lineage. She can sit in a special place or adorn an altar.

 

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Blood Moon Sister Dolls

left edit 1Blood Moon sisters are a series of dolls that honor a women’s blood cycle and it’s moon ties.

A cycle that was once honored for the gifts it bestowed, not just the obvious fertility but the span of a month – from a time to work outwardly in the world and time she is called to the inner world. A time for listening to dreams and visions, a time to journey between the world with personal intention but also asking guidance for the community. A time to soak in this contact with the divine and create sacred art and sacred crafts.

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This Blood Moon Sister doll wears a waning crescent, the last crescent before the dark moon – she makes her preparations, observing within her the reactions and insights that are happening. She takes time to be by herself, to take walks and look for omens and signs. She takes time for meditation and journeying, she takes time to gaze at the night sky and realize her place in all of this. She takes time to connect to all the other women through time that pulled in this moon magic!

Name your own price

I am just beginning this series of dolls – all all that has to be woven into her in what she represents. I hope eventually to use them while working with young women around this sacred cycle – and I am offering a ‘name your own price’ – so just leave a comment below – or contact me via the contact page. I also take commissions of you are interested in a Moon Sister doll incorporating special symbols of your own meaning.

Measurements & embellishment

The Moon Sister doll featured stands 10 inches tall and 3 and a half inches wide at her base. Her necklace resembles a counting stick that women used to mark their own cycle and note the changes in the moon. Her necklace also holds a shell and a red clay bead.

Making process

This doll is made by a needle felting process. I use a barbed needle that felts the wool through hundreds of repetitive actions by hand. Once the basic core and head are completed then I add the hair, a layer of wool over the body for the dress, embellishing yarns and any specific clothing.

Shipping

She ships first class with USPS with tracking (if within the USA) gift wrapped in a protective box.

* Please note as she is made of wool I advise keeping her out of the reach of pets.

 

 

Black shrines & red altars

black shrine 1 editblack shrine 2 The exploration into creating shrines continues. I really didn’t enjoy paper mache, even after sanding it wasn’t precise enough. This shrine has 3 layers o paper mache over a foam board base. I added and glued the string which is the painted gold spirals. It’s sturdy enough but I don’t like the detail. black shrine 3

I’m planning smaller dolls – maybe 3 small priestesses

I found a wonderful paper mache artist on youtube who create paper mache clay which uses builders joint compound mixed in with some other details to create an air drying clay. So materials have been gathered and this is my next experiment. In the meantime, with the need to build an altar I gathered fabric scraps and sticks, beads and shells – inspired by the full moon – or the full moon working through me. Title? The red altar, red altered…? red altar 1 edit