Did your life come with a book of formulas and instructions for using them? Formulas for dealing with any life situation, be it physical, mental or spiritual?
I know mine didn't. I mean, when I was born I wasn't given some big book of magic formulas to make my life easier. Once my grandmother died, however, I did receive a large recipe book with lots of scraps of paper with a variety of things written on them. Tips and hints for running a smooth household, home remedies and of course, wonderful recipes for delicious food.
In the past, family receipt books were commonplace. These large books were written by ordinary housewives and sometimes men or doctors who were under the assumption they knew how to run a household and advised women accordingly. These family receipt books contained everything from how to make candles, to how to cook and to how to cure livestock from diseases. They also contained home remedies for treating the family for many common illnesses of the day, because most people could not afford to go to a doctor or have a doctor visit. So, it was the Mother's place to learn these things and take care of the family. Moms were the family doctor.
During the 1800s, we see many of these receipt books published for the general public. These books became a primary way of passing down common folk knowledge to subsequent generations.
Within plantation households, slave masters often relied on the herbal curing knowledge of the slave men and women - the rootdoctors - for healing illnesses that were not considered major illnesses. In fact, many times the slave remedies were recorded in these receipt books without acknowledging the source of the knowledge.
One of the oldest folk remedies is the herbal liniment. Liniments have been used for thousands of years, harnessing the natural and medicinal qualities of certain plants for the external treatment of certain conditions. An herbal liniment is a medicinal liquid formulated with herbs in a base of ordinary rubbing alcohol or Witch Hazel, or made into a salve using a light oil base. A good therapeutic liniment is effective for conditions like sore and inflamed muscles and joints, relief from arthritis and rheumatism and circulation problems, for example.
Many times, an herb or root used in a folk remedy also possesses magical properties and is ideal for use in rootwork. Solomon's Seal (polygonatum biflorum), for example, has fabulous medicinal properties and equally as fabulous magical properties. Medicinally, it works well as a liniment for tightening or loosening tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints. It is a valuable connective tissue anti-inflammatory, and is known to help moderate the symptoms of osteoarthritis and repetitive use injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. Magically, Solomon's Seal root is associated with all things success, to gain wisdom, ward off evil and contain or "seal" harmful energy. In our Folk Magic Formulary course, we focus on many such herbs with this dual medicinal/magical capacity and teach our students how to harvest, harness and use them to enhance and improve their daily lives.
For more information, visit Folk Magic Formulary