The Natural Life: Can you guess what this all adds up to?

Can you guess what all these ingredients make? 
"Enzymatically hydrolyzed reduced minerals, whey protein concentrate, palm olein, soy, coconut, high-oleic safflower oils, lactose, maltodextrin, patoassium citrate, calcium phosphate, calcium chloride, salt, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide, soy lecithin, mono and diglycerides, inositol, choline bitartrate sodium ascorbate, alpha tocophyeryl acetate, naicinamide, calcum pantothenate, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, folic acid, phylloquinone, biotin, vitamin D3, vitamin B12, taurine, L-carnitine"

Doesn't sound to appetizing does it? Would you believe that's what up to 2/3s of mothers feed their babies? Yeah, it's sad but true! Those are the ingredients in BABY FORMULA! Now, many people will read those and say "Well, I see things like potassium and zinc, aren't these good things?" And yes, in natural form they are, but these aren't in natural form. This isn't zinc, it's zinc sulfate, which any first year high school chemistry student can tell you is toxic. And the same goes for the potassium chloride, copper sulfate, ferrous sulfate and just about everything else in there... 



Now, if you have NO OTHER OPTION, obviously formula is better than starvation! But with all the options out there - breastfeeding, pumping, homemade formula and even the option now to purchase (or even get free) breast-milk - there are so many better options, I can't imagine why anyone who knew better, would continue to choose this stuff... I know I surely wouldn't drink it, I would never give it to my child!

The Natural Life: Egg Yolk for Babies

Egg yolk should be baby's first solid food, starting at 4 months, whether baby is breastfed or formula-fed. Egg yolks from pastured hens will contain the special long-chain fatty acids so critical for the optimal development of the brain and nervous system. The whites may cause an allergic reaction and should not be given to baby until he is at least one year old.

Ingredients:
  • 1 organic egg from a pasture-fed hen
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated raw organic liver, frozen for 14 days Note: It is VERY important that the liver be frozen for 14 days before using.

Instructions:
  • Boil egg for 3 1/2 minutes.
  • Place in a bowl and peel off shell.
  • Remove egg white and discard.
  • Yolk should be soft and warm, not hot, with its enzyme content intact.
**If you wish to add liver, grate on the small holes of a grater while frozen. Allow to warm up and stir into egg yolk.

The Natural Life: Making your own Baby Formula

Sure, breast is best, but it's not always an option. If you're on medication or have breast issues, supply issues, infections, surgery or of course if your child is adopted, breast-milk may simply not be an option. If you read the labels or do some research on Formula Ingredients and what they are, I'm sure you would be SHOCKED! This stuff is supposed to be healthy for babies, but in reality it's far far from it.

Now, if you MUST use formula, but you don't want to use all the artificial, chemical laced baby formulas from the shelf, what do you do? Well, you make your own! Here are SOME recipes for home made formulas, I'm sure I will be adding to this list, and if you look hard enough you can find more. But these will at least give you somewhere to start.

I do want to point out, before we get in to the actual recipes, that as with ANY new or different diet change you need to make sure you are using high quality ingredients and that you both research each option and make a point to watch your child for ANY reaction. I suggest you start them on a new formula on a day when you will be with them ALL DAY, and make a point to watch them for at least 3 days for reactions. Now, I say do this with ALL formulas, whether home made or not.

NOTE - All of these formulas are simply mix and serve or mix and store... So I'm not listing instructions on each one. 

Goats Milk Formula
  •  13oz liquid Goat Milk
  • 19 oz distilled or spring water
  • 2TB sugar

Goats Milk II
  • 2 Cups - Goats Milk
  • 2 Cups - Enriched Vanilla Rice Dream
  • 1 T. - Black Strap Molasses
  • 1 T. - Liquid Acidophilus
  • 1 T. - Flax Seed Oil
  • 1 t. - Liquid Vitamin C
  • 1 t. - Liquid CalMag (calcium & magnesium)
  • 1/8 t. - Wheat Germ (powdered )
  • 16 drops - Trace Minerals (concentrated) 

Goats Milk III
  • 4 oz Goats Milk
  • 2 oz Carrot Juice
  • 2 oz Water
  • a few drops Flax Oil (EFAs) with DHA
  • 1/4tsp nutritional yeast {for the folic acid and b12 boost that goats milk lacks}

Goat's Milk IV
  • 2 cups water(highest quality)
  • 2 cups goat milk
  • 2 cups hemp nut seed milk
  • 1/4 cup goat whey
  • 1 tablespoon colostrum
  • 4 tablespoon lactose
  • 2 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon camu berry powder
  • 1 capsule of aged garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of infant probiotics
  • 1 tablespoon of lecithin
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon of cod liver oil
  • 1 teaspoon of flax seed oil

Raw Cows Milk
  • 2 cups whole raw milk
  • 1 7/8 cups filtered water 
  • 1/4 cup homemade liquid whey
  • 2 or more tablespoons good quality cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon high-vitamin cod liver oil
  • 1 teaspoon expeller-expressed sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Dry Formula Mix
This recipe's ingredients are very specific and can be found at either:
Natren 866-462-8736, or Radiant Life 888-593-8333

  • 4 tablespoons lactose powder
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 teaspoons gelatin
  • 1/4 teaspoon Natren bifidobacterium infantis
  • 1/4 teaspoon acerola powder

For ALL Formula:
Warm with hot water from the tap, or place glass bottle with goat milk in a pan full of water and gently heat. Test on inside of your arm before feeding to baby. Milk should be warm, not hot. DO NOT MICROWAVE!!!

Give baby only enough that they will drink and refrigerate, or freeze the rest. Do not reuse any milk left over from baby bottle after baby has finished drinking.

Unused milk will stay fresh for 3-5 days in refrigerator.

To freeze, separate unused goat milk into equal parts and store individually in freezer. Frozen breast-milk or goat milk stays fresh between 3 to 6 months in freezer.


**If you will be using formula as a supplement, in addition to breast-milk, don't worry about additives.
***If this will be your babies only source of food, you MUST add liquid infant vitamins to the child's diet, do not add it to the formula. Each brand will have it's own dosage, make sure to follow the dosage according to the package. Your pediatrician may be able to give you an idea of what brand is best!

The Natural Life: What's in your Vaccine?

One of the key points to understanding why vaccines can be so dangerous is knowing what is actually in them. I've heard from parent after parent that vaccines are "Mercury Free," "Chemical Free," and that they "Just contain some dead viruses." ALL of these statements are 100% FALSE, FALSE & FALSE!!!  It never ceases to amaze me what people believe simply because their doctor said it. And doctors will say anything!

Now, I could sit here and type up the entire list of vaccines and their complete ingredients - BUT why do that when the CDC has been so wonderful in providing all of that information in PFD files for us!
I suggest you save them to your computer so you have them on hand all the time while you are doing your research!

The Natural Life: Reading Labels

Recently I read an article about how many "Green" products really aren't. And it reminded me of a story, which I felt I needed to share here. When I first started trying to switch over to a greener more eco-friendly lifestyle I found it to be not quite as easy as I first thought. One of the first thing I switched was our dish detergent, because it made sense to be a good place to start - I mean, why put all those extra chemicals on the dishes we were going to put out food on? So, that's where I decided to start.

I was super excited to see that there were a number of name brand companies making products labeled "Green," "Natural" or "Eco-Friendly." So, the next time I was at the store I picked one up and put it in the buggy... I didn't ever think to read the label. Why would I? I saw words like "All Natural" and "Eco-Friendly" right on the label, why would I have cause to think it wasn't really so green?

So, anyways, I got home, put away  the groceries and started to load the dishwasher. I unscrewed the lid and pulled back the foil so I could fill the machine. When I did I splashed some of the product on my hand and shirt, which of course, was brand new & black (figures right?).  At the time I didn't think anything of it. I figured I would finish loading the dishes, and then go clean up my hands and shirt, no big deal... Well, I was wrong! I finished up the dishes and went to clean up...

Now, I am HIGHLY allergic to Chlorine, but this was supposed to be a natural and green product, why would I worry about Chlorine? Well, I should have! Not only was my shirt (you know the brand new black one) ruined, but my hand had broken out in an allergic rash. At that point, I went to read the label.  Let me just say, this was FAR from Green or Eco-Friendly!

It was at that point that I started to do some more homework about what it means to be a green or eco-friendly product. As I learned there is really no guidelines or rules which are required to be met in order to label something as green, all natural or eco-friendly. These terms are literally free for companies to use, regardless of how truthful the statement is. What I found was many companies replace one or two chemicals with a more natural option and then call the entire product green, while not actually creating a product which is eco-friendly...

What I found to be even more disturbing is that a growing number of companies are sprouting up claiming to have Green products, while masking their ingredients behind "code words" in an effort to trick customers in to purchasing their products - usually at a higher price than they could purchase similar products somewhere else.

It's for this reason that it's very important to read the labels to everything prior to purchasing. If you are looking to purchase a product online, request an ingredients list or copy of the label before ordering. IF a company refuses to provide you with these things, my advice is to look elsewhere for products which are more honest and open, a truly green company, has no reason to hide their ingredients.

It's also very important that you actually know what you're looking for. While it's obvious that ingredients like Chlorine, Ammonia or Benzine are toxic you may not know about others. A good rule of thumb is if you can't pronounce it, don't use it! If you have questions about an ingredient in something, take 30 seconds to run an internet search on it, you'll easily get an answer. However, it's these "code words" which are in my opinion more dangerous than the unpronounceable chemical names, because many people look them over without really questioning what they need. Words such as "Fragrance," "Preservative," "Cleaning or Brightening Agent" or "Stabilizers" should be looked at as higher questionable. These terms usually replace the names of chemicals (you know, those unpronounceable ones) that are far from Eco-Friendly and can in fact be very dangerous.

You'll find that the vast majority of things labeled as green, really aren't. For me, I've gotten to the point where purchasing "green" products means cleaning with Vinegar and Baking Soda, and using products like Crisco and Corn Starch on my children... I'm still mastering making things like soap, shampoo and dishwasher detergent, so for these I do my best to buy what I call "greener" products. By greener I mean, not completely eco-friendly, but greener than your average option. Once I master making my own, I'll stop using these options all together. In some future posts I will post some "how too" information for making your own stuff... A good rule of thumb when making your own products is if you can't eat it don't use it... Please notice (it's sad I have to say this) I said CAN'T not, WON'T, simply because something CAN be eaten, doesn't mean it should be...

Seeing Is Believing!

So any of you who are long time readers know how I feel about living "green" whenever possible. And now that I've been combining my "Natural Living Blog" and this one you're learning about my support of cloth diapering.

But sometimes it's hard to really wrap your head around the damage disposable diapers really do. So, I wanted to share something that someone sent to me today... Maybe this will help "hit home" how much using cloth really does help the planet as a whole!


This is an approximation of how many disposable diapers the average child will go through. EACH ONE of these diapers will take 500 years to completely decompose. In that process they will release Dioxin, Formaldehyde, Chlorine and numerous other chemicals in to the Earth and Water around them... 

Even choosing to use Cloth part time will decrease this amount by a large percentage, as well as reduce your child's exposure to such chemicals as well! 

Give Cloth A Chance!

The Natural Life: Laundry Soap Recipes

There are most likely just as many home made laundry soap recipes as there are store bought ones. But here are SOME of the ones I have encountered... Making your own laundry soap will not only save you money, but will allow you to control the ingredients and their quality.

Just as each family will have their own needs and preferences when it comes to store bought soaps, you'll encounter that for home made too. I suggest if you see a recipe you like, make a small batch and see what you think if you are nervous about trying something new. But since most ingredients are either already in your home or are very inexpensive to buy, even if you decide to make a large batch and don't like it, you really aren't loosing much!

OPTIONAL: If you prefer to have a "prettier" smell or if you would like more of an antibacterial or anti-grease property to your laundry soap, you can add Essential Oils. Tea Tree Oil has great antibacterial properties. Sweet Orange is wonderful for grease. And there are a myriad of options for fragrance. 10-15 drops per 2 gallons

Liquid Laundry Soap

Recipe #1

You will need:
  • 1 quart Water (boiling)
  • 2 cups Bar soap (grated)
  • 2 cups Borax
  • 2 cups Washing Soda
*Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted.
*Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.
*Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.
*Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Stir the soap each time you use it (will gel).

Recipe #2

You will need:
  • Hot water
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1 Soap bar
*Grate the bar soap and add to a large saucepan with hot water. Stir over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
*Fill a 10 gallon pail half full of hot water. Add the melted soap, Borax and Washing soda, stir well until all powder is dissolved. Top the pail up with more hot water.
*Use 1 cup per load, stirring soap before each use (will gel).

Recipe #3

You will need:
  • Hot water
  • 1/2 cup Washing Soda
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1/3 bar Soap (grated)

*In a large pot, heat 3 pints of water. Add the grated bar soap and stir until melted. Then add the washing soda and borax. Stir until powder is dissolved, then remove from heat.
*In a 2 gallon clean pail, pour 1 quart of hot water and add the heated soap mixture. Top pail with cold water and stir well.
*Use 1/2 cup per load, stirring soap before each use (will gel).

Recipe #4

You will need:
  • Hot water
  • 1 bar (4.5 oz) Ivory Soap - grated
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
*In a large saucepan add grated soap and enough hot water to cover. Heat over medium-low heat and stir until soap is melted.
*Fill a large pail with 2.5 gallons of hot water, add hot soap mixture. Stir until well mixed.
*Then add the washing soda, again stirring until well mixed.
*Set aside to cool.
*Use 1/2 cup per full load, stirring well before each use (will gel)

Recipe #5

You will need:
  • 2.5 gallons Water (hot)
  • 1 Bar soap (grated)
  • 3/4 cup Washing Soda
  • 3/4 cup Borax
  • 2 TBS Glycerin
*Melt bar soap over medium-low heat topped with water, stir until soap is melted.
*In a large pail, pour 2.5 gallons of hot water, add melted soap mixture, washing soda, borax and glycerin. Mix well.
*Use 1/2 cup per full load.

Recipe #6

You will need:
  • 2 cups Bar soap (grated)
  • 2 cups Washing Soda
  • 2 - 2.5 gallons hot water
*Melt grated soap in saucepan with water to cover. Heat over medium-low heat and stir until soap is dissolved.
*Pour hot water in large pail, add hot soap and washing soda. Stir very well.
*Use 1 cup per full load.

Recipe #7


You will need:
  • 2 gallons Water (hot)
  • 1 bar Soap (grated)
  • 2 cups Baking soda (yes baking soda this time–not washing soda)
*Melt grated soap in a saucepan with enough hot water to cover. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring frequently until soap is melted.
*In a large pail, pour 2 gallons hot water. Add melted soap, stir well.
*Then add the baking soda, stir well again.
*Use 1/2 cup per full load, 1 cup per very soiled load.

Recipe #8
DR. BRONNER'S HOMEMADE LAUNDRY SOAP

You will need:
  • 1 cup Dr. Bronner's pure castile liquid soap
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup salt

*Warm the water and mix with salt and baking soda until dissolved.
*Pour into a one-gallon container.
*Add the Dr. Bronner's and fill the remainder of the gallon jar with water.
*Use 1/4 cup of laundry soap per load.
*This laundry soap doesn't create suds, but it doesn't need to in order to get your laundry clean.


Powdered Laundry Soap

Recipe #1

You will need:
  • 12 cups Borax
  • 8 cups Baking Soda
  • 8 cups Washing Soda
  • 8 cups Bar soap (grated)
*Mix all ingredients well and store in a sealed tub.
*Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load.

Recipe #2

You will need:
  • 2 cups Fels Naptha Soap (finely grated)
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • 1 cup Borax
*Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container.
*Use 2 tablespoons per full load.

TIPS
  • Use Milk Jugs or Old Laundry Soap Jugs for liquid/gel soaps
  • Gallon sized "Food containers" are great for powdered soap storage
  • Remember to check the ingredients of any soap used, some of them are less than healthy choices! I prefer Castile Soaps but there are many options out there.
  • Use a food processor or blender to grate or powder bars of soap quickly and easily.


**More to come! Post yours as a comment & I'll add it!

The Natural Life: Wipe Solution Recipes

    I have never believed in the "one size fits all" myth, and that goes for wipe solutions as well. Some parents will prefer to just use water, while others will prefer more bells and whistles. I suggest trying out a few and seeing what you like best. I'll be adding to this list as I find more recipes, and I would love to hear yours if you have them! These solutions are cloth safe and even better, face and finger safe!

Common Cloth Wipe Solution Recipe Ingredients:
    Most of the recipes below, as well as others you'll find, will contain many of the same or even similar ingredients. Before you decide to make your own solution, it's best to know why you're using these things, so here are some common ones:

Oil:  Helps the wipe glide across baby's skin and keeps skin soft
Soap:  Cleanses by removing all traces of urine and feces
Essential Oil:  Added for antibacterial and/or aromatherapy purposes.
Water:  The main ingredient in each recipe, cleanses the diaper area and dilutes the other ingredients

    Each ingredient is going to add it's own "personality" to the solution and each can come with pros and cons. I'm a fan of using a single solution for at least a few days without using any others, this way SHOULD your child have an allergy to an ingredient, it's much easier to understand which one. Even though most of these options are chemical free or close to it, there can still be allergens in them. For people like me, Essential Oils can be a BIG problem! And for others it could be an oil ingredient or something else. So try not to mix them until you know that there is no reaction...

**I wish I didn't have to say this, but please keep all wipe solution ingredients away from your child. You may not think that these everyday products can be dangerous, but some infants have suffered respiratory problems after aspirating baby oil. And remember, it takes less than a Table Spoon of water to drown an infant... So be safe, not sorry!

    When it comes to actually creating your solution, I prefer to start with water and add from there. Otherwise your bowl/bottle and tools can become coated in oil or soap and less will actually end up in your final solution.

I suggest using bottled water and not tap, although tap will work. The reason here is because tap water can contain all kinds of things from softeners to high levels of Chlorine, which will settle as it sits. Also, you'll want to make small batches - maybe once a week - to avoid mildew or mustiness.

Cloth Wipe Solution Recipes

Almond 'n' Chamomile
 *2 chamomile tea bags
 *2 teaspoons almond oil
 *2 cups hot water
Steep the tea bags in the hot water then add the oil.

Anti-Fungal
 *1/4 cup white vinegar *1 tablespoon calendula oil
 *A few drops lavender oil
 *A few drops tea tree oil
 *1/4 cup 100% aloe vera gel
 *1 cup water
Omit vinegar if baby has a raw rash.

Anti-Fungal Too
Similar to the other anti-fungal recipe, but less vinegar and water.
 *1 teaspoon white vinegar
 *1 tablespoon calendula oil
 *A few drops lavender oil
 *A few drops tea tree oil
 *1/4 cup 100% aloe vera gel
 *1/2 cup water
 
Basic Wipe Solution
This basic recipe can be adapted by changing the type of soap or oil.
 *1/2 cup baby oil
 *1/2 cup baby wash
 *2 cups water

Castile Solution
Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap comes in several yummy scents!
 *1 tablespoon almond, apricot, or other oil
 *1 tablespoon Dr Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap
 *2 drops tea tree oil
 *1 drop lavender oil
 *1 cup water

Chamomile 'n' Honey
 *1 chamomile tea bag
 *1 teaspoon honey
 *1 cup boiling water
Brew the tea, add the honey, and drink any leftovers!

Easy Peasy
 *2 tablespoons oil
 *2 tablespoons baby wash
 *1 1/2 cups water

Eight is Great
Similar ingredients as other recipes, but in different amounts.
 *1/8 cup vegetable oil
 *1/8 cup baby wash
 *8 drops lavender oil
 *4 drops tea tree oil
 *2 cups water

Essential Oil Solution
With three different EOs contributing their unique properties...
 *4 cups water warmed in microwave
 *2-4 drops Tea Tree Oil
 *2-4 drops Lavender Essential Oi1
 *1 Tablespoon Grapeseed Oil
 *1 Tablespoon Calendula Oil
 *2 Tablespoon Baby Wash

Fruit 'n' Veggie
 *1 teaspoon fruit-based oil (apricot, olive, grapeseed, etc)
 *1 tablespoon vegetable-based soap (like Dr. Bronner's liquid castile)
 *1 teaspoon 100% aloe vera gel
 *1 cup water

Just One
 *1 chamomile tea bag
 *1 teaspoon oil
 *1 teaspoon baby bath or shampoo
 *1 drop lavender oil
 *1 cup hot water

Lavender 'n' Tea Tree
Very Popular
 *1/8 cup olive oil
 *1 tablespoon baby shampoo
 *4 drops tea tree oil
 *8 drops lavender oil
 *3 cups water

No Measuring
Don't measure for this one, just estimate amounts.
 *2 squirts baby oil
 *2 squirts baby wash
 *1 drop Essential Oil of your choice
 *1 cup water (about)

Olive 'n' Tea Tree
 *1/4 cup olive oil
 *1/8 cup gentle baby bath
 *A few drops tea tree oil
 *4 cups water

Soapless
 *1-2 drops tea tree oil
 *1-2 drops lavender oil
 *1 cup water
**Use caution with this recipe as we've been told some children may develop a rash since the essential oils aren't dissolved in a carrier oil.

Witch Hazel Solution
 *1 cup witch hazel
 *1/2 cup aloe vera juice
 *1 tablespoon olive oil
 *1 teaspoon white vinegar
 
Zany Apricot Solution
 *1 tablespoon apricot oil
 *1 tablespoon unscented baby wash
 *3 cups water

Zany Lavender Solution
 *1 tablespoon baby oil
 *1 tablespoon lavender scented baby wash
 *2-3 drops lavender oil
 *3 cups water

 More Notes!
    If you're trying to go natural or chemical free, you will want to make sure that you are NOT using the regular Baby Soaps, Shampoos, Body Oils or Washes. Many of these contain Mineral Oil, which is a Bi-Product of Petroleum. Look for Natural or Organic baby options on Amazon, Natural Parenting Shops or Whole Foods Companies. 

     Dr. Bronner's Soap can be found on and off line through natural product shops, Amazon or Whole Foods...

Pagan Blog Project: Germs

Early on in my education I read an analogy that has stuck with me all these years later. It was talking about "spiritual germs" and how they are just as damaging to us as physical ones are. It's something that many of use tend to overlook, but it's something that is in fact extremely important for us to focus on.

Now, for the most part we all understand the dangers of germs on our hands and throughout our homes (although there are benefits as well - but that's a different subject) and we all understand the importance of and how to keep our homes and bodies as germ free as possible. Unfortunately, we ted to forget about the importance keeping our home and bodies just as free of spiritual germs.

First it's important to understand what "spiritual germs" are...  Of course there are no actual, germs made of spirit, nothing you can slide under a microscope and nothing you can simply wash off your hands before you eat. But, there is just as much danger in forgetting to clean away spiritual germs as there is to the physical ones.

So what are "Spiritual Germs"?  Well, just like physical ones are tiny "pieces" of bacterial or illness that can affect your physical health, spiritual ones are tiny "pieces" of negative energy that can affect your spiritual - and even mental and physical - health. These pieces of energy can be left over from our day to day lives, magickal workings and even the energies of fae or other "beings" who may encroach upon our personal space.

Just like it's important to clean your home and self from physical germs, it's highly important to clean your home and self from spiritual germs as well. But ti's also important to maintain that cleanliness to the best of your ability as well. To be honest, it's no harder to be spiritually germ free than it is to be physically germ free. Because spiritual germs can come from numerous places it's important to remember that maintenance cleaning can not be skipped.

Negative thoughts & emotions created by you, your family and even non-family visitors, can leave behind germs in your home that can affect you long term. Unfortunately, if they aren't cleaned out, they will compile over time and begin to affect your emotions and even your mental state - which in turn affects your spiritual state.  So, the first step to being germ free is to do your best to limit negativity in your home. Work on how you think, and learn to speak in a positive manor, even when you don't feel like your in a positive place. I know that isn't always the easiest of steps, positive thinking tends to be something that people today overlook. From the time we are small we are taught to think negatively - "No, you can't have that." or "I don't want that." - when in reality we should be making a point to think positively. - "You can have this one instead." or "This option is best." It's a simple change in wording, but it's a HUGE change in attitude and energy output. Remember, negative thoughts create negative energy and negative energy attracts negative energy. So just by thinking in negative terms, you're not only creating negative energy that will affect you now, you're attracting negative energy that will affect you in the future.

Beyond changing how you think and speak, it's important to remember to focus on the positive aspect of life as a whole. When your bills come in, it's easy to think "UGH, More Bills!" but without those bills, you wouldn't have heat or running water! So rather than focusing on how the money has to go out, why not make a point to focus on the positive aspects of your life that those bills allow you to have - I don't know about you, but a hot shower is heaven to me!

Second, it's important to go beyond attempting to prevent germs from accumulating and start clearing them out. We all think of cleaning our homes as an important part of our physical health, but we tend to forget about cleaning them on a spiritual level. Most people rely on White Sage for spiritual cleaning, and although there are other options, sage is by far my favorite option as well.

Two main options exist, and I feel they work best when used together:
  • Burning Sage throughout your space is the "deep cleaning" method. Native Americans tend to use burning white sage in a large shell fanned with a large eagle feather as a way to include all the elements in to the process. You simply want to ensure that the smoke from smoldering sage reaches all parts of your home - this takes some time, but it's worth it - make sure to include corners and doorways!
  • Powdered Sage or Sage Essential Oils can be added to blessed water and then sprayed throughout your home as needed. It can also be added to the laundry when it's time to wash your ritual clothing (or any clothing) to remove any remaining energy. 
Now, for my taste, burning sage through my house every time I clean is just to much work... But, I do keep a spritzer bottle of sage water around for when I am in need of a quick option. Usually, after a physically clean a room, I go through quickly with a spritz or two... Then, I do deeper cleanings throughout the year - usually right around the Sabbats (it's an easy way to remember).

In addition to keeping up with cleansing your home, you really need to remember to keep up with yourself as well. There are quite a few methods for this, I'm only going to cover them briefly here, but you can obviously do some quick research and find the ones that work for you...
  •  Cleansing Meditation is just what it sounds like. It's a deep meditation where you focus on cleaning your energy. Chakra Cleansing Meditations are done by focusing on each chakra individually and visualizing it glowing bright while pushing all negative energy out and absorbing positivity.
  • Self Smudging is done much in the same way as smudging your home is, you simply do it to yourself. 
  • Cleansing Baths are a very relaxing way to clear both your physical and spiritual germs. There are many ways to do cleansing baths, many use these before ritual or spell work as a way to cleanse away any energy which could affect their workings poorly.  Again, there are lots of ways to go about doing these -  herbal satchels, essential oils, candles, incense and/or bath salts/bombs can all be beneficial for this purpose. 
It's also important to remember to completely release your circle and any energy raised during spell work and rituals. Grounding yourself and insuring that all energy is expelled is extremely important not only because you want that energy to work for you rather than simply hang around, but because when energy is simply left to hang, it can easily "sour" and become an attractant for negative energy.

For most of us, cleaning away physical germs is simply a part of life... And we need to remember how important spiritual cleaning is as well... Germs are germs, and they need to be treated as such, regardless of their makeup! 

The Natural Life: Reasons To Cloth Diaper

   At one time, everyone used Cloth Diapers, there were no other options. In the 1950's the first disposables were introduced, but were "luxury" items. However, the idea of disposables became much more popular as the price lowered and parents looked for "better" ways of doing things. As a result cloth diapering became something that not everyone did. Eventually it became thought of as more work for less benefit.

   When I had my oldest child I didn't see the value or the health benefits to cloth. I didn't believe I would EVER spend $500 in disposables and figured it would be spend over time so it would hurt less. And of course I believed they were going to be SOO much more work and "gross." Oh, how naive I was! Chances are, at least at one point, you yourself could have (or still can) list a ton of reasons why Cloth simply isn't for you. Hopefully though, you are at least willing to get all the facts before you decide to make a permanent choice.

    Cloth diapers have come a long way from rubber pants and diaper pins. Today, there are so many styles and choices I could start listing now and not finish for a week! Of course the old options are still available, but there are many many others as well! From simple all-in-ones (AIOs) to prefolds with wraps, there are tons of choices to keep your baby covered.

There are many benefits of cloth diapering. Here are some:
  • Cost Savings
    Cloth diapers do seem to cost more. There is usually an investment of between $200 and $500 depending on the style, company and accessories you decide on. BUT, that cost is NOTHING compared to the THOUSANDS you will usually spend on disposables. (I found that out the hard way!) And because you only need to buy them once, you can use them through multiple children! Even if you add up your cost of diapers, accessories (like a diaper pail), cloth wipes, washing, so on and so forth, you're looking at a per change cost of less than $0.35... And of course that lowers if you have more than one child.
  • Better for Baby
    Because Cloth diapers contain less chemicals babies tend to have less diaper issues, like diaper rash, UTI's and allergic reactions. IF you have a child with extremely sensitive skin there are even options such as organic materials and chemical free diaper washes which you can use as well.
  • Better for the Environment
    Well, it's rather easy to figure out that cloth diapers which don't end up in a dump, are going to be MUCH better for our world than disposable after disposable after disposable after disposable...  Disposables take HUNDREDS of years to break down and since they harbor chemicals which then seep down in to the soil and water as well. Cloth diapers are the best way for your family to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle when it comes to baby!
  • Less Time in Diapers
    Because disposable diapers and pull-ups keep children so dry feeling, they have actually been shown to elongate the potty training experiences. Children who wear cloth will typically spend less time trying to potty train or educate their child about elimination communication (EC).
  • Adorable!
    Okay, lets face it... Disposables are just white paper, or MAYBE have pictures or Elmo on them. But with Cloth there are literally HUNDREDS of design options from colors and patterns to pictures and even personalization...

The Natural Life: Illness Facts: Chickenpox (Varicella-zoster) Virus Information

What is chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a common illness that causes an itchy rash and red spots or blisters (pox) all over the body. It is most common in children, but most people will get chickenpox at some point in their lives. Even if they have been vaccinated.

Chickenpox usually isn't serious in healthy children. But it can cause problems for pregnant women, newborns, teens and adults, and people who have immune system problems that make it hard for the body to fight infection.

After you have had chickenpox, you are not likely to get it again. But the virus stays in your body long after you get over the illness creating a natural immunity to further infections.

What causes chickenpox, and how is it spread?
Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It can spread easily. You can get it from an infected person who sneezes, coughs, or shares food or drinks. You can also get it if you touch the fluid from a chickenpox blister.

A person who has chickenpox can spread the virus even before he or she has any symptoms. Chickenpox is most easily spread from 2 to 3 days before the rash appears until all the blisters have crusted over.

You are at risk for chickenpox if you have never had the illness.  If someone you live with gets chickenpox, your risk is even higher because of the close contact. Even if you have had the vaccine, you should treat chickenpox with caution as the vaccine does not protect 100% and weakens over time.

What are the symptoms?
The first symptoms of chickenpox often are a fever, a headache, and a sore throat. You or your child may feel sick, tired, and not very hungry. The chickenpox rash usually appears about 1 or 2 days after the first symptoms start. Some children get the chickenpox rash without having a fever or other early symptoms.

It usually takes 14 to 16 days to get the symptoms of chickenpox after you have been around someone with the virus. This is called the incubation period.

After a chickenpox red spot appears, it usually takes about 1 or 2 days for the spot to go through all its stages. This includes blistering, bursting, drying, and crusting over. New red spots will appear every day for up to 5 to 7 days.

You or your child can go back to work, school, or day care when all blisters have crusted over. This is usually about 10 days after the first symptoms start.

Other illnesses can have symptoms like those of chickenpox. For this reason, you may think you have had chickenpox twice when instead you have had two different infections.

How is chickenpox diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and will examine you. This usually gives your doctor enough information to make a proper diagnosis.

Healthy children with chickenpox symptoms may not need to visit a doctor. You may be able to describe your child’s symptoms to the doctor over the phone. Then your child won't have to leave the house and risk spreading the virus to others. But it is important to check with your doctor to find out if he or she wants to see your child.

Teenagers, adults, pregnant women, and people with health problems need to see a doctor for chickenpox. This is especially important for pregnant women, since chickenpox during early pregnancy can cause birth defects. Call first to make an appointment and to discuss whether you need to take any steps to avoid spreading the virus when you arrive.

Natural Living - Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen

Buying organic can be very expensive! So for most of us purchasing everything we eat organically is just not financially possible. So it's important to know which items you REALLY need to purchase organically and which items you can "slide" on.

Now, it's important to remember that if you aren't buying organic every time, you are still going to get some chemicals in your food. Pesticides and fertilizers do, minimally, enter in to all plants they are used on. However, some plants are simply not sprayed as much as others and those with thick or removable skins will contain MUCH less chemicals than those where you are going to consume the skins.

A few good basic rules for buying are -

If you eat the skin, buy organic! No matter how much you wash it, you won't wash off all the chemicals! 

It's also very important to wash those foods where you are going to be removing the skins! As you cut in to produce, the chemicals and dirt from the skins are introduced to the inner layers, so make sure to wash even thick skinned fruits and veggies very well before cutting!

If it's imported, organic is a safer option. Many countries where food is imported from does not have the same regulations as we do on chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides. So even though NONE of these things are healthy, the ones used in other countries may actually be MORE harmful than those used here.

The Dirty Dozen
These are fruits and veggies you need to make sure you are ALWAYS buying organically! They are heavily sprayed and thin or no skinned, so you are actually going to be eating the chemicals first hand!
  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines
  7. Grapes
  8. Bell Peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/Collard Greens

The Clean Fifteen
Now, for the good news. Not ALL items in the produce section are dangerous. Although, as I said before, it's always best to buy organic, these options are not generally as heavily sprayed, or have removable outer skins.
  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocodo
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Mangos
  8. Egg Plant
  9. Cantaloupe
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet Potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms
 

Coming Out Of The Broom Closet

For some Pagans or Witches, the idea of telling friends, family, co-workers or others around them what or who they are seems terrifying. As a Pagan, a Witch and a member of the LGBT community, I would say most Pagans face about the same level of fear when coming out as member of the LGBT community usually do. You may face discrimination, anger, fear, and even violence on occasion. You may risk loosing your friends, and even your job. And worse is when overly fearful family members choose to remove your from their lives. Unfortunately, it all happens. I've even heard stories where neighbors came to violence after discovering there was a Pagan living next door.

Personally, I have never been afraid to announce my faith. But I too have faced some opposition from people close to me over it. My grandmother at one point refused to allow me in her house. My mother constantly makes nasty remarks about my faith... And my own husband won't talk about faith for the most part because he's not completely comfortable with it - of course he really isn't comfortable with his own faith either... So while I was never really "in the closet" I do understand the fear surrounding coming out of it.

And honestly, I'm not going to tell you it's always the best idea. Sometimes screaming your faith from the roof may sound like a good idea, but the issues it causes simply aren't worth the trouble. So I am going to encourage your to thoroughly think through your choice to come out before you proceed in doing so.  While telling your Bible thumping boss that you couldn't give a rats ass about church because your Goddess doesn't require you to go, if it's going to cost you a job that you need to feed your kids, is it really worth it?

I suggest you consider these points BEFORE you decide to explore the possibility of "coming out."
  • WHY do you want to come out? Is it because you have an honest to goodness pride in your faith or because you want to shock your family or cause drama with your friends?
  • How will the people in your family, circle of friends or at your job react? Will they be accepting or ban you from their home? Are they strict in their faith or more lax? 
  • Are you facing a situation where they will find out without your telling them? 
Regardless of your why, and even how you believe they may react, you need to be positive that the benefits of your coming out outweigh the risks. Because there is simply no going back once you make that announcement!

Now, by no means am I suggesting that you should stay where you are, lie about who and what you are and keep your true beliefs and feelings about things to yourself. Instead I'm asking you to simply ensure that, before you take this step, you make sure it's the right one for YOU. If you're not at the right point in your life or if this isn't the right time for you, you always have the option to come out later.

So, lets talk about HOW to come out...

First, lets consider coming out to family. For many people the idea of hiding who they are from their family is quite painful. Many people consider their family to be the most important people in their lives and do their best to have strong healthy relationships. Because of this it's sometimes difficult to keep the truth about who you are to yourself, even if you know the truth may cause some drama.

Especially if you have a family with strong religious convictions it's important to approach this subject delicately. Stomping in and saying "I'm Pagan and you better learn to deal" isn't usually the best option! Consider who you want to tell first. Generally I find it best if you "divide and conquer" on this issue. If you have a sibling, cousin or other family member who you are extra close with or who is more "open minded" than others, it's usually best to talk to them first. They can help give you support, encouragement and guidance when it comes to how best to approach the issue with your other family members.

While I can't tell you exactly what you should say to family, it's usually best to get them in a pleasant situation first. Blurting out in the middle of an argument that "Oh yeah, by the way, I'm a witch!" has never made coming out easy for ANYONE!

It's best to let family members know you want to talk to them about something important and have them sit down. I've also found that food helps for just about any important "talk" like this! Sit them down and tell them that you have something to tell them and you would like a chance to express everything you have to say prior to them reacting. While that does tend to put people on edge it also tends to allow you to get the entire thought out before someone jumps in with "My Daughter Is NOT A Witch! I won't have it!!!"

I do suggest you plan what you want to say! You may even want to write down some notes or even your entire announcement. Make sure to go beyond "I'm Pagan." You'll want to explain some basics. What does it MEAN that you're a Pagan? For the most part, the only thing people know about Paganism is what they see in movies or hear about at church, which will give them a deserved cause for worry. I mean, think about where they are coming from - if all you hear is Pagans are devil worshipers who sacrifice children and pets and attend orgies in the woods while high on X, would you really want your family member being one?  I wouldn't. So you need to express what it means to you and what it will mean to and for them.

It's also important to at least decide, even if you don't include it in your explanation to them, how you feel about some basic factors... For example, do you believe in Jesus, how do you view God, what do you believe happens after death, how do you view spell work, divination and magick, if you have children do you plan to or do you involve them... And so on... Do your research on your families faith, if you don't already know it well, and know what the common teachings on such things as how they view other faiths, death, birth, and so on BEFORE you decide how to answer their questions about them.

Words like Witch, Pagan, Wicca, Druid and the like are usually very misunderstood and become "hot button" words in conversations like this. So it's sometimes best to keep them to a minimum. Now, I DO think it's important to use them, but don't over do it. Be conservative about how you use and how many times you use these terms to avoid some of the shock factor.

You'll need to understand that this news may come as a shock for them and they will need to both vent their feelings and question your choice. EXPECT IT! And do your best to respect their feelings and understand that this can be both a scary situation and quite overwhelming for them. Do your best to answer their questions kindly and calmly!

If things get heated, I greatly suggest calling a "truce" for a day or two and coming together later after everyone has a chance to calm down.

When it comes to friends, the process is in most ways very much the same. However, friends tend to be slightly more accepting to things like this than family are. Family tends to have very specific expectations of who they want you to be because they believe it is their job to shape you as a person. While friends tend to love you for who you are rather than who they think you are or who they believe you are. BUT, that said, like the old saying says "Blood is thicker than water." Meaning while family will always be family, friends can start ignoring your calls within hours of shocking news.

Coming out to friends don't actually have to be quite a serious as the "family coming out" is. You may chose to simply stop hiding it and let them come to you with questions. Or, you may choose to do a "coming out lunchin" where you can talk to them all together. Really, it depends on you and your friends. Regardless of how you choose to do it, I greatly suggest you prepare in much the same way you did with your family. Try and focus on how you feel about the big ticket issues and keep their feelings in mind when you answer their questions.

When it comes to work, personally I don't see "coming out" as a big deal. Unless you work for a religious business or organization I feel it's best to simply stop hiding your faith - if you choose - and answer questions if and when they come. For the most part, people prefer not to discuss religion at work, so it's generally not an issue unless you want someone to cover for your shifts while you go to Esbat Rituals or something...

All that said, it IS beneficial to KNOW YOUR RIGHTS before you decide to take ANY steps towards coming out at work. If you are in the US, it's generally illegal to fire someone based solely on their faith. BUT, depending on your state, your employer may not need a reason to fire you. So if you have an overly Christian boss, you will want to know what you can and can't do before you decide to wear a pentacle to the office. It's also worth it to think through how can opposing co-workers make your life at work miserable simply because of their feelings. So take all things in to consideration prior to deciding to make any changes that could affect your job. INCLUDING what would happen if you did loose your job because of this issue. **As I said this is usually not legal, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen, especially if you work for a private company.

In the end it comes down to just ONE thing - How YOU feel about coming out. If YOU don't feel your 100% ready, and YOU don't feel comfortable telling your family, friends or co-workers, DON'T! If on the other hand you can honestly say "I am 100% ready and sound in my faith and want to include my friends and family in this aspect of my life" then go for it... And remember, you don't have to tell everyone you know in 48 hours. You don't even have to tell everyone you know. If you have friends that you simply don't feel will take the news well and you prefer not to tell them, you don't have to.

This is about YOU, as much as it is about them, really more. So make sure that YOU are ready, sound in your beliefs and ready before you jump in...

Charity, a part of life and a factor of faith...

If you're a long time reader of my blog you've seen my posts about "living your faith." I am one of those people who believes that actions speak louder than words, and every day actions speak louder about who you are than the "holiday" actions do. For me, my faith is a part of who I am, it's not something that shows it's head on Sabbats and Esbats and then forgets all about it on the day to day.

For me, a major part of practicing my faith is working to create positive change. Of course my first goal is to create positive changes in myself, but I don't stop there. I aim to create a better world for my children and grandchildren, for the poor, the hungry, the sick... For everyone! Today and tomorrow!

Obviously, I am not super woman. And unfortunately I don't have the option to twitch my nose and end hunger, illness or war. But I do have the ability to give every chance I have. Charity, for me, is very much a matter of faith. I am a firm believer in equality, nature and creating a more positive life, a more positive world.

I'm not rich, in fact income wise, I'm not even considered "middle class." But in no way does that mean I can't be charitable. Charity is defined as "generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless." So from where I sit, you don't have to be monetarily rich to be charitable. Instead you simply have to be able to act in a generous way which aims to help those in need.

With that in mind, I wanted to talk about some ways that ANYONE can give charitably of themselves.

    The most obvious and easiest way to be charitable is to donate to a cause for one thing or another.  (See my list of "favorite charities" below)

    Donating clothing, shoes, toys and other every day goods to shelters, or other "in need" groups like Good Will or Red Cross.

    Donate Blood! One donation can save 3 lives!

    Be an organ or body donor! I know it's not something most people want to think about, but
eventually, we all gotta go, so why not make sure you do some good on your way out. If you aren't picky about where your body goes, just become an every day donor... If you prefer your body goes for education or forensic study you'll want to do some research and make arraignments early.

    Donate your time! Libraries, soup kitchens, park services, homeless shelters, medical clinics and hospitals are ALWAYS looking for volunteers. You can even join with groups like Habitat for Humanity to help provide housing for low income or in need families. Even things like cleaning up local beaches, parks or camping grounds is beneficial for those who live around them - or for those who have to sleep there...

    Grow a garden, and share the extras! Fresh fruits and veggies are very pricy and for a great many families they are simply out of the budget... Sharing your extra tomatoes, cucumbers, apples or other home growns helps provide families who normally can't provide good, healthy foods for their families feed them well.

    Work with friends to start a drive. Drives get the whole community involved by encouraging everyone within a town, district or other area to give together, which allows for much more to be given in the end.

    Start a "children exchange" in your area. Our area does these from time to time. It's like a multi family garage sale where everyone can get rid of their kids stuff. But everything has a "flat rate" rather than having each family come up with their own prices. And usually the last day they do a "fill a bag for $5" event where you can really save big! Things like this allow families who can't afford clothing, toys or other children's items to buy what they need - or sometimes just want - without breaking the bank.

    Start a blog or website! Believe it or not something as simple as an awareness raising website can make a huge difference. If you have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING else to give, you can still help raise awareness on an issue, illness or group... Blog about an illness, abuses, the homeless, or even about inspirational people who are making a difference and encourage others to do the same. Sometimes the best thing we can do is just get people motivated!

There are so many ways you can get involved, don't limit yourself by the steps others have taken. If you see a need out there, jump in and take action. When we act to change the world for the better we improve everyone's lives.

While many may not see this as something that charity as a matter of faith, remember that the Goddess Empanada rules over all charitable actions as well as hospitality and asylum. From where I stand she's a Goddess we could all get to know a bit better!

*******

Now, as promised here is a list of my FAVORITE Charities!

National Vaccine Information Center - As a victim of Vaccine injury, I am a rather vocal proponent of vaccines and other unnecessary medications. However, I am a firm believer that medical choices should be made only after educating one's self on the issues surrounding them - Vaccines are no different! NVIC is dedicated to providing people with a rounded education about vaccines, vaccine laws and both pros and cons of deciding to or not to vaccinate yourself or your family.


Somaly Mam Foundation - Founded by sexual slavery survivor, Somaly Mam, the foundation supports rescue, shelter and rehabilitation programs across South East Asia, where the trafficking of women and girls, some as young as five, is a widespread practice. The Somaly Mam Foundation also runs global awareness and advocacy campaigns that shed light on the crime of sexual slavery and focus on getting the public and governments involved in the fight to abolish modern day slavery.

The Somaly Mam Foundation has taken on this challenge. Founded in 2007 by trafficking survivor, Somaly Mam, the Foundation is dedicated to ending sex slavery around the world with a results-oriented, three-step approach: Action, Advocacy & Awareness.

Dollar4Life - Dollar4Life is a grass-roots campaign to raise awareness and one million dollars for researching ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. Donations go to Prize4Life, a results-oriented 501(c)(3) organization founded to accelerate ALS research by offering substantial prizes to scientists who solve the most critical challenges in developing a cure.

Free Rice - Play a simple game, expand your brain...  And feed a child! For each correct answer you get on this multi-choice trivia style game The World Food Program is donated 10 grains of rice...  According to the United Nations, about 25,000 people die each day from hunger or hunger-related causes, most of them children. Though 10 grains of rice may seem like a small amount, it is important to remember that while you are playing, so are thousands of other people at the same time. It is everyone together that makes the difference. Thanks to you, FreeRice has generated enough rice to feed millions of people since it started in October 2007.


Child's Play - Since 2003, over 100,000 gamers worldwide have banded together through Child’s Play, a community based charity grown and nurtured from the game culture and industry. Over 3.5 million dollars in donations of toys, games, books and cash for sick kids in children’s hospitals across North America and the world have been collected since our inception.


Children Of The Night - Make a difference in the lives of hundreds of children each year. Children of the Night's commitment to rescuing these children from the ravages of prostitution is shared with a small but committed group of detectives, FBI agents, and prosecutors in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Ana, Anaheim, San Diego, other areas of California, Las Vegas, Portland, Billings, Montana; Seattle, Washington; Miami, New York, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Phoenix, Hawaii and Washington D.C. — all stops on the child prostitution circuit. And our numbers keep growing as more and more dedicated individuals become concerned about the welfare of these desperate children.

Heifer International - Heifer Intl. was founded on a simple idea! Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. TEACH a man to fish and feed him for life. This principal has been of great use for these wonderful giving people! Rather than putting your donations towards simply sending food, Heifer Intl. has mad a point to TEACH! Their foundation not only helps to provide animals for third world and hungry nations but they actually take the time and effort to teach these people how to farm, how to grow and how to create their own new food source...What a blessing to know that your small donations are literally able to create change - not just for one person or for one meal, but for an entire village forever!

Planned Parenthood -  While many rumors fly around where PP is conserned, the truth is this - Planned Parenthood provides numerous health services to and for men, women and children who can not afford traditional medical care. These services include, but are far from limited to: Cancer Screenings, Basic Health Services, Sex Education as well as OB/GYN services and on occasion, abortion services. Because Planned Parenthood provides services for low or no income clients, they rely on the donations and support of the general public to enable them to continue to provide the services they do. Your donation not only pays for doctor fees, but also for preventative medications and treatments for illnesses, as well as ongoing care for all types of ailments and family planning services.

If you know of others, please feel free to share them in the Comments area! I would love to check them out!

Boys... On a Goddess Path?!?

I belong to a couple of Pagan Parenting groups on numerous Social Networks. And I'm always a little surprised when I come across parents who aren't sure how to incorporate their sons in to their practice.  Recently this question was posted in one of my groups:  "Paganism is such a woman's religion, so how do I incorporate by boys?"  And I have read many similar questions over the years.

To me, these questions tend to answer themselves... If you view Paganism as something which is about women, it's going to be hard to include your sons, husbands or other men. But to me, Paganism is not all about women. Many Pagan paths do focus on the feminine and the Goddess/Goddesses. But the male aspect and the God are just as important. Nature is about Balance, and you can't have one without the other...  If we lack the feminine we lack life... If we lack the masculine we lack life... Personally I can see how many would see a lack of masculine focus in many a modern day Pagan path, but there is simply no need for that.

In my practice the male is as important as the female and neither aspect is more sacred that the other. However, even I, have a stronger connection to the Goddess aspects than I do to the God, simply because I am female. I can not, for instance, connect to the Father aspect of the God, the way I can to the Mother aspect of the Goddess, because I am not a Father...  But for the most part my practice and overall beliefs, have equal placement for both male and female.

Because of this, I see no issue including my sons when it comes to things like Sabbat celebrations. While I don't include them in ritual or anything that's overly religious (because of our interfaith home) I do include them in story and craft times which celebrate different mythologies and each area of the nature cycle.

Simple ways to include children - regardless of gender - include stories, basic crafts, nature walks, dance and songs, music (drums, rain sticks, bells and rattles are all great), rhymes or chants, dream journalism, basic herbalism, art, basic geology, gardening, cooking, learning about different Gods, Goddesses, Spirits and/or Fae... And numerous other things... For us, I like to focus on teaching my children to live Green and Clean and to celebrate the seasonal cycle.

Paganism doesn't HAVE to focus on either gender... And because each child is going to connect differently it's sometimes best to simply focus on neutrality and allow them to find their own connections to the divine. It's not so important that they have a direct connection to the Great Goddess at 4 years old. It's more important that they learn to honor the gifts she gives them. At 4 or 5 or even 10 it is difficult for them to even completely understand the concept of a God or Goddess. Hell, I know people who have issues understanding the concept of a God or Goddess at 20 or 40 years old... But learning to live in harmony with the world around them and honoring the gifts they have - food & water, sunlight, the moon cycles, animals, plants, rain, and so on - than it is for them to connect to an abstract idea of a God or Goddess.

If you do feel the need to impress God or Goddess on your child. Then you may want to brush up on the mythology surrounding the God(s) in addition to that of the Goddess(s).  And make a point to put time aside to celebrate the God aspect in addition to the Goddess.

In my own practice I do a daily devotional to the Great God first thing in the morning, and to the Great Goddess before bed. For me, I view the sun as male and the moon as female, so I use the balance of day and night to represent the balance of male and female in my daily practice. This, among other things, is a good way to help children remember to include both aspects in their day to day beliefs and practices...

If you choose to include your child in rituals, or host "child rituals" for them, you may want to ensure that you always include the male aspect as well as the female. If you invoke the Goddess, also invoke the God. When you talk about the age or condition of the Goddess, make a point to mention the God as well. Always include a representation of the God as well as the Goddess on a child's alter...

By making a point to include the God or Masculine aspects of your beliefs in your day to day and ritual life you will have no issue including your sons, husbands and other males in your celebrations.

Please don't take this to be my speaking out against Goddess worship in any way. As I said I, myself, have a stronger bond with the Goddess and female aspects of life than I do the male. If it were up to me, it would always be night, but again, we need to have balance, the dawn must come at some point...  And if your practice is currently Goddess centered and you feel fulfilled with it, then there is no need to change. But if you have a son or you want to include your husband, you may want to shift at least some of your focus to the Gods or male aspects simply so you can better include everyone better.

Saving Our Water - Part 2

I hope, if you are old enough to read my blog, that you already know the importance of water, so I'm going to skip over all the reasons why we can't go without it. If however, you need that information, or you don't understand the importance of water to our world and our lives, please head over to Google and do some searching and reading on the subject prior to continuing to read this.

For most of us in the "modern world" water is not something we think about. We don't have to worry about how we're going to get it today, if we're going to run out of it or if our supply is clean. We simply walk in to the kitchen, turn on the sink and stick our glass under it... But, we are the lucky ones, and unfortunately, we're the minority.

Both world wide, as well as right here in our own country, water has been, and continues to be, something that is in fact a prized substance. When I say "lack of water" most people flash to a third world area where running water simply doesn't exist. Unfortunately though, a lack of water, or a lack of clean water is NOT limited to areas of "third world" or even developing countries. Instead, it's becoming a growing problem even in the US and other very modern countries as well.

If the issue was simply a lack of water, the answer would simply be - truck it in or even pipe it in... Unfortunately THAT seems to be the biggest issue of all. Like oil in the past, water privatization is becoming a growing plight on people all around the world.

In recent years the biggest offense in the US has been Detroit, who's water company has become notorious for over charging, prematurely closing and even falsely charging customer accounts. One woman I saw interviewed had her water turned off because she was $800 behind on her bill, even though she had been making payments. Now, the first thought you're having is "If you own $800, of course they will shut you off." And you're not completely wrong. BUT, the issue was not that she was shut off, but that in the process of trying to have her account turned back on - a TWO YEAR process - her bill had ballooned to over $8000, even though it was turned off.

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't think my water bills over the last 10 years would equal $8000. So the idea of acquiring $8000 in charges when you don't even have access to water is completely mind blowing to me. What's more is the fact that this type of over charging is completely legal! How can that be? Well, it's fairly simple. Private companies have the right to charge just about whatever they choose for goods. In this case, that "good" is water. They have the right to charge customers whatever they feel is a proper price, and they also have the right to add additional fees - such as overage fees, late fees, shut off fees, and whatever else - to open accounts, and as long as there is money owed on an account, they have the right to refuse to close it - which would prevent it from acquiring new fees...

If we leave the US we start to see more and more stories about how the privatization of water is literally a deadly idea. Each and every day nearly 4000 children world wide die simply for a lack of access to clean water. And for the most part, those deaths are NOT because these children live in areas where clean water is hard to access. Instead it's because the individuals who live in these areas do not have an income which allows them to access "luxuries" like clean water...

Water companies throughout Spain, Tanzania, Bolivia, India and numerous other areas have made a habit of charging poor families amounts which often equal months or even years worth of income simply to have the ability to tap in to the water pipes and/or sewage pipes which often flow within feet of their homes.

Unfortunately, unlike oil, water is not something we can live without. You can't simply start walking or change to an electric alternative, the way you can with oil. Water is something that we all need. Because of that, it's rather difficult to "rebel" against the companies which seem to think that water is a commodity to be bottled, piped, and sold for profit.

BUT, you can in fact you can limit your water use, and do your best to stop your own family from over using or wasting the water that you have. You can also, if you were so inclined to, make donations to those non-profit groups who are dedicated to helping these families. AND you also have the right to take action by taking concerns to your government officials, and to the water companies themselves. Stop buying bottled water, and even, if you are lucky enough to live in an area where it's available, start drinking natural spring water...  All of these actions can, at least in a small way, make a difference in the big picture!

Being Bewitched

I grew up watching Bewitched, like so many others did. I remember thinking Darren was such a dick for treating his wife that way. Just from talking to others through the years about the show I know I'm not the only one that felt that way. But we do need to remember that it was a different time when that show was aired. A time when women weren't equal and witchcraft was even less acceptable than it is today. Still, I struggle with the idea that Darren tried so hard to force Samantha to be someone she wasn't.

But the truth is, for as much as I don't understand it, I went and started playing the role of suppressed witch anyways... I have an incredibly wonderful husband. He's kind and gentle, giving and hard working. He loves his kids and I more than he loves himself, and he would work non-stop if it meant we could have the things we want. And although he doesn't agree with many of the things I stand for, he usually backs me up, at least in public - although he may have a few things to say in private from time to time...  AND, for as wonderful as he is, he's afraid of witches, magick and even his own gifts...

Yes, that's right, I married a Christian muggle who would dance for joy if I somehow forgot my path... Unlike Darren he doesn't in any way try to force me to change who I am, and he did know who and what I was long before we got married - I didn't spring it on him like Samantha did. But he's no less uncomfortable knowing that his wife is dancing naked in the moonlight than Darren was when he discovered his mother-in-law had swished her hand and alters life as he knows it - AGAIN!

So, needless to say, it keeps things interesting. And it takes some bending, on both parts. My husband does his best to keep his mouth shut and I do my best to keep it out of his line of site. If you're living with a muggle like I am, one who is less than accepting, you know what I'm talking about. For those who are living with someone who is more Darren like, then here are MY suggestions on co-existing...
  • Be open and honest with your partner. Don't think that hiding things, or keeping secrets is going to make issues disappear, if anything, it will only make things worse. 
  • Don't try and force your beliefs on your partner. Their beliefs may counter yours but they are still entitled to their beliefs. It's important to remember that many people fear witches and Pagans because they don't understand us, and that changing those beliefs can take time.
  • Agree to boundaries. If your partner is of a different faith, the idea of having an alter in every room or of having a drum circle in your living room every full moon may be more than they can handle. But, they may be more willing to agreeing to watch the children while you meet with your coven. 
  • Do your best to keep your home a neutral ground. No huge pentacles on the wall, and no chanting over dinner... 
  • Take time! My husband and I have been married for 6 years, and in that time we have come to respect one another's beliefs and even find common grounds on many occasions. But it's taken time for us to get this far. And it's taken love... 
  • Above all else, remember that you are more than a witch, and more than a Pagan. And that your partner loves you for all the other parts, they will learn to love the witch part, as long as you keep reminding them why they fell in love with the rest of you in the first place!
Bewitched Forever!
Blessed Be!

Saving our Water - Part 1 - Calling for a Boycott...

Generally I don't believe in boycotting companies. For the most part this is because when we boycott a company we are hurting the little guy more than we are the company. However, in cases where a companies actions are hurting even tiny are peoples, I think it becomes imperative that we use our dollar to vote against the harmful actions of companies.

In this case, I'm calling for a boycott of Coca Cola. A company who chooses to use their money to completely decimate the remaining ground water in India. Over the last decade, India's water tables have dropped between 10 and 15 FEET PER YEAR! Farmers and Villagers who depend on wells and other naturally occurring water ways for their families and lands, are now being forced to go without.

The water sources in these areas of the world are from the trickle down of snow capped mountains that has occurred over millions of years. Now, this precious element of life is being sucked up and trucked out. Coca Cola uses 3 liters of water for every 1 liter they bottle. And shipping what they do bottle out of the area in to other countries and other areas around India where land owners can afford to purchase it.

In a country where less than one third of the inhabitants earn enough to have luxuries like electricity and windows, depleting natural water ways is in fact killing people.

Now, Coca Cola has a few arguments that they feel are valid. So, lets see what those are...

First, they claim that the drought in the areas surrounding their plants is because of a lack of rain, and not because they are using to much. To this I say, if Coca Cola wasn't sucking up the water that is there, the rain fall that they get (which has NOT been exceedingly low) would be sufficient.

Second the argue that they use a much lower amount of water that farmers do to water their crops. Which I'm sorry, is the most ridiculous argument I have ever heard! If you passed 3rd grade science you understand that when you water plants, excess water trickles back down in to the local water system, feeding the rivers, wells, and streams. And when you pump it up, stick it in bottles and ship it out of the area however, the water does NOT recycle itself back in to the system, it's just gone.

Third, Coca Cola claims that the people who live in these areas are "happy to see the economic upswing" to their areas. Unfortunately this is FAR from the truth. While those few who work for the company obviously enjoy a few perks, the majority of those in the area don't share this joy. In fact, numerous Coca Cola Plants in these areas have been forced to close after violent riots killed workers.

To make things worse, Coca Cola is not stopping with India. In fact familiar stories are now coming out of China and Mexico.

Do they have other options? Of course they do! Although these options are more expensive for Coca Cola to set up, over time they would NOT be of a much greater expense and they would provide the company with a much higher volume of water to use. One of these options would be to stop using fresh water and use purified salt water. Plants set up alone ocean shores would allow them to pull ocean water, purify it, and produce their products. Is this an ideal option? No, but frankly, I don't believe there is an ideal option for both sides of the issue. The ideal option would be for people to stop drinking soda and bottled water, but I don't see this happening. And that's certainly not an option which would benefit Coca Cola... 

What can be done? How can YOU help change this situation? Well, there are two very simply actions you can take.

First, stop spending money on Coca Cola products. Companies like Coca Cola and others depend on profit, and without sales, they can't profit - again, refer to your 3rd grade education for that lesson. Take away that profit, and you take away the companies power.

Second, let Coca Cola know WHY you are taking this action! It's important for consumers who choose to boycott, this or other companies, to inform the company as to WHY they are taking action against them. Why? Because when companies see a loss of profit without knowing why, they are less likely to stop the actions which led people away in the first place.

You can contact Coca Cola by mail or phone:
The Coca-Cola Company
P.O. Box 1734
Atlanta, GA 30301, USA
1.800.GET COKE (800.438.2653)
Please let them know that the lives of people are more important that profit!

What I Learned From Charmed...

The week of Christmas I discovered the entire series of Charmed on Netflix for "Watch Now." Now, mind you, I own the series in it's entirety, but for some reason the Watch Now version is just easier to watch than the DVDs (go figure!)... Anyways, I started watching it from the beginning and I'm just now finishing up the last season. And I have to say I am just as sad for my marathon to come to an end as I was when the actual show went off the air. It's rare that there is a show that affects me - or hooks me - the way Charmed did, and has again. Plus, it's great to have some Witch Friendly entertainment for a change!

So as my marathon ends I'm thinking over all the "great times" I had watching them save the world over and over again. And, I'll admit, dreaming I had their powers... Now, before someone jumps on the "seriously, it's fiction" bandwagon I know it's not real, I know it's not possible... And I know there are quite a few points in the show that have put a great many Wiccans and Pagans off... Frankly, I don't care!

I love the show and would LOVE to have Prue's Telekinetic power, Piper's Freezing power, Phoebe's Premonition & Empathy, and of course Paige's Orbs - not to mention her waist line!  I mean, how awesome would it be to just be able to open a giant family BOS and read a few lines of poetry and BOOM you look different, you're in a different place or time or talking with your long passed and very missed family member? Don't lie, you wish as much as I do that it worked that way!

But, who says fiction has to be without it's lessons? I would have to say I've learned quite a bit from the show. Of course there are the lessons about making time for family and not trying to shove everything in to one day, but there are more Magickal lessons throughout as well...

So, lets explore some of what my favorite magickal sister have to teach!
  1. Misuse of Magick can have quite intense consequences! The purpose of magick is to create change in our world. Change is a good thing, but to much change can be dangerous. And more often than not, meddling in things we aren't meant to meddle in is only going to cause issues and drama, whether that meddling is done magically or mundanely.
  2. Our emotions have as much to do with our "power" as anything else does!  Nothing can throw a spell or other magickal workings out of whack the way hormones or crazy emotions. It's best to wait until we have a clear head than to go doing blessings while we're angry or depressed.
  3. Every day is a blessing! Of course the majority of us don't have demons breaking in waiting to be vanquished twice a week, but that doesn't make our life any less precious or wonderful. We need to remember every day that what we have can be gone any time, and that we're lucky to have it.
  4. Good and Evil are a Balance!  I'm pretty sure there aren't Elders, and the "Source of All Evil" sounds like a lame attempt to rename some Devil. But as I talked about in my Utopia post, Good and Bad NEED to balance one another out. Without a balance, we're all in trouble. So we should focus on learning to focus on the blessings and to take the bad times in stride, because without one, we don't get the other!
  5. Spells don't have to rhyme!   So many newbies think if it doesn't rhyme it's no good... Well, guess what, it doesn't have to! 
  6. Tempo helps keep your words on track!  Our brains remember songs over poetry every time, so if you're having trouble remembering your wording, make it a song! I sing all my rituals!
  7. It's okay to feel a bit nervous the first time your coven goes skyclad!   We live in a world where nudity, especially in front of others, is generally frowned upon. Most people are naked for all of two things - sex and showers - and since we tend to grow up with this kind of thinking it's often hard to separate from it. If you're not comfortable, then wear your clothes, or a robe, but there is no feeling like dancing naked in the moon light...
  8. When we work to help others, we work to help ourselves!  Whether it be by donating food to the homeless or doing a blessing ritual for a sick friend helping someone else creates positivity within us and within our world, and this positivity can only affect us in a positive manner!
  9. Our loved ones are going to mess up!  From time to time, everyone screws up... That's part of being human. And thankfully, unlike the sisters, our loved ones aren't going to be turning in to Demons or being dropped in the middle of the underworld, but by no means does that mean they won't ever upset us. Because they will. We, need to remember that the love we have for one another is stronger than whatever misdeed they have done, or that we think they have done, and do our best to restore peace. Until peace is restored in the relationship, it can't be within us...
  10. If you loose touch with those who love you, you loose part of yourself!  Okay, so this isn't really a magickal rule, but it's one that, as magickal beings, we need to remember more than anyone else. The less in touch we are with our inner self, our true self, the less we will have the focus needed for magickal workings!
I'm sure there are more - like don't fall in love with a ghost - but those aren't going to fit the lives of most of us! lol  So go on, watch your Charmed guilt free, because you aren't wasting time, your learning important lessons! lol

Check out what else I'm writing!