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After work tea: Moroccan Mint by Stash  (hah!  even my TEA starts with M)

Note: Please forgive randomly odd typos…about 2/3 of this was written on my smartphone with the evil autocorrect. I may not have caught all of the odd things it did to words.

Pagan Blog Project: M is not for “Muggle”*

this has been a blog post for the Pagan Blog Project

this has been a blog post for the Pagan Blog Project

There are many things in the various Pagan communities, IRL and online that I find annoying…but none is quite so annoying as the use of the word “muggle” to describe people that don’t practice magic and/or aren’t Pagan.**   If you are one of these people, you might want to skip this little rant, because I’m going to jump all over you and those of your ilk for a few paragraphs.

First off, if you actually use this word to describe yourself, you look like a smug, pretentious, and sanctimonious twit.  If you find that offensive (because you didn’t take my advice to skip past here), good.  Using a derogatory term for someone not in your in-group is offensive.  And yes, the term is derogatory–otherwise, you’d just say “non-Pagan”, or better yet, call them what they self-define as–Christian, Muslim, atheist, etc.  If you find yourself needing to turn to what is nothing short of a religious slur, it says more about you than the people you are talking about.  Its not cute, and its not trendy.  It is just as offensive and just as derogatory as calling someone a spic, a jap, or a mic.  If you use this word not having thought about it,

Secondly, if you use this word you are delusional and/or idiotic. I loved the Harry Potter books, they were creative and engaging; the world that J. K. Rowling created is simply wonderful. But we don’t live in it. I don’t care how witchy you are IRL, you are no more a witch or wizard in the Harry Potter universe than the Dursleys are. Defining your non-Pagan or non-magical peers as “muggles”, as if you are something better, is hypocritical.  In the real world, we are all just people.  Religion is a choice, witchcraft and/or magic (which ever term you prefer) is a discipline (and art and a science, if you will)…it is not something you are *born* to, it is something anyone can learn (just like ice skating), and there is nothing wrong with choosing not to.

Third, (to be quite frank and tactless) it makes you look like a nut. I’m not afraid of doing nutty things, of being eccentric or even slightly dotty.  In most cases, I’m proud of it, because the eccentric and nutty things I do are at least important, creative, and inspired.  There is nothing important, creative, or inspired about calling your mom, your cousin, your neighbor, your teacher, your doctor, your bff a religious slur.  When you do something that is both insulting and dotty you draw more and more negative attention to an already marginalized group that gets enough negative attention as it is. Some of us have to live, work, and raise our children undoing the damage users of this word (and worse, this attitude) have created.

Just say no to calling people “muggles”. Its not cute, it’s not clever, and its definitely not cool.


*HA, as I was writing this, I saw that someone beat me to it!!  I am not alone!!!

**Or other, similar terms such as cowan, mundanes, etc

More ‘M’ Musings…

Herb of the Week: Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)

Marshmallow is an herb with a long medicinal history dating back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.  It is best known for its demulcent properties, for soothing irritated and inflamed throats and upper respiratory tracts, and for use as a poultice on the skin for insect bites, boils, and abrasions.  In combination with peppermint, it makes a great tea for heartburn relief.  The tea is also kind to a sore throat, and as a mouth wash. (For more info on dosages, contraindications–its a carb-y plant and diabetics should be cautious using it, and medicine interactions, click here)

Marshmallow is a mucilaginous herb, and is best prepared in a cold infusion (which protects its mucilaginous properties) by allowing the root to infuse in room temperature water (~1:4 ratio for coarsely chunked-up root)  for at least 4 hours (overnight is better).  And, of course, the treat we know as “marshmallows” started out as a confection designed as a medicine.  While marshmallows today don’t actually contain marshmallow, there are some recipes out there for marshmallow marshmallows (like this one, which I’ve not tried…somehow, I see a project coming on!).

(illustration from Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen, 1887)

The plant itself is native to Europe (some sources say N. Africa) and naturalized in North America (thanks to those pesky colonists and all their plants they brought over).  Its original habitat includes salt marshes and estuaries, but it will grow almost anywhere moist, with full sun.  Marshmallow flowers from July through September and can grow to some 3-5 feet tall.  The flowers and young leaves are edible in salads, and the leaves and woody root are useful medicinally.

Magically, marshmallow is associated with water, the moon, Venus (the planet and the goddess), Aphrodite, and Althea.  It makes a good herb for celebrating Beltane.  It is best used to induce compassion and tolerance.  Marshmallow is good for healing, relieving stress, and bringing forth love.


Backyard Bioregionalism: Mammals

In school you may have learned all sorts of mammalian traits, but really there are only three that are truly unique to mammals. Two of these you might guess quite easily–hair and teeth (not that we have teeth–other vertebrates have teeth, but the variety of types of teeth that we have). The third though, might take a bit more time to suss out. The most common answer is probably “live birth” or “producing milk”. But not all mammals give birth to live animals, and there are a number of other animals that lay eggs internally and give birth to live young (some species of sharks, for example). And while all mammals make milk, there are a few other animals make a milk-like secretion to feed their young. Since its tricky, I’ll give you a hint…

Mammals have 3 ear bones. Seriously, along with hair and teeth, three ear bones are the  unique traits present in all mammals.

And that live birth thing? Mammals are actually divided into three groups based on how they give birth.

The first group are the monotremes. They actually lay eggs. Monotremes secrete milk from a milk patch, much like sweat is secreted through our skin. There are a handful of species of monotremes, the duck-billed platypus, and four species of echidna. The platypus and one species of echidna are native to Australia, while the other echidna species are located in New Guinea.  In my backyard, we ain’t got no monotremes!

The second group of mammals are the marsupials. Marsupials give birth to very underdeveloped young which generally live in a pouch after birth. Most marsupials are native to Australia, New Guinea, and some nearby islands, though a number of species are common to South America.   But if you live in North America, there’s only one species that is present pretty much everywhere–the Virginia opossum.  This critter is native to the Pacific coastal region of the US (and into Vancouver), and from the Eastern seaboard into the midwest, south of the Great Lakes region.

The third group of mammals are the placental animals. That would be us. Us and elephants and dolphins and mice and moose, to name a few. Placental mammals, obviously have a placenta.  The number of species around the world are too many to list here, but in my “backyard”, I’ve come across raccoons,  river otter, skunks, bats, deer, dolphins (obviously not actually in my “yard”, but they are in a local area that we frequent), and foxes (and that’s leaving out the fairly common stuff like rats, mice, squirrels, rabbits, etc).  Locally, we also have porpoises, seals, black bears, and red wolves (you have to go a bit further afield for those last two).


Monthly Forage: Mulberries!

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, mulberries.  Sweet-tart, melt in your mouth, purple-staining, mulberries.  Mulberries for pies, for cobbler, for smoothies, for jam.  And the best part is, its we are probably about halfway through mulberry season, with 6 mulberry trees along the creek behind the apartment…and even more across the street, bordering the park.  It astounds me that no one else knows what they have here!  Right now I have two gallon-sized ziplock bags in my freezer, filled to the brim with mulberries.  I’d have more, but there wouldn’t be any room for groceries (note to self: look for chest freezer on craigslist).