October on the farm is quiet, for the most part. That gives me time to socialize. For the next three months, I will spend more time with my friends, research new herbs and their uses, and travel a bit. When the Winter Solstice comes in December, I must be ready to lay my plans for the coming year.
Lately, I have been spending more time with my herbs used for alternative purposes. My life is all about education. Learning new things is what keeps me curious enough to continue living. Without the desire to explore, I don’t believe any reasonable-minded man could see any farther than his bank account.
October also offers me a chance to visit my dear lady-Wicca friends and attend their monthly meeting (3rd Saturday) of the Women’s Weekend Witches Society (WWWS). It’s the only time of the year I can spend a Saturday doing that and I definitely must be there this year. Last spring they surprised me with an honorary induction into their coven. It is a big deal for me because I am the only male ever to have bestowed such an honor. Besides, their meeting in the month of All Hallows is always exciting and full of new energy and ideas.
There are a few herbs a friend asked me to grow for her so she could use them in her practice of the darker arts. She goes by the name of Lady Murielle, but she is a PhD doctor who owns her own business. When I asked her why she used the term, "dark arts," she said it is an art usually frowned upon by the majority of people.
I asked her what she wanted me to grow and in what quantities. She got out her tattered, well-used grimoire and a wish list bookmark fell out onto the floor. She had been saving and adding to the list ever since she met me two years ago. Being from Brooklyn, NY, she had never met a real farmer who loved to grow plants simply because they are beautiful, useful and can teach us so much.
Here’s what she requested and some of the "why."
Anise (Pimpinella anisum) and sweet fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) are two main ingredients in absinthe, which is used in some voodoo rituals. Anise seed is used to increase clarity of the mind while conjuring and spelling. Besides, it tastes good and warms the spirits on a cold autumn night and fennel seed makes good Italian sausage! Now, that really gets me going!
Aloes are used to invoke demons and she uses it to locate personal demons within good people and separate them from their shortcomings. The only aloe I currently grow and share is the torch plant (Aloe aristata) and she was pleased to get that.
Vervain (Verbena officinalis) was requested, but I grow many vervains. Purple-top vervain (Verbena bonariensis) is the one she selected to harvest this year, even though it was covered in powdery mildew. She uses it as a contact medium for certain spirits.
Lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora) is one of my favorite lemon-scented herbs to grow. She uses it as a conjure. It apparently causes great trouble between lovers. When I asked her why she would want to do that, she said, "Some lovers shouldn’t be."
Poke root (Phytolacca americana), the root of common pokeweed, is used for many purposes. She uses it to make a conjure ball to use against enemies. Also, tinctures, salves and poultices can be made and used to treat many ailments from chickenpox to ringworm.
Mustard seed (Brassica nigra) is the seed of strife and discord. It also has a great culinary value.
Finally, patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) is one of my favorite herbs to grow. She uses it as a perfume and wears the essential oils in the amulet hanging from her neck. She also uses it to sicken enemies.
Since the herb farm is so far away from roads, I don’t get any trick-or-treaters begging for candy. I think this year I will go down to New Orleans and visit my good friends. I’ll bet Brandi Kelly of Voodoo Authentica can teach me a thing or two about which herbs I should grow for practitioners of the dark arts. That might open up a completely new industry for this old herb farmer.
Here’s a favorite seasonal recipe I call "Boo Soup"! 1 medium ripe pumpkin, cut into manageable chunks
1 small butternut squash, skinned and cut into 1" dices
1 small Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
1 pint chicken stock
1 cup evaporated milk
Salt and pepper
4 ounces fatback (white meat), cut into 1" thin, square slices and fried until crispy (like thick-sliced bacon)
Toasted pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to 350°. Place pumpkin on baking sheets, flesh side down. Roast pumpkin until fork tender, then peel skin away. Put pumpkin in large mixing bowl. Place squash on baking sheet. Roast until golden brown. Place onion on baking sheet. Roast until translucent.
Mix pumpkin, onion, chicken stock and evaporated milk. Puree the mixture in food processor or with hand-held blender. The mixture should be smooth and without chunks. Mix in the chunks of roasted squash for texture. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer mixture on stovetop for 15 minutes. Serve hot. Float a piece of fatback and a few toasted pumpkin seeds on top. Sprinkle on a few parsley flakes for color and another layer of flavor.
Enjoy the season. It’s one of my favorites!
Be sure to find me on Facebook at "Herb Farmer-The Herb Farm."
As always, check with an expert, like your doctor, before using any herbal remedy.