Homemade Apple Tea Recipe for Spring Season Blues

Photo by S. Hermann & F. Richter 

You may be thinking, “Why a hot tea recipe at the start of the spring season?”. Well, if you live in the Midwest like I do, you know that weather can be somewhat unpredictable. Temperatures fall and rise so sporadically, even meteorologists have a hard time keeping up. However, it can be rather pricey to constantly adjust one’s HVAC settings between heat and air conditioning from day-to-day. These frequent changes can be a challenge for our immunity and general health. This is where I insert a nice and versatile beverage to help keep me healthy, save my pockets and warm my spirit.

More on spirit, any concoction can be enhanced with the magic touch of intention. Just stir the tea in a clockwise motion while pondering on the holistic benefits of your ingredients as if they have already began working on you. A significant aspect of nutritional effectiveness is mental receptivity. Considering the nature of our mind-body connection, choosing a more positive outlook on potential outcomes may have beneficial results on overall health and, therefore, can only serve to assist any ingested nutrients.

Apple Tea has recently joined my repertoire for cold weather enjoyment. Here is my recipe along with a few reasons why:

Photo by Brittney S. Atkinson

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan

It’s easy to overlook water as being a just the base of a concoction but it’s so much more than that. Water is a transporter, the stage that gives the other ingredients space to play their part. Especially when heated, it’s the activator that moves the flavors out to be drinkable. It’s what hydrates us.

2 Apples

I used 2 small fiji apples, each cut into 4 equally-sized pieces. Add or reduce amount depending on how sweet (or apple-y) you’d like your tea to be. Apples are not only good for the immune system, they also contribute to heart health and may prevent other kinds of diseases. Spiritually, apples are considered a feminine herb ruled by the planet Venus and, therefore, can be used for intentions regarding love and healing. Apples also go by the folk name “Fruit of the Underworld” and are used as an offering for the dead, usually during the fall.

1 Tsp of Clove

A teaspoon is a rough guesstimate as I tend to go by feel of what I might like to taste at the moment I’m making. Clove is an Indonesian spice known to be high in antioxidants and even serve to help diabetics against insulin resistance. Spiritually, clove is considered a masculine herb ruled by the planet of luck, Jupiter. For this reason, it is often employed for matters of protection, love and money.

2-3 Cinnamon Sticks

This amount is also an approximation. Add as much as you think you might like to taste. Cinnamon is also a spice packed with antioxidants and can help lower blood sugar levels. Energetically, it is a masculine herb ruled by the sun with versatile use. It is considered to assist with tuning in to one’s Higher Self as well as matters of healing, protection, success and lust.

1 Anise Star

Anise has a distinct licorice flavor so not much is needed but, again, it’s entirely up to you. If you are not a fan of licorice, feel free to treat this ingredient as optional. However, studies on the effects of anise, when consumed regularly, may prove it to be uplifting to individuals living with depression. Another masculine herb ruled by Jupiter, anise is also known for protection and purification.

Place all items in the saucepan and bring back to a boil

Set your intentions here. Stand over it, look into it, or just carry out each action of making it with joy and mindfulness. This is the magical ingredient!

Turn off the heat and allow to steep

When the color of the water begins to change to a reddish-brown, you know you’ve got a decent brew going. This may take at least 10 minutes but can be left in longer for a fuller taste. Be mindful of how you’ve packed in each ingredient as this should be considered for steep length. This is also time to further set your intentions for your tea.

Reheat, sweeten and serve

By the time you’ve decided your tea has steeped long enough, it may have cooled down quit a bit. If it’s warm where you are (or, like my husband, you’d rather have cold tea in any case) and you’d prefer a cool drink, add honey or another sweetener of choice while hot and pour it over a glass of ice after it cools down. If you want it hot, you may need to reheat the tea in the pot before pouring it into your favorite mug. No matter what you choose, I recommend a small strainer or funnel to transfer the tea as smoothly as possible and adding an apple slice from your original brew for added flavor over drinking time.

Enjoy!

Spiritual Progress Through Pandemic Activation

Do you find yourself rushing? The most sustaining results are the ones that come with real and gradual work. Not quick fixes and short cuts. If this pandemic has given us anything is time to be still. Sounds painfully false in some ways. Certainly ironic. But let’s consider a few things.

Many of us now have more time with our families and/or with ourselves. An activation to spend time more time with our friends and elderly, even if it’s just one last time. We have time to think about what we really want, how we can create and where we want to go the next chance we get.

The catch? You’ve got to take a beat and give your Self the time to even think about where you are right now and what is most important. Mind, body and soul. Don’t waste it!

Namaste.

Traditional Chinese Medicine at a Glance

Thousands of years ago, Chinese medicine practitioners had enough insight to develop the understanding we could not simply be composed of flesh and bone alone. Instead, they regarded the human body as a microcosm of Universe and, therefore, the state of our overall health and well-being is subjected to same Universal laws with harmony and balance being the ultimate goal.

Like the macrocosm of existence, the body is capable of sustaining itself through the carrying out of various cycles and activities that operate in an interconnected flow, vitalized by what is referred to as “qi” or “chi”. This is the energy that flows through and connects all forms of life as the animating force that ignites us beyond pure mechanical functioning and bodily existence.

Over time, it came to be understood that this life force energy flows in specific patterns called channels of meridians, each making their way through certain body parts and organ systems. When these pathways are obstructed due to injury, illness or stress, we face associated physiological and psychological ailments. When blocked for long periods, these issues are considered chronic. It is believed that working through these blockages via “alternative” therapies and practices, such as acupuncture, herbalism, massage and yoga, can help the flow of our energy to run smoothly and bring us back into balance.

The concept of balance in Traditional Chinese Medicine stems from Taoism. This ancient philosophy is founded on the principle that the Universe operates in an inherent flow and in order for one to live a whole and effortless life, they must live in the Tao, or The Way. The Tao, however, is just as indescribable as the complexity of Universe itself and, therefore, is physical as well as non-physical – much like the mind-body. In each case exists dual complimentary forces visible throughout nature. These forces are called yin and yang. Yin describes more feminine qualities (cold, receptive, dark) whereas yang describes more masculine qualities (heat, forceful, light).

TCM also acknowledges that there are five fundamental elements of nature that interact with each other within the principle of yin and yang and categorize our organs, systems and structures. The elements are fire, wood, earth, water and metal. Fire represents our physical warmth , creativity and feelings such as passion and happiness; associated with the small intestines and heart organ. Wood represents our ability to regenerate and restore as well as feelings of anger or contentment; associated with the liver and gallbladder organs. Earth is regarded as the measure of our connected-ness and ability to receive and digest; associated with the stomach and spleen organ and feelings of compassion . Water represents stillness and the physical moisture necessary to lubricate our systems for proper functioning; associated with the kidneys and bladder organs and feelings of fear. Metal represents the minerals we produce and need for structure; associated with the lungs and large intestine (air element in Western culture).

In a generative (yin) cycle, Wood feeds Fire, Fire creates Earth, Earth bears Metal, Metal collects Water, and Water nourishes Wood. In a degenerative (yang) relationship, one element is being destroyed by another: Wood penetrates Earth, Earth absorbs Water, Water puts out Fire, Fire melts Metal, and Metal chops Wood.

It’s important not to perceive one process as good or bad as both construction and destruction serve the overall purpose of harmony in health and in nature. For instance, destruction is necessary in order for the food to be broken down for digestion and nourishment. Rather, it is best to avoid overwhelming extremes for excessive periods of time. Imbalance can be caused in the case of overproduction as well. For example, the overproduction of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is responsible for the condition known as Gigantism, a disorder of excessive growth during childhood that lead to a variety of other health issues.

In conclusion, TCM focuses on the maintenance of the flow of vital life force energy in the body, mind and in connection with all living beings. Surrender and accordance with natural cycles will allow for an effortless balance resulting in overall harmony and satisfaction. The approach is prevention of disease and disorder opposed to only treatment of symptoms. A complete path to wholeness.

Black History Month: A Personal Checkpoint

Here we are in February 2020. Happy Black History Month! It’s a time intentionally designated for the reflection of what African people have endured and how we have overcome. From the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to the Civil Rights Movement, our culture has been embedded with the knowledge of our resilience. However, I’ve noticed how this has come with a price. The celebratory nature of this season aside, the revisiting of our historical trauma compiled with our individual experiences with prejudice year-round takes a psychosomatic toll on us that shows up in how we interact with the world, each other and ourselves. James Baldwin describes it clearly, “To be negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”

As is well-known, African-American history is filled with devastating atrocities that have had lasting affects on the collective psyche of Black Americans. Not to mention the systematic oppression and displacement that continues to this day. I recall periods when my social media timeline was overflowing with gut-wrenching images, and stories of acts of violence against the black community, many of which were not historical at all but quite current. Still, in all forms, debates ensue over policies that govern how human existence should be valued, expressed or just how human some groups should even be considered for that matter.

The most frustrating of which are the dividing issues within our community that these matters create. I, myself, have been caught up in the back-and-forth with what there is to do and how to perceive our collective situation only to end up at tiring odds with the people I wish to stand by to achieve a common goal: peace. I first recognized this in 2014 after Mike Brown was killed. I had lived in St. Louis almost 2 years when I became consumed with outraged and took to the streets in protest for change. What I found, unfortunately, was inconsistency in our ability to organize and a well-intended group filled with mentally and physically overwhelmed individuals. I saw how it only added to the rage.

I later realized this discord was due to our personal relationship with this upset and minimal understanding of how to transmute it into sustainable positive change. Instead of dismantling the system, we’d only get stuck in our disagreement which only led to further frustration. My inner pre-Mecca Malcolm and Rev. Martin became at odds with each other, so after a while I decided to put my protesting on pause and look deeper into the bigger picture. Was I fighting for peace or fighting to fight?

“Was I fighting for peace or fighting to fight?”

The fact of the matter is, as rightfully dismayed as I was by our society, I knew that change was slow and it was up to me to take accountability of myself first. I reflected on the many years resisters before me marched the streets with their picket signs and chants, subjected to arrests, the pressure of fire hoses and the sickening of dogs. I concluded that in order to make change, something different must be done and that I could not preach love and respect to anyone that I decided I no longer felt love or respect for.

My inner journey eventually helped me better comprehend Dr. King’s point, ” …hate cannot drive out hate …”. I had to take a long, hard look at myself and become change opposed to demanding it. This brings me to Brother Malcolm’s point, “Nobody can give you freedom …equality or justice or anything …you take it. So I did. In spite of the outward chaos, I began to liberate myself by cultivating my own balance. My own peace.

Photo by Nappy

While I never shy away from diving deeper into the history and the truth of my people – the good, bad and the ugly – I, now, take more time in February to see where my heart is. I ask myself, “Am I truly practicing the compassion and mindfulness I study? Am I contributing to the chaos or to the path towards peace?”. I admit, it is the absolute hardest thing I have ever worked to do but I have found my personal world has changed significantly for the better since I’ve shifted my energy. I am not as quick to anger (although not perfect) and therefore less controlled by the things I have no control over. I observe more closely, show others more patience and understanding when I can, or do my best to kindly walk away when I cannot.

I am healthier in my body when when I worry less about who is offended by my presence. I have also found that when the times comes for me speak out against an injustice, my voice is stronger, clearer and I feel more resolve to take action opposed to just feeling anger that will eventually turn on me later.

Now, I am still a work is still in progress, may always be and this inner change may have no effect on changing the view of those who insist on being judgmental and oppressive. However, I strive to stay on the path of doing my work, being the change I want to see, gaining new perspective along the way and sharing it with others when I am able. That’s all I can do for now and acceptance of that brings me peace.

Blessed be.

Retrograde Mania: Lessons from the Past

If you began experiencing a lot of challenges this year around April, it may have something to do with the three planets – Jupiter, Pluto and Saturn – that went into retrograde last month. These planets so happen to rule the more abstract aspects of our personal lives and since retrogrades have everything to do with graduating further beyond hindering patterns and issues of the past, we may be facing the resurfacing of pain from old wounds we thought had already healed.

You’ve likely got more layers of healing to go!

Jupiter (retrograde April 10 – August 11, 2019), being the planet that rules the acquiring of knowledge and luck, is checking us on things that hinder our ability to attract the things we want. If you’re finding yourself frustrated due to lack, now is a good time to look in yourself to figure out why.

Pluto (retrograde April 24 – October 3, 2019) is the planet that rules the process rebirth. Use any tough ordeals to see where you are being encouraged to mature and let go of certain thoughts or behaviors in order to propel yourself into a more enlightened sense of being.

Ringed Saturn (retrograde April 29 – September 18, 2019) reminds us of where we are limited, and wants us to learn the proper discipline necessary for us to endure the tests of time. This requires hard work and critical introspection in the areas in our lives that could use some considerable tightening up.

Watch my tarot reading for the retrogrades below:

Retrograde Mania Tarot Reading by Brittney Shawnee’

Forgiveness is an Act of Self Love

I think it’s safe to say that we that there is a “self-love” trend happening in which people are seeking wholeness for themselves by themselves. There is most certainly a positive connotation behind this as many of us are looking to making a change from the martyr mentality and hopeless devotion that we might have found ourselves programmed for in the past. I can relate. For decades, I slipped into false romances in which I was giving way more than what I was receiving and calling it love. Suppressing my true feelings and thoughts became the default as I quietly imploded into a depressed messed. Likely conditioned by my father’s unexplained absence and the dealings of my mother’s trauma, pouring my all into the efforts to be enough for others became a part of my identity. Needless to say, that didn’t last but there were noticeable moments in which that elevation started to turn southeast.

I, like so many of us now, began to awaken and see a better way to live. I, thankfully, had the help of pretty amazing friends, family, and my now husband; not to mention the endless motivational social media quotes and hashtags. However, as I became aware of things on a deeper level, I found myself judging people that did not. In criticizing their ignorance and immaturity, I was inadvertently displaying my own. My ego got in the way of me living the liberated life I really wanted. I separated myself and those who understand true love and compassion know separation is a major contradiction to that. We cannot fully love ourselves if we fail to love others for we are all the same and have been in the same shoes at some point in some way. When we forget this, we take steps backwards. The only way to continue to grow is to heal by way of forgiveness.

Truth be told, the hardest time I’ve had and still have are with my family. It’s difficult to forget where they fell short when I needed them the most and how much it hurt. In the short-term, it’s easier to be self-righteous in my resentment but the best thing I can do is realize where they are and love them there. Yes, even when they are not apologetic. Taking the steps to forgive are some of the hardest but probably the most loving thing you can do for yourself. Forgiveness bumps the ego out of the way. Long-term, forgiveness creates a space for us to learn the hard lessons in the sorrow of it all while developing compassion for others and therefore ourselves. This means that we can develop discernment and know when and how to act in a way that is best for us without carrying deadly hatred and fear in our being.

We cannot not properly conduct self love with hearts full hatred as it will inevitably backfire and manifest in everything we produce. Instead, we can acknowledge our pain and accept our perpetrators for where they are, even if we need to leave them there.

Namaste.

Fathers’ Day Tarot Reading 2018

This entry is a couple of days behind the actual day we celebrate fathers in Western society but this reading is essentially timeless. It is and will remain relevant until we ascend beyond our limited ideas about men and fatherhood that have been shaped by painful experiences. We all make mistakes and many of us have had poor relationships with our fathers if any at all. As all reading are, this one is about healing and love.

Two-Card Spread: Chariot Reversed and Moon

The state of the father in our society is currently a uneasy one. Those who are struggling with the idea of patriarchy in their family and personal life are also lacking a sense of control and direction. Due to this spiritual disconnect, instead of a victory – which an upright Chariot would represent- there is aggression and/or stagnation where there could be joy and progression.

The Moon refers to the subconscious, the psychological imprints of our past that affect our present. Maybe a poor experience with the patriarchs in the family or slacking as a standup patriarch due to psychological barriers. Until those thoughts and feelings are unveiled and handled on a deep and spiritual level, the condition of the family will not heal properly. There will only be continued aggression and shallow connection.

Namaste and blessed be.