Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Setting a New Course...and getting cozy

Illustration unknown
Over the past several months I've shared my research into diverse figures of cultural mythology, from Scotland's Kelpie to the Cherokee Little People. The purpose of this intellectual adventure was to aid in the writing of my current work-in-progress, Murmuration, a novel woven with threads of magical realism. And although I've found the subject fascinating, I've decided to set this project aside for a variety of reasons. Not abandoned. Just on an indefinite leave of absence while I pursue a different literary direction. 

Bath Oil with Herbs and Leaves in Glass Bottle
Photo by Matte via Wikimedia commons
My creative compass is pulling me toward a genre that feels right for me at present; one in which my natural tendency toward gentle humor and love of puzzling out solutions is at home-- the Cozy Mystery. Think Agatha Christie's "Miss Marple" series, Alexander McCall Smith's The Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and Lilian Jackson Braun's "The Cat Who" books. I'm in the very beginning stage of bringing this book to life but I do know a few facts: the main character is a female (age to be determined,) living in Edenton, North Carolina, who works as an aromatherapist/perfumier. My amateur sleuth's occupation will both lead her into and help her solve crimes that boil to the surface of this quaint southern town. My days as a certified massage therapist introduced me to the world of aromatherapy and the power of fragrance and essential oils. We all know how our sense of smell can affect our moods, transport us to a different time and place, rekindle memories (pleasant or un.) So! For the next several weeks, my blog posts will introduce us to the qualities and uses of essential oils. Of course, this information is never meant to be a replacement for appropriate medical care and if you try any of these oils, start with a small test amount to be sure you have no allergies to them. There are many great online sources of information regarding the use of essential oils and sources from which to purchase them. Always be sure your oils are pure essential, not the extracts you buy from the grocery store. A couple good online suppliers are Aura Cacia and Plant Therapy.

With all the "chill-you-to-the-bone" weather we are experiencing, I found several oils that
Ginger,  Photograph by Frank C. Müller, Baden-Baden
via Wikimedia Commons
warm us up, physically and emotionally. One of those is ginger. Pure essential oil of ginger root has been used for thousands of years to aid circulation, ease indigestion, and relieve muscle aches and pains. It has a lovely warm, citrusy fragrance that is a comfort on these cold days. There are many ways to use ginger oil but two easy and lovely methods are to add about 6 drops to your bath water just before you step in and add 6 drops to 10 ml of a carrier oil or lotion that you massage into your skin. I like to use pure jojoba oil as a carrier since it is very similar to our natural skin oil and is generally at home with any skin type.

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! (And stay cozy.)


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February...you give me Fever

Vintage Valentine
Cue the rhythmic finger snapping in 4/4 time: snap--snap--snap--snap--

"Never know how much I love you
Never know how much I care
When you put your arms around me
I get a fever that's so hard to bear
You give me fever
When you kiss me
Fever when you hold me tight
Fever! in the morning
Fever all through the night..." 

Fever! Peggy Lee's sultry voice will forever be connected with this sensuous song. Experience it for yourself via this YouTube video: 

So what does Fever have to do with February? This month of groundhogs, Valentines, presidents, and civil rights activists, has a name we trace back to its Roman origins. It originally honored Februus, the god of purification, and marked the time of year when spring purification ceremonies were held. Spring? Spring? Did someone say Spring? Sounds to me like a little wishful thinking on the part of those ancient Romans...but perhaps spring came earlier there. Of course February 2nd was
Faun and Nymph, about 1615, Peter Paul Rubens
Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow which means an early spring...except it was sunny here in Edenton, North Carolina--so does that mean our spring will be late? Sorry, I digress. Anyway, getting back to Februus--one means of purification is by fire and heat and thus Febris, goddess of fever, came to be. The heat of a fever does, in fact, help to purify by killing off infection which is why we are advised to not take steps to lower a fever unless the fever itself has gone so high it is, in itself, dangerous. 
Another celebration about the same time of year which included ritual purification was that of Lupercalia. That day honored the god Faun, so Faun and Februus were often thought of as the same being. Hmmm. Somehow I just don't usually connect Faun with purity. Lupercalia also honored the she-wolf who nursed the founders of Rome -- Romulus and Remus. Not sure how all that relates, but there you have it. 
Februus's festival of purification, known as Februalia, fell on the 15th of the month. That means it's exactly one day following that traditional celebration of feverish romance, Valentine's Day. I shall say no more.
Peggy Lee

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! 

Kate (snap--snap--snap--snap...)