spice of africa

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Cultural Appropriation is a real, important, and harmful thing, but god damn if it’s not one of the most recklessly abused terms in the social justice lexicon.

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Unusual Herbs

Recently, as I was reading through several books, I came across quite a few ingredients that I had either never heard of or was unsure of their exact nature. While the herbs compiled below are not necessarily “unusual,” they are ones of which I did not have extensive knowledge. Hopefully this list can be of help to anyone new to the craft, if not at least interesting reference material. 

Asafoetida:
Also known as “devil’s dung” due to its foul smell, asafoetida is a type of resin derived from a perennial herb native to Iran and Afghanistan. Today, it is mainly used as a powdered seasoning in India, as it tastes like garlic or onions when heated. Its magical powers include exorcism, purification, and protection. Careful when storing, as the odour may contaminate nearby herbs. 

Bistort:
Also referred to as “snake weed,” bistort is a flowering plant native to Europe, as well as North and West Asia. Its long flowers are different shades of pink. The American bistort (or smokeweed) has white to pinkish blooms. This plant’s magical uses include physic powers and fertility. When combined with frankincense, you can improve physic powers, aid in divination, or drive out poltergeists.

Calamus:
May be called “sweet flag,” “sweet rush,” “sweet cane,” “sweet grass,” “sweet root,” or “sweet sedge.” A type of wetland plant, its magical uses include luck, healing, money, and protection. The powdered root can be used in healing incenses and sachets. Use caution, this plant may be carcinogenic.

Cinquefoil:
Of the two species listed in Cunningham’s Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs, one is native to the eastern parts of US and Canada, while another is native to Eurasia and Northern Africa. Cinquefoil has blooms that can be white or yellow and leaves looking similar to those on strawberry plants. Its magical uses include money, protection, prophetic dreams, and sleep. 

Deerstongue:
Sometimes called “wild vanilla” because the leaves, when crushed or dried, produce the scent of vanilla. The leaves can be used to flavour tobacco. Native to North America, this herb grows pretty purple florets, and it is this attribute which leads some to call it by another name, “blazing star.” Its magical uses are lust and psychic powers. 

Galangal: 
Lesser galangal (Alpinia officinarum) is native to China, while greater galangal (Alpinia galanga) is native to South Asia and Indonesia. May be referred to as “chewing John” or “Low John the Conqueror,” this herb is a member of the ginger family. Its magical uses include protection, lust, health, money, psychic powers, and hex-breaking. If galangal is not available, ginger may be substituted. 

Grains of Paradise:
This peppery-like spice is native to West Africa and, along with galangal, belongs to the ginger family. Its powers include lust, luck, love, money, and wishes. While holding some grains of paradise in your hands, make a wish, and then throw a little of the herb to each direction, beginning in the north and ending in the west. 

Heliotrope:
Careful, this plant is poisonous! The flowers of “cherry pie” or “turnsole” can be white or purple and have the fragrance of vanilla. Garden heliotrope originates from Peru, while common heliotrope is native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia. This herb can be used for exorcism, prophetic dreams, healing, wealth, and invisibility. 

Niaouli:
Most commonly used as an essential oil, niaouli is a type of tree covered in papery bark from the genus melaleuca, of “tea tree” fame. Niaouli oil is made from the leaves and twigs of the tree. Though native to Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, and parts of Australia, it is considered a weed in the United States. Appropriate for use in a “protective” oil blend. 

Petitgrain:
Another essential oil, petitgrain is made from the leaves and twigs of the bitter orange tree, thus giving it a woodsy, citrus scent. This would also work well in a “protective” oil blend. 

Stephanotis:
A flowering plant with waxy, white blooms and leathery leaves, the particular species “Madagascar jasmine” is popular in wedding bouquets. Its essential oil has the magical property of friendship. 

Tansy:
Sometimes referred to as “golden buttons” because of the appearance of its flowers. It is native to Eurasia but invasive in some parts of North America and is toxic if ingested. Tansy can be planted to repel ants, and magically, it has the powers of health and longevity. 

Ti:
This plant is native to southeastern Asia, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, northeastern Australia, and parts of Polynesia, but was introduced to Hawaii by Polynesian settlers and greatly utilised there. “Ki” in Hawaiian, this plant is also referred to as “good luck plant.” Its associated deities include Kāne, Lono, and Pele. Magically, ti is used for protection and healing. Green ti planted around the house creates a protective barrier. 

Tuberose:
A richly scented, night-blooming white flower native to Mexico. Tuberose absolute is true tuberose essential oil, while others are synthesised for the scent. If the fragrance bouquet is all you need, you can create this with the oils of ylang-ylang, rose, jasmine, and a hint of neroli. Magically used in love-attracting mixtures. 

Woodruff:
Strongly scented, herbaceous plant sometimes referred to as “sweet woodruff,” “master of the woods,” or “wild baby’s breath.” Commercially, dried woodruff is used as pot-pourri or moth deterrent, but magically, it is used for victory, protection, and money. 

Ecoland/Seeds of Hope/BESH

Today we went to a farmer’s association that specializes in organic products. They raise hogs, beef, and herbs and spices. They also have a program that sources herbs and spices from places in Africa and India.

This guy’s family has farmed this same plot of land since 1358. They literally live in the same house. To stay alive when things started going global, he started specializing in organic food. Here is our tour guide wearing traditional wool and showing us the solar powered greenhouse they use to dry spices in, like a giant dehydrator.

Because we got to see the process of the food today, I trusted it completely, which is different from organic food in the States! I always am a little mistrustful, and not sure if it’s worth the sticker shock. This bratwurst had only two ingredients: meat and spices. I definitely felt full, clean, and happy afterward! It also tasted delicious.

We also saw some bratwurst in it’s natural habitat…and fed them some apples.

They also have an enormous market on site. I’m a secret hippie, and a huge sucker for places like this:

So, “naturally“…I wanted to buy everything. I stuck to some nice bedtime tea…

…and some cultured milk loosely connected with yogurt. Still not sure what exactly it was, but it tasted great! “Demeter” means it adheres to standards higher than that of “Certified Organic.” It was the real deal.

Germany is the winner when it comes to holistic health! I need to jump on the bandwagon.

Reggae music has had a long and rich relationship with the African continent. Rastafari teaches that Africa, specifically Ethiopia, is the Zion of Scriptures.

Reggae has been criticized for a somewhat idealistic view of Africa, but what critics often fail to appreciate is the depth of political interest reggae artists, both Rastafarian and not, had in African politics. Reggae musicians were at the forefront of criticism of Apartheid and the colonial repression and wars in Rhodesia, Mozambique, Namibia, and Angola. This explains, in part, how much the music has been embraced on the continent, with Africa producing some of the genre’s finest singers, many of whom are also included on this mix.

This mix is divided into the themes of Africa as a motherland, African identity, repatriation, African sufferation, freedom and revolution in Africa, the pride and beauty of Africa, and, finally, the Uniting of Africa.

Tracklisting:
1) Rocky Dawuni - African Reggae Fever
2) Bushman and Buju Banton - Mama Africa
3) Peter Tosh - Mama Africa
4) Sugar Black - Mama Africa
5) Anthony B - Oh Mama Africa
6) Beres Hammond - Motherland
7) Gyptian - Mama Africa
8) General Gbekai - Mama Africa
9) Takana Zion and Sizzla - Mama Africa
10) Buju Banton, Anthony B, and Garnett Silk - Mama Africa
11) Garnett Silk - Mama Africa
12) Johnny Clarke - African Roots
13) Clint Eastwood - African Roots
14) Alton Ellis - African Descendents
15) Peter Tosh - African
16) Culture - Humble African
17) The Abyssinians - African Race
18) Linval Thompson - Natty African
19) Heptones - African Child
20) Aswad - African Children
21) Prince Far I - Black Man Land
22) Lone Ranger - Step It Inna Africa
23) U Roy - Jah Son of Africa
24) Prince Alla - Last Train to Africa
25) Gaylads - Africa We Want to Go
26) Dennis Brown - Africa We Want to Go
27) Earl 16 - Going to Africa
28) Buju Banton - Til I’m Laid to Rest
29) Freddie McGregor - Africa Here I Come
30) Capleton and Uplifter - Africa Bound
31) Morgan Hertiage - Africa Here We Come
32) Johnny Osbourne - Mama Africa
33) Luciano and General Pecos - Back to Africa
34) Linval Thompson - Africa We Want to Go
35) Alton Ellis - Back to Africa
36) Junior Kelly - Africa Bound
37) Horace Andy - Africa
38) Dennis Brown - Promised Land
39) Dennis Brown, Damian Marley, and Nas - Land of Promise
40) Junior Byles - A Place Called Africa
41) Sugar Minott - Africa is the Black Man’s Home
42) Richie Spice - Motherland Calling
43) Sizzla - Africa Prepare
44) Tarrus Riley - Africa Awaits
45) Aswad - Back to Africa
46) Tenor Saw - African Children
47) Burning Spear - African
48) Steel Pulse feat. Tiken Jah Fakoly - African Holocaust
49) Johnny Diamond - African Song
50) Burning Spear - Cry Blood Africans
51) Bob Marley and the Wailers - War
52) Pentateuch - Struggles of Africa
53) Jimmy Cliff - War A Africa
54) Alpha Blondy - Bloodshed in Africa
55) Tiken Jah Fakoly - Africa Want to Be Free
56) I Roy - African Continent
57) Rupert Reid - Africa Shall Be Free
58) Hugh Mundell - Africa Must Be Free by 1983
59) Horace Any - African Liberation
60) Twinkle Brothers - Free Africa
61) Mighty Diamonds - Free Africa
62) Yabby You - Free Africa
63) Warrior King - Africa Shall Be Free
64) Queen Ifrica - Calling Africa
65) Jay Boys - African People
66) Half Pint - Freedom Fighter
67) King Kong - Moving on the African Border
68) Tiken Jah Fakoly - African Révolution
69) Natural Black - Beautiful Place
70) Stephen Marley and the Cast of Fela - Made in Africa
71) Buju Banton - African Pride
72) Ismael Isaac - Children of Africa
73) Ranking Joe - Africa
74) Tony Rebel - Africa
75) Earl Zero - African People
76) Nasio Fontaine - Africa We Love
77) Mykal Rose - Oh Africa
78) Desmond Dekker and the Aces - Pretty Africa
79) Gregory Isaacs - Beautiful Africa
80) Nasio Fontaine - African Spirit
81) Damian Marley and K'NAAN - Africa Must Wake Up
82) Black Uhuru - World is Africa
83) Lucky Dube - Together As One
84) Askia Modibo - La Paix En Afrique
85) Majek Fashek - African Unity
86) Bob Marley and the Wailers - Africa Unite

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