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thalassa
31 Jan 2014, 09:14
So...some oft used herbs and things by Pagans and herbalists include species that are threatenend, near threatened, or even endangered....or are grown in ways and places that affect the habitats of endangered species. Dragons blood, sandalwood, frankinsense, myrrh, and palm wax are just a few i can think of off the top of my head. I don't use any7 of these things myself, unless i've been able to establish where its coming from (which mostly means i don't use any of these thinks)...and instead i've been replacing a good numer of "exotic" herbs and things with native or naturalised species (tho since plenty of native species are also under stree, i don't use those either--i go off the IUCN's Red List). Anyone else do this? What do you replace things with?

Ophidia
31 Jan 2014, 09:34
While I understand that the income derived from it is very important to economically depressed areas of the Appalachians, I avoid products that tout wild-harvested American Ginseng, including energy drinks. There are some ethical wildcrafters out there, but there are more people who destroy both private and public lands and property in their pursuit of the plant. Some private property owners have even had their lives threatened and pets and livestock harassed and killed. Poachers are on the rise, especially now that the good ol' History Channel has blown it up for ratings.

I personally don't know of any magical uses for ginseng, but there are so many other herbs and supplements that will 'boost your whatever' that ginseng is easy to substitute and avoid, and cultivated ginseng is much less expensive.

Morels and some of the other wild-harvested mushrooms are getting to be as bad as wild ginseng, too.

Aeran
31 Jan 2014, 09:34
What's up with sandalwood and frankinsense? Those are the two incenses I usually burn while meditating.

Ophidia
31 Jan 2014, 09:42
What's up with sandalwood and frankinsense? Those are the two incenses I usually burn while meditating.

True sandalwood oil & frankincense (it's a sap) production requires the destruction of the trees. Along with that, the methods used to harvest the lumber and saps for most wood-based products cause the same issues as harvesting trees for lumber. It's just not sustainable. And there are issues with the labor force - indigenous people are exploited because they will work for a fraction of the cost and there's no accountability for injuries or the health & well-being of the natives (or the environment).

anunitu
31 Jan 2014, 10:02
Perz,thank you for bringing this subject up. I must admit that these things never occurred to me. As with products that cause harm to animals in their manufacture the fact is every thing we consume may or may not be from a good source.

It is a good idea to try and know where these things come from. Thank you for the insight. and also Thal..kinda skimmed through at the beginning.

pardon my lack of focus from time to time..Its the Oldtimers thing working my gears again.

Aeran
31 Jan 2014, 10:07
True sandalwood oil & frankincense (it's a sap) production requires the destruction of the trees. Along with that, the methods used to harvest the lumber and saps for most wood-based products cause the same issues as harvesting trees for lumber. It's just not sustainable. And there are issues with the labor force - indigenous people are exploited because they will work for a fraction of the cost and there's no accountability for injuries or the health & well-being of the natives (or the environment).

That's pretty shitty, guess I just never thought about it. Thanks for the heads up. Any thoughts on better alternatives for incense?

Rowanwood
31 Jan 2014, 10:20
I tend to use fragrance oils. I collect my own mushrooms. The ginseng is from private owned land in Wisconsin. I don't own some frankincense and myrrh, but its more than 20 years old.

However, I think there's a happy medium when using some resources. I think instead of just boycotting, you need to spend your money in the right way instead. There are many native resources that can help people.

DanieMarie
31 Jan 2014, 11:39
I only use herbs I grow in the garden or I can buy at the Turkish market (all common culinary herbs and spices in Germany). So, I don't use any of those. I practice a life of frugalism and I don't believe in spending money for spells and rituals. I just make substitutions for herbs that have the same meaning.

Maria de Luna
31 Jan 2014, 14:25
However, I think there's a happy medium when using some resources. I think instead of just boycotting, you need to spend your money in the right way instead. There are many native resources that can help people.
I have to agree with this, spend your money where you want to see growth. There are a few resins and such that I won't use because they really are endangered and so on (dragons blood resin is really one of those that we should avoid, even though it is lovely smelling.) Put your money where you want to see the industry flourish instead, and things will migrate to where the money is.

nbdy
31 Jan 2014, 15:31
I decided many years ago that the universe loves a resourceful woman, so about the only thing I buy at this point is candles, which are made pretty close to home. I think your information regarding frankincense harvesting may be only partly correct, though. My understanding of the process is that the trees are wounded so that the sap emerges and hardens and then the sap is scraped off. The tree is not killed because it is the goose laying the golden egg. All the same, I don't think I would enjoy a life of some one harvesting my scabs after they slice me, though that could be a good premise for a horror flick.

thalassa
31 Jan 2014, 17:49
I think your information regarding frankincense harvesting may be only partly correct, though. My understanding of the process is that the trees are wounded so that the sap emerges and hardens and then the sap is scraped off. The tree is not killed because it is the goose laying the golden egg. All the same, I don't think I would enjoy a life of some one harvesting my scabs after they slice me, though that could be a good premise for a horror flick.


This would be where sustainable harvesting comes into play. When the trees are properly harvested, yes...this is how its done. The problem currently is that frankincense if overtapped, leading to the death of the trees and because of how the land is used otherwise, seedlings don't survive (cattle eats them or they are burned to clear scrub to get to adult trees). Also, a lot of these trees are being cut down--the frankincense is harvested, and then the land is converted for agriculture. It doesn't help that, from what I understand, frankincense is notoriously difficult to propagate. Something else to think about is that is *where* these things are coming from--a really large number of the frankincense and myrrh trade comes from Somalia, which doesn't have a terribly stable government to regulate anything. In Ethiopia, the government used to be in charge of the harvest and controlled it with an eye to long term sustainability. Now that it isn't, private companies with short term contracts only really care about the short term profits.

For dragons blood though, no, the entire tree is chopped down. Unlike rubber or frankincense, you can't get enough out to be profitable. When dragon's blood is sustainably harvested, then a new tree is planted for every tree cut down. Myrrh, if I remember is harvested the same way that frankincense is, and isn't as badly off. Sandalwood requires the tree to be cut down, and there is a lot of illegal harvesting there. If you like furniture, rosewood, mahogany, ebony, and teak have similar problems.

I might add, that from a conservation standpoint, one would think that sustainable practices would win--the goose laying the golden egg is a good analogy...but its not reflective of the economics involved. But, as with fisheries, that isn't the case. Its based on a principle called the discount rate, which is a calculation of "by how much a future receipt of a dollar need be discounted to make market participants indifferent between receiving the payment in the future or today." (http://osbsustainablefuture.org/home/section-newsletter/20114winter1pozdena/) Unless governments regulate ecologically based industries, the industry as a whole (even if individual companies try to do otherwise) always exploits the ecosystem until their is no more product--think The Lorax, which really is explains the economics involved. What really "wins" (which means that the species looses, as do harvesters/fishemen) is the private companies--the middlemen between the harvester and the consumer...simply because of the economics involved. When you ain't got enough to get by, people will always be motivated to "take a little more" on the basis that "its just me, just this one time, it won't matter, I really need it"...but when (nearly) everyone does it, every time (or for a sustained amount of time)...its sort of like saying "its just a piece of cake" at every meal.

The problem is that these products come from very poor places in the world. There is a lot of pressure for people to be involved in the illegal harvest and trade of these products. Yes, there are sustainable harvesting practices that are used by some groups that benefit native peoples and support them--but for every group like this, there are dozens that aren't...that are either exploiting the people, the plant (or animal), or both. It is very easy to say lets give our money to the people doing it right...but its very difficult in practice to make sure that is happening--look at the ivory trade. If you are going to use these products, to do so ethically, if you care about the exploitation of ecosystems (including their human component) requires a very careful vetting of the company and its suppliers and their practices.

thalassa
31 Jan 2014, 18:13
So...someone asked what can you use instead. That sort of depends on *what* you are using it for. I have a fellow blogger friend in the UK that refuses to use sage for smudging. Not because its endangered (though in some ecosystems its in decline due to over harvesting and fire) but because she figures that if she has to have it shipped halfway around the world, it better be because nothing she can find will do the same thing. And...lets face it, Europe in general (and England specifically) is full of plants that can cleanse a space--lavender, chamomile, fennel, peppermint, thyme.

Sure, you might need to use more than one plant in a combination...but if you have a purpose, all you need to do is look at a list of correspondences to find herbs that work...but its not hard to do. In the back of Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, there are correspondence tables...there's another book called Holland's Grimoire of Magickal Correspondences, which is basically an entire book of correspondence lists. Mrs. P has a book on herbalism that separates things out by purpose too, which I hear is quite good (and one day, I will pick up a copy of). And, there is always getting to know your local flora--there is a great deal of overlap between Europe and the US due to naturalized species.



I tend to use fragrance oils.

See, I think this is great. Like, I love Demeter fragrances--for example, I love the smell of ambergis...but I'm not killing a whale to get it. Their ambergis, and their sandalwood are both synthetic...and really smell exactly like the real deal.




Oh...not in response to anyone, I just thought of this...just a general guideline based on my own scrutiny of products...if its cheap, its probably not grown or harvested sustainably.

B. de Corbin
31 Jan 2014, 20:16
Is it ok to make leather out of carp, as a way of reducing an invasive species, or wallets out of boas invading Florida?

Rowanwood
31 Jan 2014, 20:22
Is it ok to make leather out of carp, as a way of reducing an invasive species, or wallets out of boas invading Florida?

I have honestly considered trying to make jewelry from carp scales. We bow fish for carp (well, I haven't gotten to go in 2 years..but I SHALL KILL AGAIN) and we've tried eating them instead and its...well, you just don't want to unless you have nothing else to eat. It's pretty gruesome.

But I feel no guilt about killing them for sport. They are non-native, invasive and overpopulated.

And it sure is fun!

http://i37.photobucket.com/albums/e52/maeves_child/fishin_0021.jpg

Rae'ya
31 Jan 2014, 20:27
Is it ok to make leather out of carp, as a way of reducing an invasive species, or wallets out of boas invading Florida?

Off topic, but I say 'yes'.

They make all sorts of weird and wonderful things out of cane toads here in Australia.

As to the original question... the main thing that I buy for spellwork is essential oils, which I also use for aromatherapy. I try to be careful about the brands that I use, and I don't own any oils that are made from saps and resins. I don't use incense and the only herbs I buy are culinary. My mugwort smudge stick, according to the brand and label, was grown in someone's back garden.

Candles are a bit trickier. Candles are a veritable ethical and sustainability minefield.

- - - Updated - - -


I have honestly considered trying to make jewelry from carp scales. We bow fish for carp (well, I haven't gotten to go in 2 years..but I SHALL KILL AGAIN) and we've tried eating them instead and its...well, you just don't want to unless you have nothing else to eat. It's pretty gruesome.

But I feel no guilt about killing them for sport. They are non-native, invasive and overpopulated.

And it sure is fun!

I grew up catching pretty much nothing but carp in the Murray River. It's actually illegal to throw them back, so we would bash them on the head with a stick and leave them on the bank. Not much else you could do with them, unless your parents were inclined to soak them in vinegar and water for three days before cooking them up. It may sound terrible, but we were doing out little bit of culling out an incredibly damaging and invasive non-native species that has been systematically destroying Australian river ecosystems for generations.

thalassa
31 Jan 2014, 20:45
Is it ok to make leather out of carp, as a way of reducing an invasive species, or wallets out of boas invading Florida?


HELL YEAH!

I make tons of stuff out of English Ivy for exactly that reason. Eat them garlic mustards and kudzu! Strip those honeysuckles bare of flowers! Eat those lionfish!

Ophidia
01 Feb 2014, 09:08
I cannot wait to try lionfish! Seriously. I will lie to my husband about what it is, too, just so he'll eat it with no 'but it's so preeetttyyy!' qualms.

thalassa
09 Feb 2014, 09:10
What about crystals? Anyone have an opinion? Yesterday I found lovely shop with handmade jewelry from amethyst, rose quartz, amber and the like (truly beautiful stuff--they had mermaids carved into amber pendants, fossil ivory carved sea turtles, rings and things from citrine and smoky quartz. I sort of thought *ooh! a high end Pagan gem shop!* when I saw it, lol...but then I was thinking (after I bough Chickadee an adorable rose quartz and silver kiddie sized adjustable bracelet for her birthday)...

I really don't know enough about the usual mining practices of crystals and I don't use them enough to really have an opinion. I have a few things from this place (http://www.wegnercrystalmines.com/green.html), which looks like they do a good job cleaning up afterwards, and a few from a friend that went here, where they let you prospect (http://www.hiddenitegems.com/) their emerald mine (I'd like to take the kids this summer to check it out--at least its local...). I do know that plenty of mining practices are shitty, environmentally speaking...but how shitty is mining for stuff like lapis and labradorite? Can the shittiness actually be mitigated? How do you even find out? How can you track the origins and legitimacy of gemstones (I mean, we've all heard of conflict diamonds by now, and gold has problems too)?

DanieMarie
09 Feb 2014, 10:24
Sage has to be shipped? I totally grow sage here. Probably a different species though. I grow Mediterranean sage.

Rowanwood
09 Feb 2014, 11:00
I love the smell of ambergis...but I'm not killing a whale to get it. Their ambergis, and their sandalwood are both synthetic...and really smell exactly like the real deal.


Actually what we think of as amber is NOT what ambergris smells like. It's actually a name used in the perfume industry for copal -- which is actually very sustainable and safe to use even if you have a moral issue. But it is usually more expensive.

https://circle.ubc.ca/handle/2429/10724

thalassa
09 Feb 2014, 17:17
Actually what we think of as amber is NOT what ambergris smells like. It's actually a name used in the perfume industry for copal -- which is actually very sustainable and safe to use even if you have a moral issue. But it is usually more expensive.

https://circle.ubc.ca/handle/2429/10724

I like copal too...and amber-amber. I'm talking actual ambergis--we had a chunk of it at the museum, it smells excellent when its "aged" (apparently new it smells like poo, which makes sense, lol)...when sperm whales die or puke/poop it out, it floats and comes ashore. It used to be a big product of whale hunting.



Sage has to be shipped? I totally grow sage here. Probably a different species though. I grow Mediterranean sage.

Different kind of sage--smudging sage is generally California white sage.

DanieMarie
10 Feb 2014, 06:24
Gotcha. I've lived here too long lol.