The Same But Different

 

‘The Same But Different’

Lets look at ‘Amethyst’

Amethyst is a member of the quartz family of crystals.  Its colour – a purple hue that ranges from the deepest royal purple to the palest of lavender shades – is mainly due to the iron it contains within the crystal.  Amethyst was formed mainly by gas bubbles in volcanic rock.  The name ‘amethyst’ is derived from Greece and means ‘non inebriated’ (amethysts).  Its sober, clearing effect was already known in antiquity, and the crystal was highly prized.  Legend has it that Romans used to place a piece of amethyst in their drinking goblets to avoid the ‘hangover’ effects of over indulging!   Moving forward to the Middle Ages amethyst was described by Konrad von Megenberg as something that ‘makes a person better, disperses bad thoughts, brings good commonsense and makes one mild and gentle’.   Hildegarde von Bingen, and abess from the 12 Century wrote many books including one about crystals and their healing effects – she has written how to make ‘amethyst water’ by steaming a piece of amethyst over a cauldron, and using the amethyst water for skin diseases and swellings and bruising.   It is also known that their was a tradition in Arab countries to place a piece of amethyst under the pillow to prevent nightmares…
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So we have a crystal formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago, and which has through the ages had traditions and properties attributed to it, many of which we still follow today.
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Amethyst can be found in many locations around the world, and here we have examples of amethyst from Brazil, India and Uruguay.   The amazing thing is that no matter where in the world amethyst is found, the crystal structure and content are the same – amethyst is always a form of quartz containing six other minerals.  The chemical formula for amethyst is always SiO2 + (Al, Fe, Ca, Mg, Li, Na)

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Looking at these amethyst pieces made me think – yes it’s all the same but different, in the same way that we, as humans, are all the same but different.

I try to strive not to be the same as the ‘rest’ and instead to celebrate the fact that I am the same yet unique!   I shall continue to enjoy every moment of being ‘me’ – and like you too, I am the same but different!

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What’s around the corner?

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So many of us wander through our daily routines, not knowing what is ‘around the corner’ – we stumble through each day, blind to what is going on around us.

Many are so wrapped up in their work, their day, and rather than look around and enjoy what is ‘here and now’ – just concentrate on those two weeks or ten days in so many months time when they will join the masses and ‘get away from it all’ – they call it a holiday.   It could be considered a ‘hell – iday’ – struggling to save the money, or putting it on credit cards then worrying about how to pay it all off – thinking ‘I’ll be happy when I’m away from it all’ – but if you’re not happy in your day to day life, how can you be happy away from it?  Worrying about how you’re going to pay for your two weeks of ‘freedom’ …

And does this mean that the other 50 weeks of the year have no consequence, that only those two weeks are the days that matter?   No I don’t think so.   I think every day matters, every moment of every day.   You can enjoy every day.   Do you take the bus or tram or train to work?  Enjoy the ride, sit back and allow someone else to battle through the traffic, you can sit back and watch the world go by, or listen to your tunes, or read your book… what a refreshing way to start the day!  Do you have a lunch break?  Enjoy eating your packed lunch, or your bought lunch – take the time to sit and watch the world outside your window, or watch the passers by – where are they going?  What’s on their mind?  If the weather allows it, you may be able to eat your lunch outside, or go for a walk at lunchtime, even if it’s just for 5 minutes, look at the sky, can you see any trees? Or flowers? Or birds?  Enjoy a few moments with nature, reflect upon the seasons.  Enjoy and appreciate the fact that you can look at the sky and the birds!  On your journey home, don’t worry about what’s happened in the office/workplace, leave your work issues at work, you’re on your way home, to your sanctuary, to an evening meal, time to relax and unwind – whether to listen to music, read a book, share a meal with someone, eat your meal on your own with your own thoughts – enjoy and appreciate your home, your family, your friends…

When you have a day or an afternoon off – off work, or just time to your self, do you spend the time on the computer?  Watching TV?  Do you get out and about, walking around your local area, venture to your park, nature reserve, woodland?

There is much to enjoy about each and every day – turn every day into a holiday!   You don’t have to travel very far to explore!

I love to go for walks, I spend many hours inside so when I have the opportunity to go for a walk, I’ll go!  It may be a drive then a walk around somewhere newly discovered, a village, or nearby town.  When time permits its a drive to the coast and a walk on the beach, but if I just have a short time to go for a walk, there are plenty of places nearby that I can explore – and each season brings different views and sights.

Today I walked around a lake, saw geese and ducks, took photographs of buildings and trees and on the way through the town on the way home saw three ‘blue plaques’ – telling of people who have lived here – fascinating facts about each of these… intriguing!  Maybe I’ll find out some more information about these men featured on the blue plaques – I can appreciate even more then their stories, their time living in the same place as me.

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Take a moment to think about your life, take a moment to think about how you can enjoy each moment of each day.  We may not be remembered with ‘blue plaques’ but it would be great to be remembered as someone who loved life and enjoyed each moment of their time on this earth.

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Incense – an introduction

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The term ‘incense’ originates from the latin term ‘incendere’ meaning ‘to burn’.  Incese is made from aromatic materials which release fragrant smoke when burned.  Incense is used in many ways – for religious ceremonies, ritual purification, aromatherapy, meditation, for creating a spiritual atmosphere and for masking unpleasant odors.

There are two main types of incense – ‘direct burning’ and ‘indirect burning’.  Lets look at these types:

Direct burning incense (also known as combustable incense) is lit directly by a flame, then blown out to leave a glowing ember that smoulders and releases the fragrance.  Direct burning incense can be in the form of incense sticks (or ‘joss sticks’), cones and pyramids.

Indirect burning incense is not capable of burning on its own and needs a separate heat source – usually charcoal.

The history of incense and its uses can be traced way back in time.  For instance certain Chinese cultures dating back to neolithic times have used incense and it is with the ancient Chinese where we find the earliest documented use of incense composed of herbs and plant materials in ceremonial rituals.   The Hindus adopted the use of incense from the Chinese.  Ancient Egyptians used incense both to cover odours and also for mystical uses as they believed the smoke from incense deterred malevolent beings and would appease their gods with its pleasant aroma.  Indeed resin balls were found in prehistoric Egyptian tombs in El Mahasna.  Some of the oldest references of incense can be found in the ancient Hindu texts – the Vedas, indicating that the use of incense dates back at least 3500 years and more likely closer to 6000 – 8500 years old!

Moving on in time Ancient China appears to be the first civilization who began the use of incense in religious worship around 2000BC.  The Babylonians used incense while offering prayers and incense spread from here to Greece and Rome.

Incense was brought to Japan in the 6th century by Korean Buddhist monks.  They used the mystical aromas in their purification rituals.  The high quality Japanese incense known as Koh was very widely used and 200 years later its use had spread from the monks to the Imperial Court.

So we can see that incense as we know it has a rich and varied history – today we can enjoy incense in its many forms with ease within our own homes and environments.

You may be familiar with the term ‘smudge stick’ – this refers to either a single herb or a combination of herbs, dried and bound with string in a small bundle.  Many cultures have their own traditions of which herbs were used in such smudge sticks with the traditional herbs such as Mugwort and Lavender being particularly popular.

Many different materials are used in the make up of direct and indirect burning incense – these can include:

Woods and barks – aloeswood, cedar, cinnamon, cypress, juniper, sandalwood
Seeds and fruits – cardamon, coriander, juniper, nutmeg, star anise, vanilla
Resins and gums – amber, camphor, copal, dragon’s blood (a plant resin), frankincense, myrrh
Leaves – balsam, bay, patchouli, sage, tea
Flowers – cloves, lavender, saffron, rose

So you can imagine the variety of fragrances that can be blended by the use of different materials.

At Lizian we’re pleased to stock a wide range of incense – both indirect and direct burning – indian sticks, japanese koh incense sticks, cones, resins, and essential oils for your home fragrance needs.  So next time you reach for the incense to light for whatever reason, to mask cooking smells, to create the mood for meditation take a moment to think about the tradition of incense burning and how it has evolved to what we know today.