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Time to Prepare for Summer | 4 Hot Weather Beauty Secrets

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Summer is coming soon, so it’s time to prepare your natural remedies.  The stuff from last year may be expired or used up.  Here are some recipes to help you survive the heat.

Rose Vinegar

Rose vinegar is an excellent sunburn treatment.  To make it, just fill a jar or bottle halfway with dried roses, and then fill it with cider vinegar.  Let it steep for a week in the refrigerator or a cool dark place.  It will last for a year.

Oshun Body Oil

To keep your skin soft and smooth in summer, you need a body oil that you can put on right out of the shower while you are still wet, that conditions your skin and holds in moisture.  This recipe also helps to protect you a bit from fungus and other germs that tend to spread in the summer.

In a 1/2 liter bottle, put in about 50 ml of chunks of unrefined shea butter, a teaspoon of honey, and a tablespoon of aloe vera gel.  If it’s raw, boil it down first.

Then fill the bottle halfway with olive oil.

Then fill the bottle almost the rest of the way with sunflower seed oil.

Add 5 drops of helichrysum essential oil, 3 drops of rosemary or tea tree oil, and 5 drops of sea buckthorn (oblipicha) oil.

You can also add whatever other scented oils you like.  I like to add the Oshun devotional oil.

African Deodorant Cream

Many southern women swear by cream deodorant.  In some places, you can buy this in the store, but if you can’t then here’s how to make your own.

In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon powdered alum, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 1 cup melted coconut oil, cocoa butter, or shea butter.  Whisk them together very well until they are creamy.  You can add scented oils if you like, but make sure they are safe and won’t burn your underarm skin.  The alum and baking soda are antimicrobial enough, so oils that do those things aren’t necessary.

Anti Chafing Gel (also hand sanitizer)

If you get seasonal chafing, this recipe will help a lot.  Use it once to three times a day after cleaning your creases to keep fungus and bacteria down.  Use it every day starting as soon as the weather starts to warm up.  Remember not to get any on your mucous membranes.  If you use it on your inner thighs, you may want to follow this with some body oil, shea butter, or very heavy hand cream.  This recipe can be extended, but be sure to use at least 60% of it is alcohol.

  • 2/3 cup rubbing alcohol, strong vodka, Everclear, or other alcohol above 80%
  • 1/3 cup aloe vera gel
  • 5 drops helichrysum essential oil

Put this in a pump bottle and shake it very well.  Then use a bit after you shower.

 

Oshun’s Beauty Secrets: Annatto Lipstick Recipe

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In celebration of the 2011 festival of Oshun, I will be posting a few of the beauty “secrets” of the African diaspora.  Today’s installment is a recipe for annatto lipstick.

Annatto is a mild spice native to South America that is used often as a coloring for foods and as a clothing dye.  It is also used in traditional body paints and to heal the skin.  It has antimicrobial and healing properties that are nearly unmatched.  It has a mild saffron-like scent, but is not too hot.

Lipstick made from annatto will come out a sheer but perfect dark red-orange that looks excellent on just about anyone with a bit of red in their complexion.  Indeed, annatto is often referred to as “the lipstick plant” or “lipstick tree”.  Annatto lipstick is easy to make, but it will be messy if you’re not careful.

You will need a small saucepan, a glass jar, some cheesecloth or old cotton scrap of fabric, a funnel, a mixer or food processor, and whatever cosmetic pots you’d like to store it in.  This is a recipe for a big batch, but you can give the extra away to friends or save it to use as a body mask for summer or sports chafing.

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz annatto seed powder, or smashed annatto seeds
  • 8 oz shea butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Put everything into a saucepan, and melt on low heat just to the point that it is hot but you can still see quite a few chunks of shea butter.
  2. Whisk with a wire whisk for about 3 minutes.
  3. Cover the pot and allow it to cool to the touch.
  4. Pour the entire contents, even the sludge at the bottom, into a food processor with the plastic mixing blade.
  5. Process for about 3 minutes more.
  6. Arrange the cloth in the funnel and the funnel in/over the jar.
  7. Pour the contents in the food processor through the cheesecloth.  This may take some time and scraping.  Take your time.  Some people like to additionally pour it through a sieve first, then the cheesecloth with the funnel.
  8. Cover the jar and allow the oil to set for three days in a cool, dark place but not the refrigerator.  Under the sink is fine.
  9. On the third day, empty the jar into the food processor, this time with the whipping blade.
  10. Spoon the lipstick into whatever containers you like.

These make great gifts for anyone you know who likes natural makeup or who gets raw skin in the heat.  To use it as an ointment or body mask, just smear it on the desire area.  If you have allergies, do a patch test first though.  It is very red-orange though, and will stain your clothes.  So wear red if you have to wear clothes while it’s on.

As lipstick, it not only makes them a pretty color, but it conditions your lips.  If you have smoker lips, it helps to make them more pink again.

Because it turns things yellow or golden in small amounts, and it is so good for healing and making the skin beautiful again, it is one of the favorite plants of Oshun.  You can consecrate your annatto lipstick to make yourself more attractive while wearing it.  It is especially good if you are in sales.  People will hang on your every word.  Make some and try it out!

Oshun’s Beauty Secrets

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honeycombOshun is the West African deity of feminine beauty, prosperity, and dance.  Her children in the traditions as well as solitary practitioners with a strong affinity towards her are uniquely attractive, charismatic people.  Though many of their beauty secrets are indeed secret, some are open to sharing with the public for the purpose of bringing more joy into the world.

Water

You may need more water than you think.  The standard dose per day is 8 glasses, and this is enough for a 100-120 lbs. woman with relatively low physical activity.  If you are heavier or more active though, you’ll need more.  Here is a convenient calculator to find your exact minimum.

If you aren’t getting enough water, then the sugar in your blood can be like sand paper in your blood vessels, slowly breaking them down.  It is harder for your body to get rid of poisons.  Your arteries are also more easily clogged, and you’re more prone to blood clots, liver problems, and many other health issues that are preventable simply by drinking more water.

Though you should avoid sugary drinks, natural fruit juices are a great way to get water, vitamins, and minerals at the same time, and quickly.

Honey

Honey is wonderful for the skin and hair.  It helps your skin and hair to hold in moisture, and kills bacteria that clog pores.  If you tend to chafe in the summer, a weekly coating of honey for 20 minutes before a bath or shower helps to soothe raw and damaged skin.  When you get a cut or scrape, use honey instead of antibiotic ointments.

The best sort of honey to use for beauty is wild African honey. It is darker and a bit thinner than the sort of honey you buy in the grocery stores.  You can add a little to your body oil, but take care not to use too much at a time, or you’ll attract bees.  It doesn’t take much to be effective if you’re leaving it on the skin.

Hot Dancing

You may notice that when Oshun is riding someone, or people are dancing in reverence to Oshun, it resembles soukous or belly dancing.  This is because dancing with the pelvis is not only seductive but healthy.  It works your core and abdominal muscles without scraping your tailbone on the ground.  It shapes your body to give you a more hourglass figure and perky bottom.  It also strengthens the muscles that support your internal organs, which leads to easier childbirth, less painful menstruation, easier weight management, and for men, greater virility.

Exercise is good for you in general, but taking the time to focus on the core and pelvis is extremely important.  So if you haven’t already, add belly dance or soukous to your daily routine.

Oshun, Ochun, Oxum

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Oshun as Romantic Love

Oshun as Romantic Love

Some say that in Africa, before western influence, there was no such thing as romantic love.  The truth is much more complicated than this.  There was romantic love, and it was well recognized.  It was just referred to as intense lust, so in daily life, familial love and admiration was given a higher priority.

People did respect that intense lust so much though, that they named its Orisha: Oshun.

Attributes

  • Sacred number: 5 and multiples of 5
  • Colors: yellow, yellow and green, yellow and amber/honey/champagne, yellow and blue, yellow and white, honey, champagne, amber, shades of yellow until standard orange
  • Domain: beauty, prosperity, feminine charisma, female sexuality, sweet things, oratory skills, pride, romantic love, sexual attraction, dance, feminine wiles.
  • Symbols: yellow hearts, peacock feathers, mirrors with yellow, bronze, or gold frames, yellow sashes, yellow headwraps, yellow belts, yellow skirts, yellow headbands, fans, fans made from peacock feathers

There are many apatakis about Oshun’s ways and antics.  Many of them were to teach people a lesson about the nature of beautiful women.  Some, like the story of Oshun and Iroko are cautionary both for people who take the promises of beautiful women too seriously and those beautiful women who procrastinate or forget promises they’ve made to get their way.  Some are epic like the ones about Oshun defending Shango in a way that people didn’t expect from such a beautiful woman.  Some are tragic like the story of Oshun’s fight with her mother Yemaya.

Oshun is regarded as vengeful if crossed, but otherwise extremely generous.  She can be impulsive and sometimes overly flippant about things others take more seriously, but she is not evil.  She just is the way she is because she can be.

Her domain is the pleasures of life, and often with great pleasures come great pain.  Life would however, be extremely boring and dull without her.

Oshun is very popular these days.  Though it is good to honor her, one should bear in mind that there are other female Orishas too, and other good and important things about being a woman than being pretty and lusted after.  Some people tend to forget others, and this is understandable, but I somehow don’t think Oshun appreciates the paradox and conflict that giving things to her that belong to her sisters Oba and Oya creates.  So be respectful of her and what she likes, and don’t appropriate things to her that she doesn’t like.

As an example, there’s the new feminist standard for “beauty” that people try to push on her.  It is a good thing to go to Oshun to make yourself more beautiful, but if you go to her to try to look like the skin stretched over bones and silicone ideal from Hollywood, it’s not going to work.  The more you go to her, the more you are asking her to make you look naturally beautiful, not synthetically beautiful.  You’ll end up looking aerobics instructor beautiful or dancer beautiful, not skeleton beautiful unless you’re Gothic and that’s the legitimate aesthetic goal.  If it’s the latter though, Maman Brigitte is going to do more for you in that since fat cell shrinkage rather than just distribution needs to happen.

Gay and intersex persons who are outwardly male but inwardly female, as well as crossdressers who need to go there occasionally can benefit greatly from communing with Oshun.  It will help you to gain more of the essence of feminine grace and beauty.

Origins

Originally, Oshun was the Goddess of the Oshun river in Osogbo, Nigeria, but as her followers increased and spread, so did her duties.  She came to be recognized in just about all pleasant, drinkable and bathe-able freshwater springs, fountains, streams, creeks, and rivers around which grew palm and eucalyptus trees.  Almost everywhere there are adherents of Vodun and similar west African systems, there is at least a fountain dedicated to Oshun where offerings are brought.

To this day in Osogbo, there is an annual festival of Oshun where people from all over the world go to honor her.  Prospective priests of Oshun also go there to gain the blessing of the ancestral priests.

Offerings to Oshun

Wild LettuceOfferings to Oshun should be taken to fresh water streams, ponds, lakes, and especially rivers.  If you can’t get to one, a fountain or pool will do.  Oshun loves natural sweets.  She loves honey the most of all sweet things.  All food offerings to her should be coated with honey or have honey in the recipe.  Just remember to always taste a little of it first.

She likes pumpkins, butternut squash, and other yellow, golden, and orange fruits.  I’ve had very good results from giving her golden pears and apples.

She likes yellow flowers, and ambery, honey, sweet smells.

Of the more savory things Oshun likes very much, wild lettuce and eggs are the most popular.  I have also had good results from offering delicacies such as baby corn, hearts of palm (ethically cultivated), artichoke hearts, and white asparagus.  She likes the finer things.

Some offer her sea food.  I don’t particularly like this idea unless you know you got it from a traditional fisherman or diver.  Oshun and Yemaya wills can become conflicted within if someone contributes to the destruction of the oceans for the sake of looking more pious and extravagant.  So if you feel you must give sea food to Oshun, do so, but make sure you were actually led to do that.  Do some readings to confirm.

If you’re returning freshwater fish or plants back to the river or a lake, please check with local wildlife authorities beforehand.  Sometimes people have given catfish to a place and they have taken over, or this happened later when the area was closed off.  Only return animals or plants that may take root, to their native area.

Something new for the science savvy is the offering of Brassica Carinata, also called Ethiopian mustard or y’abesha gomen.  They have pretty little yellow flowers, and are very attractive to honey bees.  Their greens make excellent mustard greens dishes.  According to researchers in New Zealand, they also naturally filter nanoparticles of gold from the ground.

Love Spells

Since Oshun is the Orisha of romantic love, she is often called upon for love spells.  Although in Vodun proper, these wouldn’t really be called love spells but love petitions, workings, or offerings, they do basically the same thing: draw love from a specific person or help someone to attract a lover.

If you have a love working pending, there are things that you can do to help it along.  Read this article for things you can do to increase the success of your current love working.

Oshun Incense

Oshun enjoys sweet smelling, fine incense, but you must make sure it is of the highest quality that you can afford.  If you are handy with the spoon, you can also make your own.  This is the recipe for a basic devotional incense, adapted for the western kitchen.

  • a pinch of cinnamon or cloves for Eshu
  • 10 spoonfuls fenugreek
  • a handful of louisa
  • 5 eucalyptus leaves
  • 5 spoonfuls sandalwood powder (African camwood or Baphia nitida if you can find it)
  • a spoonful of yellow mustard seeds
  • a small handful of myrrh or copal
  • a small handful of dragon’s blood chunks
  • 5 gold leaves or a dash of gold dust

Crush and powder everything as well as possible, consecrate, and keep in a cool, dry place.

Oshun Oil

The basic recipe for Oshun’s devotional oil, again adapted for the western kitchen.  All of these ingredients should be dried

  • A 1 inch cinnamon stick, 3 guinea peppers, 3 English peppers (allspice), 3 coffee beans, a vanilla bean cut into 3 pieces, or 3 cloves for Eshu
  • 1 liter of sunflower oil
  • 1 ml vitamin E oil
  • 1/4 cup fenugreek
  • 1 handful of louisa or dried orange peels
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 5 freshwater pearls or cowrie shells
  • (optional) 1 tablespoon honey
  • (optional) 5 gold leaves

Put all of the other ingredients in a large jar or bottle.

Pour the sunflower oil over all.

Close the jar for 5 months in a cool, dark place.

Strain before use unless you like it “chunky” looking (which I do).

Click here for an article on some of the uses for Oshun oil.

Fashion for Oshun

One thing you should do for Oshun that carries some of the weight of an offering is wear yellow clothing, especially on Saturday, which traditionally starts at sundown Friday night and goes to sundown Saturday night.  The same day is an auspicious day for Yemaya as well, so it’s good to wear a combination of yellow and blue.

Oshun is famous for her beautiful head wraps.  So take the time to wrap up nicely on Saturdays as well.

Don’t skimp on the accessories.  Wear earrings (clip on or magnetic if you’re not pierced), necklaces, and five rings on your fingers, or five bracelets on your arms.

Attracting and Maintaining the Blessings of Oshun

Oshun is very generous to those who keep her ways, and do things to glorify her.    If you need more love and prosperity in your life, here are things you can do.

Be grateful for your beauty.

We are not all beauty queens or hotties or whatever, but we all have a little beauty in us.  We should never take it for granted.  So as much as you can, take care of your physical appearance.  Love your skin, your organs, your bones, and do what you can to keep them healthy.  You may not own the finest clothes, but what you have should be clean and in good repair.  Basically be well groomed, even if you think nobody is looking.  Oshun is looking.

Be grateful for your material possessions, and clean your home.

The price of having things is that you must take care of them.  As best as you can, keep a clean home.  Your bed should be a clean and comfortable place, since Oshun is the Orisha of romantic love.

Take care of those around you.

Help others to maintain their beauty and material possessions.  If your friend is ill or unmotivated, help them clean their home and keep themselves healthy.  Be positive about it, and not too preachy.  The idea is to spread joy, not judgement.  Feed people.  Host meetings to treat people when you can.  Be generous.

Dance.

Oshun lives in dance.  So once a day, turn on some music, and move.

Basically, be the hands of Oshun in humanity.  Spread joy and love where you can, and try to make the world a more beautiful place.