Fishing Guide to the Stars starting 8.11.2011

“Thous dost talk nothing to me.”
The King to Gonzalo in Shakespeare’s The Tempest [II.i.166]

Folk remedies. As the heinous nature of Mercury Retrograde starts in earnest, here are some folk remedies from the the annals of Texas Folks Remedies.

Leo: Mark Twain’s Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer introduced me to “spunk water” as a natural, curative element. Along with cats, both dead and alive. (Mark Twain was Sagittarius, a Leo-compatible sign.) The water is useful in a number of other recipes from the Texas folk remedy page. The water is rainwater that’s been sitting in a hollowed out stump. I have to wonder if the moonshine is what lends to the efficacy of the water, or if it’s merely just stagnant, mosquito-infested, all-natural, rain-water. Can never tell. The recipes with “spunk-water” always struck me as a bit odd. Didn’t trust them. Dipping animal parts and washing human parts in the water never really worked in my mind. I could see others doing it, just not something I would undertake — or recommend — myself. The term itself, while I’m not enamored of the appellation itself, the phrase does paint a picture. The rest of the elements, combined in the folk remedies, the various incantations and emollients, I’m guessing the real active ingredients were something besides water that was sitting in an old, hollowed out tree trunk — since it last rained. Spunk-water, like that, is just the catalyst, the carrier. What really happens is due to other, active ingredients, the most potent being the imagination. Imagine Mercury problems slipping away. Imagine Mercury problems being drowned in that water. This Mercury retrograde is about catalysts. Catalysts and carrier, vehicle and touchstones.

Virgo: “Rosemary is for remembrance,” from memory, accuracy not verified or fact-checked. See fine print for details. Anyway, the quote is from Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as Ophelia descends into madness. As the lore goes, this one stretches way back to the Greek pantheon, with Minerva associated with rosemary. Let’s update this material a little, as some recent research has shown that rosemary contains carnosic acid which makes it neuro-protective. That means rosemary protects our brains from free radicals. With this Mercury Retrograde, you need all the help you can muster.

My old trick? After a dip in the creek, I’d tie a spring of rosemary, rather, just tuck a shoot of rosemary into my hair tie, and let that add an aromatic blend to me smelling like creek water. On hot summer’s day. August. South Texas. Hot. Rosemary grows wild and thrives in my local environments. Loves water and hot sun. Then, as it turns out, the aromatic blend really does have antiseptic and neuropathic medical qualities. Old wives tale verified by science. Virgo: find some rosemary. It will help with your memory pathways, during the coming weeks. Any extra protection is good now. Anything helps, and like Ophelia in her madness? Rosemary.

Libra: “My mother used to use vinegar for everything. Cured it all.” Really, and how did that work? “I twisted my ankle, it was vinegar, like a towel soaked in vinegar, wrapped around the sore ankle, and then, it was wrapped in brown paper.” Seriously? I understand vinegar is an astringent, a natural barrier between germs and our bodies, but for a strained ankle? Didn’t make sense. I kept thinking, I don’t want to sound like a smart-aleck, but I kept thinking, after all that vinegar, would this all smell like a salad? Vegetarian, Austin, it all sort of fits. I’m not sure that the acidity of vinegar will work for your particular Mercury ills, but as an idea, as place to explore, as a single option and a starting point, the homeopathic, naturopathic path would be a good start. I have other suggestions, as well, but for starters, a vinegar solution is a good place. For Libra. Saturn woes and ills, like aching bones, might really be solved with vinegar. Or maybe, you’ll make a tasty salad dressing.

Scorpio: One of the more common (East Texas) field greens is the famous “Poke Salet.” Famous from the song, I’d hope. Poke Salad Annie. The pot liquor from “poke salet,” the liquid left over after boiling the leaf? That’s supposedly good for curing any number of skin irritations. What I’m looking for, astrologically, is a cure for Jupiter. Jupiter, usually the lucky star, and for a small percentage of the Scorpio clan, it will be a very lucky star in the immediate future. For the rest, though? Not so much. Jupiter is like the various skin irritations, treated with poke salad. Or a poke salad solution. Juice. Poke salad juice. Before you look too far, there’s a simple, easy, and most important, cheap, cure to the Scorpio ills. Instead of looking further afield, look right under your Scorpio snout. I realize that naturopathic, homeopathic remedies might not be your cup of tea, but a similar concoction is known cure for the seven-year itch. Poke Salad. Poke Salad Tea. Try it. Might help with Mercury’s irritations.

Sagittarius: “I’m okay, my abuela rubbed me with an egg.” Actual T-shirt for sale in the markets here. There. South Texas. When I was researching Texas folk remedies, that one popped up several times, in a number of different variations. It’s common enough to me, and I’ll mention it among friends, and I’ll get a number of different responses. A roll of the eyes, an exaggerated sigh, a knowing nod. All works. The way it works, under the right incantation and supplications, make an offering to the correct gods — or saints — depends, and then a natural, free-range egg is rubbed over the person. I’ve seen it done a couple of different ways, and I get a little nervous that the person will crack the egg on my head, but the process, after the egg is passed, rubbed, or massaged over the various body parts, the practitioner will crack that egg open. “Look,” pointing out spots and bloody membrane, “evil spirits sucked out of your body. You’re better now.”

Capricorn: Several folks cures for a cut, include, read Ezekiel 16:6 to the victim. Place coffee grounds on the cut. Rub soot into the wound. Dust the cut with flour. Rub the cut with suet. Put sugar on the wound. Pack the injury with grease. Apply the tissue from inside a chicken’s egg. If the victim doesn’t respond to the home remedies, the victim can always be prepped as meal, too. This Mercury Retrograde is occurring in a place where some kind of simple, home remedy will help. I liked that last list of ways to fix a cut, stitches and bandaids were left out. Not that it matters. I still like the idea that the victim, if the bible verse and condiments don’t work, the victim could be prepped as a food item. This Mercury is going retrograde in a place that makes relationship stuff uncomfortable. Brings up old cuts. Old wounds. Maybe pack those old wounds with some food? Sounds like a good Mercury RX RX for Capricorn.

Aquarius: One cure for asthma, a Texas folk remedy, is to drink goat’s milk. As cure for what’s wrong with Aquarius, even now? A good folk remedy might prove to be better than anything else. Drink goat’s milk. See if it helps. I think the cure, the folk remedy, its source ought to be obvious, as diary product in some children can trigger an allergic reaction which then triggers the asthma. So the solution is a simple one, and for once, the homespun remedy works. Here’s the problem: it won’t be real goat’s milk, or real goat’s milk cheese, or real “something” that’s going to solve the universal Aquarius issues. What the point is, though, look outside the conventional realm for answers and solution. Goat’s milk: it’s not just for breakfast anymore.

Pisces: One cure folk remedy for Arthritis is to pack the painful joint in cow manure and wait. Given that this Mercury retrograde was set in motion and highlighted by its opposition to Neptune’s transit from Pisces, I think that the distasteful nature of the cure might prevent your Pisces self from complaining about the problem. There was another cure that involves using bourbon, twice or three times a day, maybe not much, but taking a shot of bourbon about three times a day, I doubt I’d notice that I had an ace bandage full cow manure. So the Texas Folk Remedies seem to work, if you take them with a grain of salt, “Cum Granis Salis,” I think is how that really works.

Aries: One of the most powerful herbs in my little bag of tricks is garlic. Garlic is reported to be a powerful antidepressant, garlic can supposedly relieve high blood pressure, strengthens the heart, fortifies the blood, and as a bonus, it should ward of vampires. In some of my limited cooking experience, I’ve used garlic, and I appreciate what it does to food, it adds a dimension in flavor otherwise not available. Add to that it’s purported curative effects, and this is one good, secret herb. The problem with it, and what I can’t reconcile while Mercury is retrograde is how the garlic can be an antidepressant and smell the way it does. In cooking, it’s great, as a condiment or seasoning, wonderful. As a natural deterrent, it’s one of the most powerful. But in inter-personal interactions, it can be offensive. I didn’t learn this until later, and it was a pretty girl, breathing heavy garlic in my face. No guess how that went. Still, it made me think. As one of nature’s finest antibiotics and heart-healthy medicine, how does that work? Now that Mercury is thoroughly messing with all the little details in the Aries world, and as Mars adds to the layer of the fray, it might be a good idea to consider garlic. Lots of it. It’s healthy, it tastes good, it’s great on just about anything, and more important, it might keep those other people at a good distance. Maybe this stuff does work.

Taurus: Associated with the throat in traditional astrological medicine, this Mercury Retrograde pattern plays out with an odd item. I’m seeing, like, possibly a sore throat. The folks remedy that was passed onto me? Honey and vinegar, in warm water, maybe a tablespoon or more of honey, natural and un-purified, if you can find it, then maybe half a cup of apple-cider vinegar, and then, on top of that, what I do, I mix in some tap water, and nuke it for a minute to warm it all up. Sometimes warm up the vinegar and water first, then stir in the honey. The honey, as it turns out, is really a very good antiseptic. Coats the throat, kills the bad germs, and if it’s all-natural, it has all the good stuff, too. Hard to imagine this kind of an ailment occurring in the middle of a hot August, but if you feel yourself coming down with a soar throat? Honey, apple-cider vinegar, and some warm water. I’ve also heard that tea is good, but I haven’t personally tried that yet. Can’t say. I can say that Mercury Retrograde will try to interfere with your communication, you’re spoken word.

Gemini: One of the more interesting Texas Indian folk remedies was applying a piece of the offending element to the injury. Treat snakebite with a piece of the snake that bit you. Most of the venomous snakes in this part of the country are pit vipers (copperheads, water moccasins, rattle snakes), and as such, their venom tends to be hemotoxic, attacking blood and tissue. The idea idea is a sound one, no doubt born out of experience, but this is a folk remedy that won’t work. The best way to treat a snakebite, especially a Texas snake? Anti-venom. There are very few deaths now associated with snakebites. Oddly enough, what I can learn on the inter-webs, almost all rattlesnake bite victims are male. Go figure. Because the way the venom works, applying a piece of the snake, while might be emotionally rewarding, it won’t really do anything to the original wound. However, as lore gets passed down, that’s one that won’t die. The idea of applying a piece of the snake that bit you, to the wound. What idea has your Gemini self held onto, maybe a holdover from a long, long time ago, when Indians roamed the plains, and yet, even though it makes some sense, that Gemini idea is factually wrong. Like applying a pice of the snake that bit you to the wound. Might make you feel better but it won’t lessen the effect of the poison. Mercury is backwards, what are you holding onto, as cure, that really doesn’t work?

Cancer: One of the earliest Robert Earl Keen (Capricorn) songs was about Copenhagen. The snuff. Tobacco. Snuff for dipping. Cowboy habit, at one time, not a particularly appealing habit, but popular among rural youth. Cowboys and their ilk. As Mercury etches its way through Leo, moving backwards, this is like one of the better folks remedies I’ve heard of: for a bee sting (wasp, paper wasp, mud dauber, etc.), a pinch of tobacco snuff will ease the pain. Supposedly, folk lore, the tobacco spittle, that contains the active ingredient that helps remove the sting. Or helps alleviate the pain from the effect of a bee sting. How good is it? I’ve not tested it myself, so I can’t say for sure. It’s been a very long time since I’ve dipped snuff. I’m not really willing to give this one a spin, not myself. If someone else has been stung by a bee (or similar flying stinger thing), let me know if a pinch of snuff really does work to relieve the pain. From what I recall about tobacco leaf products, it might be a mild analgesic. If you know it works, you can get back to me on that. In my mind, though, the idea of snuff as an intentional dressing is just gross. Yucky. Awful. Very unappealing. I’d just suffer with the bee sting, myself. Cure, is the cure worse than the injury? Valid Leo question. Happy birthday. You really are the mightiest of the fixed fire signs. Best, no really.

About the author: Born and raised in a small town in East Texas, Kramer Wetzel spent years honing his craft in trailer park in South Austin. He hates writing about himself in third person. More at

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  • Sarah Smith Aug 11, 2011 @ 10:43

    Cancer is a fixed fire sign? Really??

  • Matthew Alexander Aug 11, 2011 @ 12:35

    Hemp Milk. Passable taste, proteins, no eigenstates like soy.

  • Kramer Wetzel Aug 11, 2011 @ 12:56

    Ah yes, my Mighty Leo rhetoric. Cancer is Cardinal. Leo is Fixed.

  • Kramer Wetzel Aug 11, 2011 @ 12:59

    @matthew, can you mix hemp milk with Kaluha and Vodka?

  • Charlotte Switzer Aug 11, 2011 @ 20:07

    These are getting hard to understand, Kramer…

  • Kramer Wetzel Aug 11, 2011 @ 20:14

    Home Remedies…

    (Mercury is backwards — rub an egg over it)

  • Kramer Wetzel Aug 12, 2011 @ 20:53

    @Charlotte – the egg trick, if it is an all-natural free-range egg, then the bloody membrane is part of it, hence the hoax.

    But you didn’t hear it from me.