Crafting Sweet Dreams
edited: Sunday, September 01, 2002
By Carly J. Wall
Posted: Sunday, September 01, 2002
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Comfort pillows or dream pillows have been created and used for centuries. Today, we can use them to ease our troubled spirits in these stressful times.
By Carly Wall
Once called comfort pillows, dream pillows have been used down through the ages to soothe troubled sleepers into restful sleep by the addition of aromatic herbs stuffed into little pillows tucked under the head. As the person tossed and turned restlessly, the herbs were crushed to exude their heavenly scent and since the herbs that were chosen were those proven to induce sleep, it would be no time that the restless person was soon sent off to dreamland. Historically, herb pillows have been used since Biblical times, when women filled them with mandrake and placed them under their loved ones' pillows to ward off evil spirits. In centuries past, herb pillows of mugwort were reputed to induce dreams of one's future lover. Even in Native American culture, dream pillows were used medicinally, and for religious purposes. The medicinal usage of herbal pillows was popular in medieval times, as monks would craft them to help soothe the sick in their sickrooms. They were used to help congested lungs, and to ease stressed patients worried about dying of the plague. Today, you might imagine herbal pillows relegated to the role of decoration, since when we talk about them, often what comes to mind are the decorative little fluffs of silk pillows covered in lace and ribbon. Actually, they can do both. They can decorate a bedroom, or guest bedroom, and yet have the attractive quality of being really useful.
Certain herbs have aromatic qualities that really affect our sense and psyche. It falls between the realm of herbalism and aromatherapy. The aromatic molecules are inhaled and sent directly to the limbic portion of the brain, which is the seat of our emotions, sexuality, creativity and emotions. Scent really does have powerful physiological effects on our bodies and minds. If you want to test this, merely purchase some pure and natural lavender essential oil, and that of clary sage. Place a few drops on a light bulb ring, light the lamp and watch the effect over a room full of people. Don't be surprised if you soon hear snoring!
Studies have proven that dreaming is essential for a healthy mind. Dream images and actions are the subconscious mind's way of communicating with the conscious, of working out problems, pointing the way to solutions, entertaining and enhancing creativity.
In a stress-filled world we can still use dream pillows to find that ever-elusive comfortable sleep. It is not only quite effective, but also much more gentle on the body than a handful of sleeping pills. Dream pillows work quite well on children too, aiding in chasing away nightmares if you so decide to add the right herb for that, calming restlessness, helping ease and comfort in times of sickness.
It's really very easy to create wonderful little dream pillows for yourself, your family or friends. You first have to decide which herb or herbs you want for a particular blend, and then you just have to create the pillows to add the herbs to.
Let's start out with the herbs. Here are a list of herbs and combinations you can choose from. Make sure you stay away from these herbs, as they can cause the very problems you are trying to cure:
Russian tarragon---frightening dreams
Sage---creates a lost feeling or sense of imprisonment in dreams
Tansy---violent and terrifying dreams and also headaches when awakening
FOR RESTFUL SLEEP, PEACEFUL DREAMS USE ANY OF THESE HERBS:
Aniseed---(Pimpinella anisum)---this fragrance is relaxing. The odd ability to inhibit men from dreaming, especially good when you need relief from stressful situations.
Balsam fir---(Abies balsamea)---pleasant and refreshing. Clean, good for when you have respiratory problems or colds.
Catnip--- (Nepeta cataria)---Use sparingly to help send off to restful sleep. Eases babies sleep.
Chamomile---(Chamaemelum nobile)---good for children and elderly. Soothing, good for insomnia. Sweetly scented.
Cinnamon---(Cinnamomum zeylanicum)---proven to bring on erotic dreams for men. An exotic addition to the dream pillow.
Clary Sage---(Salvia sclarea)---sleep-inducing, and helpful with depression and stress. Proven to create a balance calming tension and taking away fatigue. It helps to deepen the breath and opens the chest from a tight, constricted feeling. Especially effective when combined with eucalyptus and pine for coughs, throat infections and bronchitis. If you've been moody, indecisive and confused, this is one to add to the blend. It allows inspiration to flow.
Clove---(Syzygium aromaticum)---Adds a refreshing spiciness to the blends.
Frankincense---(Boswellia carterii)---this is a resin which comes from a small tree, which is steam-distilled to make an essential oil. It deepens the breath, is anti-infectious and very soothing. Helps energy to flow and is tranquillizing. Stills the mind and causes the spirits to soar. Takes away stress and bad feelings. If you have been oppressed or weighed down by heavy thoughts, add a few drops to your blend.
Hops---(Humulus lupulus)---the flower from a perennial vine. Helps soothe to sleep.
Jasmine---(Jasminum officinale)---induces exotic and romantic dreams for women.
Lavender---(Lavandula spp.)---eases headaches, relaxing. Adds warmth, feelings of safety. Lavender scent cools and calms. It encourages full expression of creativity.
Lemon balm---(Melissa officinalis)---relieves depression, insomnia, tension and anxiety.
Lemongrass---(Cymbopogon citratus)---soothes and creates an exotic feeling in dreams.
Lemon verbena---(Aloysia triphylla)---makes you fly in your dreams.
Marjoram, sweet---(Origanum majorana)---eases nervousness and restlessness during sleep.
Mint---Mentha spp.)---adds clarity, color and vivid images to dreams.
Mugwort---(Artemisia vulgaris)---it is said it helps you remember your dreams. Increases clarity and at the same time is relaxing and soothing.
Rose---(Rosa spp.)---loving thoughts and peaceful dreams. Helps in easing grief.
Rosemary---(Rosmarinum officinalis)---used down through the ages to chase away nightmares and ensure good sleep. Works well with lavender, roses, mugwort, hops. Deters remarkable dreams. Helps concentration, lethargy, strain, emotional exhaustion.
Thyme---(Thymus spp.)---encourages dreams of creativity and flight. Once thought it allowed the dreamer to see fairies. Good for any weakness or congestion of the lungs. It is an expectorant, antiseptic and tonic. Helps depressive states, which have to do with withdrawal, pessimism and self-doubt.
Use a combination of dried herbs in equal amounts according to the scent. Enhance scents by adding several drops of essential oils (not too much, you don't want to overwhelm the senses!). Mix well, place the mixture in a sealed plastic bag for 24 hours to let the scents blend. Or just use 1 or 2 particular herbs/scents. I've had good results with just lavender and rose petals.
After you've crafted your dream pillow, make sure to store it during the day in a plastic bag so that the freshness of the scents is assured. You can use the dream pillows up to 2 weeks before you must renew your herbs.
CREATING YOUR DREAM PILLOW
The simplicity of the dream pillow is up to you. In Victorian times, the pillows were made very fancy, with silk fabrics and lace. For quick dream pillows, you can use cotton handkerchiefs (place herbs in middle and gather ends, tying with string). For our purposes, we'll create a little cloth "pillow" you can make as fancy or plain as you wish. After you've created them, filled them with your blend, you then tuck them inside your pillowcase at night for a good night's restful sleep.
First, choose a decorative piece of fabric (about 5 inches x 12 inches). Cotton is preferable for it's "breathable" qualities. Fold the cloth in half inside out. You now have a 5 x 6 inch size of fabric. Stitch up the sides and turn right side out. Fill with ˝-3/4 cup of your dream blend. Sprinkle a few drops of essential oil of choice. Fold down the open end and stitch this closed. Add decorative lace or ribbon as you please.
Peaceful Sleep---when you've been worrying yourself silly, use this blend to relax and sleep comfortably:
˝ cup mugwort
˝ cup lavender flowers
˝ cup rosemary
3-4 drops lavender essential oil
1 Tablespoon each:
Add several drops eucalyptus essential oil or frankincense.
Soothing Dreams: When you want to just get away from the world at hand and create worlds of your own:
˝ cup chamomile
˝ cup mint
˝ cup rose petals
Add a few drops of chamomile essential oil or clary sage. To make exotic dreams, add one of the spices---cinnamon or clove.
Romantic Dreams: A good way of letting all those pent-up passions out!
4 whole cloves
1 Tablespoon mint
1 cinnamon stick
˝ cup rosemary
˝ cup lavender
˝ cup rose petals
Add a few drops of jasmine essential oil.
Creative Dreams: for when you are having trouble with a particular project or have had trouble coming up with a solution to a problem, why not dream of the solution?
˝ cup lemon verbena
˝ cup rosemary
˝ cup clary sage
˝ cup hops
Add a few drops of frankincense essential oil.