Star Anise is an herb most know on sight for it's unique appearance. Also known as Illicium Verum, Star Anise is comprised of 8 to 10 carpals (seed pods) from 1 to 3 centimeters long. Its most commonly seen in its dried form which has a rough, brown appearance on the outside. Inside, are shiny seeds of light brown to bronze. The pods radiate from a central stalk creating its star-like design.
|(Star anise plant)|
|(Left: star anise; Right: anise)|
|(Pot of melon and star anise jam.)|
A popular spice with the Chinese, it is one of the spices in the popular Chinese '5-Spice Powder' which is comprised of Cinnamon, Fennel Seeds, Sichauan Peppercorns, Cloves, and Star Anise powder. In the East, they use Star Anise in confectioneries, and meat dishes (pork and duck mainly).
The Mandarins chew on the whole dried fruit as a post-prandial (state of drowsiness , and relaxation after a meal) digestive, and a breath sweetener. Star anise is also used to combat rheumatism and colic, and is a common flavoring in medicinal teas, pastilles, and cough mixes.
|(Left: Anisette; Right: Absinthe)|
|("The Absinthe Drinker" by Pablo Picasso)|
|(Group of Japanese women burning incense.)|
(In terms of the "four directions", they can vary depending on pagan leanings, preferences, etc., and are all up for interpretation. Here are some directional basics: North (Earth); East (Fire); South (Air); West (Water).)
|(Sixth Chakra, a.k.a. '3rd Eye Chakra')|