Thursday, November 29, 2007

Spiral Traditions - Launch

Greetings all .....

This post is to announce the new blog Spiral Traditions.

It will be a sister site - a collaboration between myself and my kindred spirit Monica who will soon be launching her services ('Walk in Beauty') as a ceremonialist.

The purpose of the site will be to announce local circle dates, updates, and musings for our local community. It will also be a place to link people together for Red Tent Temples, Rites of Passage information, Gatherings to know about, Insight on Goddess Traditions, and to write about Spiritual thoughts. I am deciphering it from this blog which is dedicated to Herbal Wisdom. It is also intended to plant the seed of Spiral Traditions itself, a name I have given to represent my personal vision of a new/old culture.

So Mote it Be!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Practical methods and Making connections





I'm not a practical herbalist. Or am I? What's impractical about using our own body's responses to a plant as vital information. It's no more or less practical than a fox using it's eyes or nose to hunt a rabbit, really.



I am thinking today that most of what I feel, write, and do as an herbalist may not translate well to others. So I come here today to out myself on they way I do things. I may not be lavish with my words because the two sides of my brain may get into a cat fight somewhere along the way. Bear with me.



Most of what I do involves a lot of questioning and listening.


When I get 'sick':



First I locate it in my body. Is it in my head, knee, nose, etc. This question can be seen as locating the bodily system/organ it pertains to. I make sure to identify what type of human form it is effecting; mucous membranes, bones, skin, waters, liver, muscle, kidney, etc. This could further be deduced into an element (earth air fire water) or dosha (vata pitta kapha) depending on what system you are most inclined to use.



I ask: what sensation is it? This question could be viewed as getting to the energetics of the problem. Is it hot, cold, stuck, growing, shrinking, vibrating, piercing, dull... etc. The sensation will infer clues about what action the ailment is taking.

This might be telling information if there are analogues to the person's emotional or personal experience. For example, a UTI might imply that the person is very pissed off. I liken Lyme to a giving up of one's power. Something chronic like back pain might imply one's inability to feel supported.


I ask: What am I craving? Sweet? Salty? Liquids? Rest? These are so important. Sweet may be interpreted as a need for sustenance, whole grains and B vitamins, a more stable lifestyle, or more rootedness. Salty may mean you need minerals like kelp and nettles provide. Creativity may need feeding and fertility (of body or mind) may also need attention. Sharp liquids and vinegars may indicate a need for liver, gall bladder and digestive attention among the many other benefits of sour and bitter tastes. Lethargy or frustration and anger may be at play here.

Aromatic, spicy and highly flavourful lends to remedying emotions and self esteem as well as skin and digestion.



I am getting carried away with the ins and outs. Really there are many books begging to be written and read on the topic. What I really want to demonstrate is how I go about attaining information and just a hint of how I deduce things.

My intuition kicks into high gear. Having a pretty strong bond with a handbag full of multi-useful herbs helps, since I can quickly locate the vibration of the plant and match it with the person - often myself or my family but sometimes a friend who is inquiring. The next question I ask is: what plant will strengthen this person? What plant nourishes the afflicted systems? What plants will provide utmost nourishment to this person?



Sometimes I will get clear answers. Sometimes, not. When the not occurs, I go through my garden, or somewhere outside, and ask. Usually I will come across something that just calls me. I may or may not know that plant.

If I know the plant - I can decide how to use it. I may have something at home dry or prepared that I can use. If not, I see if I can harvest it from that spot and of course do so with reverence and a gift.

If I do not know that plant - I sit with it. This is one of the hardest for people because they simply cannot turn off time or their busy brains long enough to do so.



Once past those two blocks, just sit. Introduce yourself. Introduce your purpose or question if you like. Offer a compliment. Breathe. Breathing is one of the most intimate acts you can do with a plant. It is a tangible, real exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and carries real benefits. The plants may elicit images. Don't take them for granted. The plant may show you rubbing your skin, or smashing it up and putting it on your feet covered with socks, or sleeping with the root in your pocket, or chewing one single leaf. It may tell you to stop saying yes or to spend more time reading. The plant may ask you to call your father or to let yourself cry. Plants don't edit themselves for our benefit. They speak truth.

Plants do not have the same limits or self-conscious habits that people do. Just listen. Then, barring you have come across a deadly plant, do it. Receive healing - you're asking for it!

If you want to take the more cautious route - write everything down in a journal so you can come back to it when you're ready to take action. Then go reference the plant in at least four places.




When you gather information from references:


Gather the scientific name, traditional uses and doses, parts of plant used, and for how long it is consumed or used topically. What are the energetics of the plant? Is it stimulating, sedating, nourishing, or drying? How is the plant prepared? This is so important. You cannot expect a tincture to do what an infusion does. You cannot expect a salve to supply what a kelp and burdock stew will. You also need to know what time of the year to harvest and how to do it ethically. You may enjoy finding out correspondences such as planetary powers, or which Goddess the plant is affiliated with.


If you are sitting with what you know to be a prolific plant and relatively safe, you have a lot of room to play and experiment. Take good notes.


Some plants I consider to be such good friends I can call on them to help me with nearly anything and they will. I have spent a lot of time with these plants, years, getting to know them, harvesting them, growing them, finding them in the wild and offering soil enriching gifts, and singing and praying to these magnificent spirits. I talk and listen, ask questions and give praise. I take the time to cultivate a safe and vibrant relationship.


If I am in a place where I cannot hear myself or am too sick or impatient to do any of the above?




MAKE SOUP. TAKE A BATH.




Then do it.


Sometimes an herb will come to me in dreamtime. It may be a faraway plant only available in spirit form. That is good. Let it come to you and help while you sleep. I often have dreams where Jasmine flowers line the background or Usnea drips from the forest as I walk.

Thank it for showing up for you.




Don't take herbs in capsules. I only invite capsule takers to use Milk Thistle in that way and that's it. I would still encourage that Milk Thistle be ground and eaten on food. Capsules are a big waste of time, energy, and a risk on your health.


Muscle test. This technique (I learned from my amazing Mom) is invaluable. Try it. Think I am a quack if you like, but I for one enjoy being in touch with and response-able for my own health and healing. I am not going to try and explain it here as there are more comprehensive explanations out there to be had. I will list a few links as a spring board.








To summarize:


1. Where is it in my body?

2. What sensations does it create?

3. What emotions or personal issues mirror this ailment?

4. What am I craving?

5. Journey to and with a plant including breathing. Take good notes.

6. Research and reference.

7. Make soup, take a bath, sleep on it.

8. Muscle test and make potions.


Happy Healing




- I invite questions to further discuss these ideas. This is roughly how I go about coming to conclusions in regards to treating and caring for myself and I realize it is not entirely cohesive - but indeed that is my internal process. It moves around erratically until answers that feel right jump out at me. How do you do it? How are our journeys different or alike? What vital pieces am I missing? ..........................












Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Herbal Preparations (workshop handout)

How to make basic herbal Preparations




Nourishing Herbal Infusion:
One ounce by weight of dried plant material; nutritive herbs and often the leaf such as Nettle, Red Clover, Red Raspberry leaf, Oat Straw, Comfrey leaf, Mallow, Violet leaf; placed into a quart sized mason jar or French press. Pour just boiled water until filled. Let steep overnight or at least four hours to withdraw the vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals. Drink throughout the day and feel great!

Tea/Tisane:

Pour hot water over teabag or baggie with herbs inside. A tisane is most useful for delicate flowers or leaves and highly aromatic herbs that diminish with heat. The medicine here is mostly the volatile oils and not the minerals and vitamin content. Examples would be Chamomile, Lavender, Mint, Jasmine, Green Tea, Calendula, Sage flowers, Sage leaf, Roses, Bee Balm leaf and flower, Hyssop.
Let steep between 5-20 minutes depending on plant and desired strength.

Decoction:

A decoction is the simmering of a denser plant part for longer in order to withdraw the deeper medicine. Roots, barks, and dried berries are good examples. Simmer your herbs for at least an hour on low heat. Add more water and continue with the same pot herbs for three rounds.

Syrup:

Simmering down herbs until the water is reduced by ½ or ¾ yields a concentrated water extract. To this, add desired sweet syrup/s of choice such as cherry concentrate, brown rice syrup, honey, or molasses. Endless variations can be made. Keep in mind if your syrup is made with ingredients that will need refrigeration. For example syrup that is made with 50% honey and a tablespoon of vinegar or vodka will need refrigeration less soon than a syrup with maple syrup.
Adding mineral-rich vinegar to your syrup will add nutrition and help preserve it. An herbal syrup made in a simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) will usually not need to be refrigerated.

Herbal Honey:

Probably my favorite preparation of all is herbal honey. Gather some of your favorite tasty healing herb such as Lavender, Bee balm, Sage, Hyssop, Rosemary, or Thyme. Be sure there is no moisture on it. Place it coarsely into a jar. Cover it with good local raw honey. Allow at least two weeks to infuse before using. If you have used good honey you will not need to refrigerate it, honey is a natural preservative.
Inverting the jar once a day will help keep the plant material submerged and aid in the infusion process (and help to prevent fermentation)



Herbal Vinegar:

One of the very best ways to keep absorbable minerals in your diet. Add fresh or dried plant material such as Dandelion, Mugwort, Rosemary, Violet leaf, or Nettle to a jar with a plastic lid. Metal lids will rust from the vinegar. Cover with good quality Apple Cider Vinegar. Allow to infuse 4-6 weeks. Some folks strain the herbs out but I personally like to eat them. Pickled Dandy blossoms are delicious, and so are pickled Burdock roots!

Herbal Tinctures:

Herbalists have many varied ways to make tinctures. I prefer the old-fashioned wise woman method for fun and simplicity although I do make some adjustments depending on the plant. You can always consult a Materia Medica if you are not sure.
Loosely pack a jar with your plant material, weighed if possible. Pour vodka to cover. Let steep 4-6 weeks. Indefinite shelf life. Store out of light and heat.
Some adjustments that I make are for blossoms like Red Clover, St. John’s Wort, Roses, and Goldenrod, which I tincture in Brandy, sometimes with a little honey added.
Echinacea requires higher water content so I tincture this in brandy as well or just use a water preparation. The list goes on … but to start with you can make simple tinctures and you will get good medicine.


Herbal Oil:

Gently fill a (clean, dry) jar with fresh plant material that has wilted for a day or so to evaporate excess moisture.
Cover with olive oil or jojoba oil
Cap and Label:
Common Name
Latin Name
Part of plant
Fresh o dried plant material?
Date
Menstrum
Store out of light and heat while infusing
Strain through cheesecloth or muslin after 6 weeks
For dried herbs or fresh herbs with higher water content: slowly warm plant/oil combination over double boiler throughout the day uncovered. Strain and bottle.

Herbal salve:
Melt 1 ounce of beeswax per ¾ cup of oil, in a double boiler
Remove upper pot and dry off the water thoroughly
If adding essential oils or vitamin E do so now and stir
Pour into heat proof salve containers/jars and let cool completely before capping.
Label

© Ananda Wilson http://www.amritaapothecary.com/

Monday, November 26, 2007

Questions to ask before harvesting a plant

Questions to ask and answer before harvesting and using a plant.

Be certain you have a positive ID - OR be certain it is not a deadly plant. The most deadly plants in New England are both in the Umbelliferae family.

NEVER take more than ten percent of a stand of plants.

Never harvest endangered or at risk plants. For a list see United Plant Savers on the web.

Don’t take the parts, or all of the parts, the plant needs to reproduce or grow back.

Don’t tell the neighborhood about it.

ASK the plant’s permission. Take the time to sit with the plant, naming your purpose and asking for the plants blessings. Then you may harvest.

THANK the plant. Provide compost, water, cornmeal, tobacco, or something nourishing to the plant in return. Prayer and Song are included here.

What part of the plant should I use/harvest?

How much should I use?

How often?

How should I prepare it?

What time of the year should I harvest?

Make certain that if you are harvesting aerial parts of the plant that you are harvesting on a perfectly dry day.
Make sure it is legal to harvest at that place and that it is not sprayed or compromised.

LOG your preparations as much as possible – journals are indispensable. And don’t be afraid to ask these questions to the plant and to yourself while sitting with the plant. You can back it up later with books, but you’ll be surprised how informative plants and your own intuition are.


What’s in a label?
~Common Name
~Latin Name
~Menstrum used
~Part of plant used, how much, fresh or dried
~Date
~Moon phase optional
~Quantity ~Use/purpose

©Ananda Wilson www.AmritaApothecary.com

Monday, November 5, 2007

Red Tent Temple Oils

In preparation for the Red Tent I made a set of Herbal aromatic oils. These are my contribution for the day; my donation; for women to use while they recharge in the tent. I made four blends based on the Goddesses that I have come to know well recently:
Artemis ~ Inanna ~ Ix Chel ~ Morgan Le Fay.

I can't wait to use them myself!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Dreamwort





She, like Inanna, is a Goddess of many names. ............Mugwort, Cronewort, Moonwort, Black Sage .........
She is the shapeshifter, the birther, the sorceress, the omnipotent Midwife. She is Artemisia Vulgaris. She shines her Moony underside like Sheela Na Gig, shameless, striking, healing. She weaves her roots like fierce threads of a timeless quilt that holds the stories and memories of women and mothers and midwives since the very beginning. She is the keeper of the womb. Guardian of any element. Bringer of vision. Weaver of magic and of sisterhood and of radical self acceptance.

Her fragrant command clears the senses and brings the spirit home. Her tough love bitters demand healthy blood and guts. Her silvery flesh touches us with the Moon-fingers of Artemis, protecting scathed skin or ceasing the foolish itching of ivy. Her taste released in steaming water lulls the heart into dreamland, where epiphanies live and souls remember wholeness.

Her chopped up leaves love to be soaked all 28 days in a good apple cider vinegar, for her green bones are strong with calcium and minerals. She readily gives this gift to us, laying herself across our meals in tangy surprise of how good it feels to nourish ourselves to the bone.
She dries on a table top or dangling from a beam, easily in a matter of days. Her fingers curl up into rest while she awaits her next request. Should a bundle be made from her body, she will burn gracefully in smokey homage to all the witches burned before. She holds smoke powerful enough to cast protection over any space, and evoke transformation of the deepest kind. Her Moxa holds the key for many sessions of healing. Her heady smudge a direct route to our deeper selves.

Her stems, long and wispy, can be crafted into a besom of magic. sweeping away old beliefs and brushing new joys into life. She pleases children's fingers who love to create. Dreamwort reminds me of my own dream, of how life could be, of what changes I want to manifest for women and families today. She leads me to my dreams and remembrances, and then dares me to bring it into reality. She never denies the truth of our visions. She embodies health, wholeness holiness, hope.


That is of course what she does, create, this magic lady of many names and faces, Maiden, Mother, and Crone, my very favorite local plant and spirit friend, introduced to me by my very own Mother.
Talk to her, this Green Wise one, see what gifts she holds for you. She's powerful, yet approachable. Fierce, but not scary. Strong, but never a bully. Loving, unconditionally, wildly. She grows everywhere, she's sure to find you sooner or later.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cleavers; bumper crop!

I found this beautiful cleavers while walking up the hill looking for other things and I just could not resist. It was so succulent and perfect! I think it likes the cool weather reminiscent of spring. Some of it was even blooming.
Cleavers, Gallium aparine, sometimes called Lady's Bedstraw, is a supreme lymph ally. My favorite actually. I use it when my glands start to get frustrated or sore, any time of year, and for any reason. Tonsil inflammation responds well to Cleavers when added to the protocol. I've used it for food allergies with great success, and in tandem with Yarrow for kapha-pitta's who get 'stuck' symptoms but whom shouldn't be heated up too much.

I love love love this plant. I love the way it reaches out to grab you with a gentle cleaving hug as if to say "Stay, sit here a while, talk to me". I love how my kitty cats come in with little cleaver burs on them, like tiny fairy pranks. I love how bland and sweet the tincture is, like oatstraw, it immediately calms and nourishes. I think it a lovely addition to those using Violet for lymph and breast issues.

I'll take a teaspoon of tincture in water at a time, though some may feel great with less. I like to put it up fresh in both apple cider vinegar and alcohol, one for adding to food and the other for when I am dragging or to keep in my car.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ozark Shrub!

I've had this on my to-do list for probably two years and I can't believe it took me that long. I first learned this from one my favorite herbalists/teachers, Tina Marie Wilcox, who i have mentioned previous.
This old favorite of the Ozark healers is a veritable panacea. It's used for tummy aches, colds, the flu, sore throats, coughs, and basically any common household ailment. AND, it's really yummy!
I made some today with my Microscouts, little 4-6 year old nature explorers who I teach every other week, and they were part amazed, grossed out, and giddy with fun. They really did taste it!

ALL it is, is half herbal infused honey, and half herbal infused vinegar. That's it!

Puurrrrfect for the chili weather.

Medicine Man

..............in the making. This is my son, macerating some beautiful fresh Elderberries for his hot pink lemonade. What a way to kick a cold!
The rest of the berries got smothered in honey.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

What it means to me






To be a Wise Woman Herbalist.
Upon preparation for teaching my workshop yesterday (a Wild Medicine Walk) I got inspired to try and articulate this, so I could print it out to include with the handouts.

How did I do? Did I forget anything?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~





What it means to be a Wise Woman Herbalist

To be a Wise Woman Herbalist means to carry a philosophy of wholeness and inclusion. We view the human body as a self-actualized ecosystem, capable of complete healing and regeneration. We believe that health is innately ever-present and continues through nourishment and love. That health is nourished through whole foods and plant medicine. We believe that illness is the body’s way of bringing information to our conscious selves. It is the language of the body. We do not believe that the body is broken and is in need of fixing. We do not believe the body is filthy and needs cleaning and purging. Illness is our Teacher not our enemy. Herbs are our naturally available healing, nourishing allies.

To be a Wise Woman Herbalist means to use locally available, abundant, sensible resources; to use herbs wisely for food and medicine, ethically harvested or grown, and to ally with them. It means that I am the ultimate authority on my health, happiness and well being and I ask my self first and last before making any choices. I choose to listen to my body’s cues, and to trust my body’s capacity for health. I consciously prepare whole, holographic medicines.

Wise Women Herbalists honor the plant bodies as living beings, and honor their gifts of sacrifice upon harvest. Gifts of food or liquid or something sacred is offered to the plant in gratitude.

Our philosophy or paradigm is manifested as a spiral symbol. Life, death, birth, and rebirth are all an equal experience and a constant. We all grow, change, shed old patterns, and recreate ourselves and our environments. We are part of Mother Earth, therefore we embody her patterns and cellular knowledge. Life includes all expressions and experiences and is in constant flow.

Favorite Books - TOP Herb books


My Most Favorite Herb/Plant Books ever:


~A Druids Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year by Ellen Evert Hopman
~Blackberry Cove Herbal by Linda Ours Rago
~Botanica Erotica by Diana DeLuca
~Botany in a Day by Thomas J. Elpel
~Chinese Tonic Herbs by Ron Teeguarden
~Common Herbs for Natural Health by Juliette De Bairacly Levy (and all her books)
~Healing Wise by Susun Weed (and all her books)
~Herbal Rituals by Judith Berger
~Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs by Gail Faith Edwards
~Plant Spirit Medicine by Elliot Cowan
~Shanleya’s Quest; a Botany Adventure by Thomas J. Elpel
~The Book of Herbal Wisdom and The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism by Matthew Wood (and all his books)
~The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook by James Green
~The Herbalist of Yarrow (a child’s herbal fairy tale) by Shatoiya de la Tour
~The Medicine Grove by Lauren Cruden
The photo is one of the boxes I pack first when I go to teach:) My security blanket should someone ask me a baffling question, and my comfort that all my plants are with me.

Favorite Books - TOP Herb books full list


The bigger list that goes with my handouts at least for now until I discover more good ones. I still don't have Isla Burgess' book.




~A Druids Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year by Ellen Evert Hopman
~Blackberry Cove Herbal by Linda Ours Rago
~Botanica Erotica by Diana DeLuca
~Botany in a Day by Thomas J. Elpel
~Chinese Tonic Herbs by Ron Teeguarden
~Common Herbs for Natural Health by Juliette De Bairacly Levy (and all her books)
~Culpeper’s Color Herbal by Nicholas Culpeper
~Healing Magic; A Green Witch Guidebook by Robin Rose Bennett
~Healing Wise by Susun Weed (and all her books)
~Healing With the Herbs of Life by Leslie Tierra
~Herbal Healing for Women and The Family Herbal by Rosemary Gladstar (and all her books)
~Herbal Rituals by Judith Berger
~Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants by Steve Brill
~Indian Herbology of North America by Alma R. Hutchens
~Kids’ Herb Book by Leslie Tierra
~Native Plant Stories by Joseph Bruchac
~Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs by Gail Faith Edwards
~Peterson Field Guides of North America (of course)
~Plant Spirit Medicine by Elliot Cowan
~Planting the Future by Rosemary Gladstar and contributing Authors
~Sacred Plant Medicine by Stephen Buhner (and all his books)
~Shanleya’s Quest; a Botany Adventure by Thomas J. Elpel
~The Book of Herbal Wisdom and The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism by Matthew Wood (and all his books)
~The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook by James Green
~The Herbalist of Yarrow (a child’s herbal fairy tale) by Shatoiya de la Tour
~The Herbalists Way by Nancy Phillips
~The Medicine Grove by Lauren Cruden
~The New age Herbalist (great photographs) by Richard Mabey
~Wildcraft! An Herbal Adventure Board Game by http://www.learningherbs.com/

Favorite Books



I probably should make a whole separate blog to note my current book phases. I go through them faster than I can blog, but i will try and catch up with some of my most favorite reads, both past and present. This is what I am reading now. I love Nancy Blair, I've been using her Goddess Amulets for almost two years now, almost every night, and they have brought me so much joy and profound insight. She does an amazing job of conjuring up the essences of the Goddesses in her many forms, and giving voice to their unique powers in ways applicable and empowering today. The above book is arranged by seasons, which I especially appreciate. When I start doing claywork and pottery, I plan to make goddess symbols on my vessels and honey pots, and perhaps one day I will create my very own set of Goddess Amulets!

Autumn Shrine





A little something my son and I have built little by little over this past week, while dad and sister were out of town. It's a sweet collection of our time together and an oblation to the turning of the year. And home to two very special wooly friends that we brought in from the road.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Tarot fun


You are The Moon


Hope, expectation, Bright promises.


The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.


The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.


What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I'm stuck on my first love


I've opened this 'new post' page quite a few times in the last week. The theme for this month's Blog Party is 'What is your first ally'. I've thought of about seventy. There is just no way to narrow it down. So I've taken the old fashioned writers block route and am just writing exactly what I am thinking and feeling without too much purpose. Perhaps that will reveal itself by the time I finish. Or not.

You see, I grew up in an Ashram, basically. Fairfield Iowa to be exact, the belly of the Maharishi movement, Transcendental Meditation and Ayurvedic Medicine in the Western World. Leaving my bad memories out, I have pages of memories containing plant medicine of some kind. And although I didn't really ally and journey intentionally with one plant until I was older, these imprints are just as lasting and profound, if not more.


At my favorite park, Hempstead Park, my girlfriend Corrina and I used to collect pillow-cases full of sourgrass. Chewing on this sour delight all the while, I remember the carefree, self-sustaining bliss of this bountiful, giddy harvest. And the power of a pure friendship with a female friend which has been something of a rare treasure in my life. This beautiful, clover leafed Sheep sorrel was my insurance that should I be lost like Ayla, I could get by.


Honey. I love honey. My mom bought me honey shampoo when I was just learning how to bathe myself. I loved smelling like honey. When I walk past my sweet honeybee hive today, I still feel the innocent wonder of the first smells of honey. I know Mother Earth holds bounty. I know she provides medicine.


Grass. My favorite picture of myself is of when I was about four or five, laying deep in the throws of a meadow green as can be, long, willowy grasses. Running through a meadow had to be one of the purest joys of childhood in Iowa. The sunkissed smell of hay, the wavering silver, green, silver, green, as the wind changed. And there I lay, smiling as Mona Lisa, contented in my neverland of green grass.


Mulberry's. My Mother and Father owned a ten acre parcel of unbuilt land. We would go there on weekends to plant fruit trees and my mother would mow sky clad. They would put a hay bail staircase up to the Mulberry tree for me. This tree had to be a hundred feet in my child eyes, raining with sweet berries forever. I would eat until my heart turned purple. For free. With no time limit. With no manners. with no limits. I was free!


Green Beans. My father is a Taurus. In other words, a master gardener. He grew the best organic green beans ever. I remember just sitting in the garden eating these little morsels all summer long, when I was about six. Yeah, I'm only to age six, sorry.


Then I started getting chronic bronchitis. This was around school age, and in hindsight I think it was a communication glitch. I was too shy too tell all the rotten people to fuck off. And I got it baaad. That spasmodic, gasping, barking cough, pain all down the sides of my neck, burning face, just miserable.

So Mom took me to the Vedic doctor. After taking my pulse, told me that I needed to take turmeric and honey every day, and that I had a week bladder and to watch that when I got older. The latter didn't help my bronchitis but I still remember that.

To this day I adore Turmeric/honey paste. It's lovely and soothing going down and great for the digestion. Even better if you can get fresh turmeric root! The taste is exotic and wonderful. I take it still if I get a bad cough. That was the first medicine I remember where I was aware that it replaced taking a pharmaceutical drug. Wow, I thought, I can eat roots and get better without poison. "There will always be an option" I remember noting - and this is an imprint that effects my philosophy today.


Chaparral. Sitting across from my Mom, some afternoon around age 8, I think. We sat at a small, round, card sized table, surrounded by the heady smell of Earth's depth. Slightly dry, slightly putrid, slightly burnt, and mildly sweet the way a spent goldenrod smells after a fall rain. Her fingers worked deftly, pushing the fragrant green-brown powder into clear capsules. I worked to match her. "They are taking this off the shelves". She said to me. "So I'm stocking up now, as much as I can."
"Why?" I asked. What 8 year old wouldn't ask that?

"Because people are taking too much of it and getting sick, and they are blaming the plant. So I am stocking up before they ban it."

"Oh." I reply. "But isn't that the humans fault, not the plant's? I ask.


My 10 year old daughter said the same thing to me, nearly word for word, a couple weeks ago in a conversation about Comfrey.


"Yup." She responded. "People have forgotten how to respect medicine and how to use plants for healing. So they are getting sick from it. This plant is Chaparral. A powerful herb that should be used with care, and when done so, can help heal a wound, a flu, and bad viruses. If you take too much, it is too much for your liver to manage."


"Oh" I answered. And my insides feel as though a portal has opened. I realize my Mother is ............. something.

A witch?

A medicine woman?

A secret healer?

Now I know she is just a Mom. Equal to all of that by birthright.


The smell was intoxicating, like a journey through the wet roots of a California river bed. I notice the iron patterns of the table beneath the glass cover where our fingers work. And up from the table is a corridor of old wooden shelves and packets of herbs hanging from racks. The shelves have jars and jars of herbs. I am in an herb shop, I remember. The bags are brown with a clear window in the front. And the bulk herbs are beautiful, magical, present. We brush our stained fingers off, trickle every last capsule into the packet, and bring our medicines to the old wooden counter, and check out.


Brahmi. Better known as Gotu Kola, is a child's dream come true if you have a parent willing to rub it into your feet. Being that I was a gymnast, my mother had ample excuses to massage me. And the Brahmi oil was my favorite - besides the creamy almond, honey flavored massage lotion that I later found out was a Kama Sutra cream (nice one Mom:). I loved the dark green glass bottle and the fancy sanskrit writing. I loved the thick, sweet green oil inside. Brahmi has a deep nervine quality, apparent when smelled or rubbed into skin, it soaks in like a warm cloak of serenity. Indeed my memories are embedded into my smell-memory as much as anything, but perhaps this particular unguent was one that brought me to one of my closest allies; Oil. I love to infuse herbs in oil. Olive oil, almond oil, coconut, jojoba ..... give me an oil and I will find herbs to immerse in it.

Those Ayurveda people you know like a LOT of oil. They like to drizzle it on by the gallons! So I was around a lot of folks walking around in oiled hair wrapped up in white turbans. And they all smelled so good! The vatas wafted a hearty Rose-Sandalwood .... the Kaphas smelled peppery and minty, and the pittas smelled light and cool, like roses and lemon drops. And the rosy glowing cheeks were shiny with fresh oil. I identified oil with nourishment, healthy touch, and radiance. And comfort.


Apple tree. It was my favorite climbing tree. The one who's branches I could reach and the closest to my house. The elevated wonderland where I first learned the word 'booty' from a neighbor girl and that it wasn't a small sock. Where I sat and ate powdered cinnamon from the spice cabinet and pretended it was my 'Medicine'. Where I sat and watched each season change. Where I could see over into the park where the sourgrass grew. Where lover's stopped to kiss not knowing there were eyes watching. I loved her knotted strong hands and sturdy arms. Her apple pie smell. My apple tree, my love tree.

And there are so many more. My inner books of beloved smells, tastes, healings, and mother made potions. Rose whipped cream. Four things soup, potpourri joints, and tonka bead necklaces. Horseradish/Osha tincture. Fresh Basil on everything. Damiana love elixir.


Mugwort Journeys.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Blessed Mabon

These are a few of my sacred wares that I 'purchased' (we used silver stones, shells, and little treasures for currency) from our Children's Mabon Faire. This was the best holy-day I've ever had.

It was a gathering of old souls and new friends, us and our spirited children, totalling about 20 of us. A perfect small community. We started out with the faire, a sort of re-enactment of a harvest market. The children made crafts and goods to 'sell', all good enough for a real faire and all indicative of their creative niche. My daughter crocheted Medicine Pouches, enough for every attendee to get one. She also made stick sculptures Andy Goldsworthy style and sold out of every one except our favorite, a sort of Labrys, which perhaps was strategically placed out of sight. My son made killer lemonade which everyone adored and needed on such a perfect warm fall day. The little lemon candle you see in the photo was the side benefit of each person's order, and they later adorned our feast table like a hundred fireflies in a row.

More beautiful wares were made by my friends children, sweet catnip bags for the kitties, amazing mint tea and tussie mussies, beautiful herb sachets for our home, herbal tea bags ready to comfort on a chili fall night, exquisite handmade herbal bath salts and infused oil for the body. Delightful incense, after meal herbal kits, tennis balls with anise for our dog companions, Lego sculptures, and an incredible pirate ship built by our five year old engineer! Did I miss anything? There was such a plethora of creativity and beauty from these children it was a sight to behold.

My dear friend, whom I affectionately call Demeter, blessed us with an incredible meal. She cooked organic, local, free range steak which was absolute heaven and worth extra meal blessings. She made Chili with andouille sausage and a pinch of clove, fresh green salad, tomato and mozzarella salad, curry wild rice, fresh corn on the cob, and I am probably forgetting something because by that time I was totally intoxicated by the richness of the day. I only regret not taking many more photos.

My husband blessed our meal with a beautiful passage from one of our favorite books:



We join with the earth and with each other


To bring new life to the land

To restore the waters

To refresh the air



We join with the earth and with each other



To renew the forests

To care for the plants

To protect the creatures



We join with the earth and with each other



To celebrate the seas

To rejoice in the sunlight

To sing the song of the stars



We join with the earth and with each other



To recreate the human community

To promote justice and peace

To remember our children



We join with the earth and with each other



We join together as many and diverse expressions

of one loving memory: for the healing of the earth

and the renewal of all life.



-U.N. Environmental Sabbath Program



~~~~~~~~~

During supper, our engineer, also a deft storyteller, told us the story of Persephone and the story of Pandora. Couldn't have been better!

And one of our little sprites ...... lost a tooth! She got an extra medicine pouch for that! A tooth pouch!

Then we feasted on homemade apple crisp, ripe off the tree and baked with perfect love by my very own Pop. My Godfather/stepfather who blesses my life in countless ways and with unconditional love.

At the beginning of the day, we drew a child's name from a basket, assigning each child to an Elder for the day, not their own parent. The sacred crafts (a charcoal drawing and the making of dream pillows) were done together, acting as a meaningful activity through which we could better observe our child. Later during ceremony we shared the innate gifts of the children that we observed.

We wished into the wishing gourd that watered our gratitude flowers.

Ceremony was at twilight and even more members of the community showed up, our young adults. My Mother brought her most special smudge wand which she made at the Women's Herbal conference, and blessed all who entered the circle. We called in the directions with fervor around a blazing bonfire. We shared the gifts of the children, spoke on the meanings of the Equinox, drummed, planted our gratitude flowers and wishes, and celebrated.


And of course what I can't capture here in writing, are all the in between moments; of flushed cheeks, hugs, moments of eye contact, and sheer joy that pulsed through each of us on this sacred day of yin and yang meeting in balance. The sun shone warm all day and the moon rose with sharp brightness after ceremony. All hearts glowed with fullness. The children played contentedly.

And we brought home goodies.



Friday, September 21, 2007

Blue Beauty

Can someone please tell me what this little beauty is? I thought it was lobelia, but no, no sharp heat in the nostrils. It's mild and sweet, like a salad green. Stunning in the woods, hiding under the brush like a shy maiden!

back to school - wild school



Ahh yes. Back to teaching at the Wilderness school which I blogged about once before. An amazing place to be wild, free, and learn from all of Natures wonders first hand. I have the honor of teaching the Jr. Herbalist program, part of the Friday program for homeschoolers. I get 10 eager, magnificent, brilliant young minds to unleash into the plant world. I am grateful to this place, a gift in my life and my children's.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's that time


...... to start making remedies. Folks are asking about congestion, sinuses, kid's colds, coughs, and the pending flu. I received an email for a lovely customer from 10 years ago, who has not been able to find a chest rub since that worked like mine :). How flattering! So of course I had to heed her request for more of my good old "Phlegm-Away". And I made extra for my own kids. How sweet the feeling to have something come around like that, to know that your remedies achieved some longevity, to know they were well received and remembered. I imagine how it might feel to watch it pass through a whole generation or two.
{Oh - and if any of you are actually curious enough to enlarge the picture only to be shocked by the words 'true wintergreen', don't worry. I don't even attempt to buy this anymore, it is actually a little bottle of real Wintergreen that I have been safely protecting for near twelve years now. Amazingly it smells as good as it did before. }

Divine Goo

I know this just looks like a plate of globby yuck. But if you could smell this divine goo you would see it through a different lens. This is freshly harvested Pine pitch, from my Aunties huge old pines in her back yard. The two trees were virtually gushing and I couldn't resist. This plate is only about 1/4 of what we got. We were sure to leave a coating on from each spot through, not to leave the tree raw.

The white powdery looking coat is where the sap had begun to dry out, the area where it was exposed to air. Th more mature the sap gets, the harder it gets. Some Red Pine sap that my son recently found was nearly hard, and not nearly as sticky. I'm guessing it was at least five years old. It takes a long time.

Usually what I like to do with the pitch is make smudge. I make little rolled balls and 'flour' it in Lavender or Rose powder. This helps keep it self-contained and keeps your fingers from gluing together. Plus it smells really sweet. When you have finished rolling them, lay them out on a wax-paper covered tray, indefinitely. If you jar them up you will have a jar full of melted sap and good luck getting it out. The little balls are easy to pick up and add to a hot rock or glowing ember to bless your home or ceremony. However, I don't recommend using it in your fireplace or wood stove. To easily remove the sap from fingers or floors or clothes, apply rubbing alcohol.

Another superb use for this wonderful gift of the trees is for splinters or slivers. Our beloved Kiva has dealt with this recently only with glass. Sucks it right out and keeps the infection at bay. A wound or cut in the woods is treated swiftly with an application of fresh pitch. Blisters can be helped when nothing else is around and you're mid-hike. Gum infections are also traditionally helped with sap - although I have to say it's not palatable. Natives also used it as glue and water sealer for their canoes.

Amazing stuff.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

We'moon Date Book


Finally - this year I sprang for one. I've been coveting this incredible work of art forever and never got one. Then, last year, my close friend bought me an awesome calender and so I didn't need one.
This year I wasn't about to let it go ... so I ordered way early and got the early bird deal. Can I tell you how excited I am? SO excited! It has to be the most amazing, beautiful, moving, and empowering book to date. (pardon the pun) I love the poems, the art, the colors .....
mm. It's not '08 yet but I take it out to peek sometimes anyway.
To get one of your own (and you WILL want one) ..... go HERE and since the website does not do it justice, I may have to take a few photos of my own to post. (is that legal? probably not.)

Book of Shadows

This is my Sacred recipe book. My third one, actually, and it's almost full too. It doesn't really have spells, or strange languages, or rites. It's full of herbal recipes, and most of them are for applying to your body, not taking internally. For me, this really is my book of shadows. It's where I put my magic concoctions for health and beauty, healing, and recipes I make to put out to the world in exchange for goods or money. Recipes that I've used only once, say, for healing from a vasectomy or a neighbor with a herpes outbreak. And even recipes that I legally don't even own, such as for my private labels.


I Love this book. I treasure it like an heirloom jewel. It's indispensable. It's proof that I live my life in love with the plants and life as a sensory, self-loving journey. And in service to myself, my Gaia, my family, and any who may take something I make and remember the wisdom of our Grandmothers by it. It's my way of keeping the lineage alive.

Green abrewin'!


And what's more ... I'm brewing up a fresh pot of Comfrey leaf infused oil. I can't live without it! And since Paypal won't let me sell it through them .... it's up to my beloved patrons to some to me and ask for if they need any. Oil or salve.

Nuptial Flight

Beauty the Herbal Way .......
This week I've been a busy bee, making very special gifts for my Niece and her Bridal Party. These have to have the best of the best ingredients ... and ones that will please any woman since I don't know any of the ladies there (she lives far away). So, here's what I've done. A very seductive "Lakshme Bath Crystals", with Rose petal powder to give it a pink hue. It smells amazing, my infamous Cocoa-spice blend that makes you smell like a mug of Chai. Plus, it's great for both sexes .... so go on! Preserve water - bathe together! (now, I may have to go back and re-do these labels. Most people spell Lakshme with an "i".... we'll see.)
The little vials are my all-time favorite perfume blend. Simple, yet complex and utterly perfect, it's Turkish Rose Otto and Indian dark patchouli. There's nothing like it in the world I'm convinced. So the bride and all her ladies should have some.
What's a lifetime ahead of luscious smooching without a Ruby pout? So of course I had to make up a special batch of my Crushed Rubies Lip and Cheek Glow - which I've been making for near ten years now and it's still a classic must have. I think I have one in every room and every bag, it's just yummy stuff.
Then there's the beauty cream, a French Lavender recipe with extra cocoa butter of the unrefined kind. Soothing and feminine.

The Bride gets extras. She gets the bigger size of the perfume and bath salts, and she also gets a beautiful body oil and a Nuptial Flight Sacred Yoni Balm. Happy Honey Moon :)
I took special joy in this order, since it's my most favorite to make the really sensual, seductive herbals, but also because of the nature of the order I could opt-out of writing ANYthing on the label other than the name and a pretty picture. This alone makes the product look way more elegant. The struggle of forcing an ingredient list much less business info or user instructions/disclaimer stuff onto little bitty labels from a stone age computer program is NO FUN. So I like these prettier, more mysterious labels. They all know I spare no expense on ingredients - natural and best!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Echinacea ~ post #2

Fall has begun dressing herself for the season. The golden plumes lay heavy on high heels and long green legs. The Russian olives dangle like earrings. The leaves are showing off their streaks of green/gold, green/yellow.... green/red, as if the wind came by overnight with a hairdressers bag and made-over the trees that lined up for her along the road. The sun is comforting and warm by day, and the moonlight cool at night, conducting the orchestra of insects and the dance of the winds and tides.
The harvests are here, peaking with all her splendor; tomatoes, lemon balm, basil, parsley, and so many more, satisfying our hunger for abundance and beauty. Yet once it is all picked - it starts to wane. The last of the good weather, the last of the longer days, the last of the garden fresh vegetables. The herbs dry and get packed away into jars or various preserving liquids until the annual viruses knock. Reaping also means sacrifice. It reminds me that whatever I collect must be properly stored and cherished. I am grateful for the intellectual harvests of the last year, which I have internalized deeply in order to pick from it what I need when I need it. I am grateful for my emotional harvests, the lessons I've learned and the friends I have gained. For my healthy, happy family. I'm grateful for my herb harvest, albeit smaller this year than previous, what I didn't harvest is what flourishes strong in my garden only to grow heartily on into next year.
And I let go.
Things are changing for me. And although they are changes I have requested, it is still a change. Which means letting go of old expectations, habits, patterns, and allowing new ones to thrive. But when those old patterns show up - expecting to be obeyed - it's only human nature that I react with a sense of grief. Saying goodbye to ways that once brought immense joy, self-actualization, and success, is hard. In the moment it's hard to remember that good things are on the horizon and will serve me well. Changing relationship to career, work patterns, and most poignantly my self-identity has struck a chord of mourning in me.

So as I lay, sobbing uncontrollably in the middle of a sleepless night, I sob deeply into the roots of my Echinacea plant. She called me into the garden from my dark porch step, asking that I shed my tears into her lap and let it all out, into the soil, into the arms of Mother Earth and daughter of the stars. And so I did, my back to the cool night air and my face cradled by the large green leaves. Her flowers are so tall, I felt completely protected. She seemed to drink in my wretched potion of feeling like a fertilizer.
I think about mourning, how it really means "to remember". I give thanks for the good things I remember from before. And I remember my new goals, new wishes, and new ways.

In the morning, my throat hurt terribly. I knew I was coming down with a cold. So I collected some roots and leaves from her and have been drinking the infusion of it throughout the day, along with some other cold fall allies, Osha (which I use rarely - but I could use some bear energy right now), ginger root, and licorice root. And I am taking my lovely oregano tincture. I don't think my cold will last more than a few days ...... if I take care enough to grieve properly and allow change. It is annually a hard time for me anyway, as I vehemently despise winter and become resentful that I have to suffer through so many weeks of cold weather before my green friends and warm sun return.

And so, I feel Echinacea is a tremendous ally for grief. Personal identity crisis, and seasonal adaptability.

Blessed be.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Decanting magic



Yesterday and today I've been going through my jars of tinctures that have not yet been strained. I have a lot of tinctures that I put up, and then just left ......... decanting them now means they will have extracted for thirteen moons :). I missed quite a bit of harvesting this year. The St. Johnswort was scarce, and mugwort, yarrow, and Goldenrod I have in plenty.

The little jar in the photo that is empty, was filled with wild oregano and vodka. It grows in abundance around my home. I made it to stave off colds and viruses. I expected it to be very hot and spicy, like the fresh plant tastes, but to my surprise, it's exquisitely sweet! Very much like my Red Bee Balm (Monarda Didyma) in fact. I can see clearly how herbalists would liken them to each other. The tincture is so lovely to take, and carries a gentle yet determined medicine; opening the throat and relieving start up congestion. I could also see it being helpful for an earache.

I strained two quarts of beautiful crystal green Yarrow blossom tincture. In the past I have often put the yarrow and alcohol into the blender, yielding a potent, cloudy green-brown tincture. This time I had carefully cut all the blossoms and little leaflets off of the stalk and tinctured them whole. I am curious if it carries any difference. It *feels* like fairy tincture. This is a medicine my whole family uses quite often. It's my daughters main herbal ally - she uses it for cooling and toning herself down (she is your classic Pitta-Kapha) especially in the Spring season. She gets flooding nosebleeds, stomach fermentation, and hot feet. If she can't throw herself into cool water to swim, Yarrow does the trick. We also use it for colds, flu, sore throats, and muscle injury, and topically for wounds if needed. Susun Weed recommends a spray to repel mosquitos, which I have tried somewhat but can't vouch entirely because I can't resist adding other ingredients - so I don't really know which one is working.

Mugwort tincture was even older - I found a tincture I made two years ago! Sheesh! That got strained too. I love this Artemisia for right before my Moonflow, when my womb swells with pressure and tension. It warms and releases muscle tension in the uterus, while toning the blood and digestion. Not to mention it's lunar energy helps! A mugwort pillow helps to deepen already potent dreamtime during menses - but be sure to ask the plant for guidance or she may just get into mischief!

And a big beautiful quart of pinky-hued red clover blossom tinctured in brandy. Yum! We love this for it's life nourishing properties and for keeping the libido healthy. I recommend the nourishing infusions on a regular basis - but the tincture has it's merit too. It's lovely when I am feeling too masculine - and the world is wearing me down. It reminds me that *soft* is strong, and seems to beautifully restore my resilient nature and femininity. Not to mention that red Clover is a bosom buddy .... a superb breast tonic. I love the entry on Red Clover in my beloved book: Herbal Rituals by Judith Berger .

Last but not least, Wormwood tincture. This is a valuable staple for us, if anyone has terrible stomach pains or indigestion, 4-5 drops of tincture does the trick. Great for long car rides. I also use it as part of a lyme protocol, as an anti parasitic and alterative, again at a very low dose, about 3-4 drops 2-3x a day. It seems also to help keep joints cool, taking down low grade swelling or aches. And I wouldn't be surprised if she helps with fertility - she seeds and sows prolifically! I had one plant last year - and thirty this year! A bundle of this luminous plant, makes a lovely silver wand for the mantle or altar. Athena would be proud.




Monday, August 27, 2007

Filled to the Brim

The Women's Herbal Conference is kind of like eating a humongous feast after starving. And after three days of it you are so full that you just check out for a while. I've been in a daze all day, happy, stuffed, and of course wondering how I can change the world.

Returning to reality with new perspectives is wonderful - an agent of change - but also very hard. At least for me. Returning to the guzzling cars and obnoxious facades that people wear is hardening to the spirit and saddening to my body of hope. Retreating and being slow on this beautiful August day, tinkering through the Lemon balm and Rue, is exactly what I need before embarking on the new year.
One of the most remarkable things about the WHC is the fact that my Mom and I go together. I think this was our fifth time. It's truly a blessing to strengthen our bond and to carry the lineage of herbal wisdom. Not to mention - we have a blast. Next year, we will be a clan of three generations, when my daughter joins us for the adventure!

Of the nine workshops I took, I realized that only two of them were herbal. Ha! But hey - a good herbalist is an empowered one, right? Yeah! Plus, in previous years I have taken many of the herb classes already. So I took the really juicy ones from my most favorite teachers.

I took two with the incredible, transformational ALisa Starkweather, on 'Becoming Butterfly Woman' and 'Feeding the Fire to Move Mountains'. YES they are as powerful as they sound and incredibly meaningful. GO to any of her workshops if you ever have the chance.
Susan Grimaldi, Shaman and Native Elder, taught a class on Trance-Dancing (where I had the honor of merging with frog) and a beautiful class on The art of seduction - which was very deep and reverent (not a come hither class) and included a shamanic journey where we created our true vision of ecstatic union. Absolutely empowering and luscious. And applicable!
I also shook and shimmied myself sore in two classes with Ann Marie Licari {I can't find a website for her, sorry! She's out of Vermont} who totally rocks. I'm usually disappointed when I go to a belly dancing class because I just can't seem to find the range of motion I need for it. But I think I got some good basics of it down and my wag started to look a bit more sparkly. Yay for me! I might be able to belly dance after all! I can't wait until I can ripple my stomach like a deep see jellyfish. ooohhhhhh.
Now the Mead Making Workshop given by Desiree Cohen was really a hoot. The mead's just seemed to keep coming around ... blueberry, rose petal, dandelion, pear, cranberry wine, and anything after that I can't remember! I know there was a lot of laughing, ye-hawing about Cowboys, (which turned out to be carboys but you see Desiree has a Boston accent) and long syphoning contraptions with delicious liquid flowing from it. It's a really good thing the class came with a detailed instruction booklet. Now I just need to check my hive again to see if the honey flow is ready!
And what two herbal medicine classes did I take, you ask? Ahhhh, yes.
Well, one was a tincture making class with Jill Frink Thompson (scroll down) who now practices out of Vermont not Asheville - and I loved her class. It cleared up a few simple things that I had been confused on. Jill is an exceptional teacher - articulate, high spirited, relaxed and down to earth, ready with fantastic knowledge and understanding of plants and people. I will definitely take more classes with her in the future. (And Jill if you happen upon this blog - let me know how I can update your web link! XO)
And I ended it with a BANG - a Triple Goddess Herbs class with the One, the Only, the Green Goddess herself, Susun Weed. My favorite Teacher of all, full of sharp insight, hilarious animation, deep rooted wisdom, and thorough, rich, applicable herbal knowledge. She starts and ends her classes in a chant which we all participate in joyfully, a tradition I'm thinking about taking on for my own classes. We learned about Cronewort, Motherwort, and Maidenwort, and about ourselves at the same time. These are three plants I love and use regularly, so it was nice to go deeper into them. And I got to thank her in person for her empowering work, and I got to slather her gorgeous Maidenwort oil (chickweed; Stellaria Media) oil all over my hands, which has to be the most erotic, slippery oil I've ever tried. Ohhh, yes, waiting for the fall flush of fresh Chickweed to arrive ..... pounce!
I also got to acknowledge some of my other favorite teachers .... like Kate Gilday, Tina Marie Wilcox, Rosemary Gladstar, Rocio Alarcon, and the Omnipotent Mz. Imani.
Now ...... given I can get over my grimacing reactions to biblical references, topics, or vocabulary, I need to go and Read the RED TENT. But really ..... I need to START A RED TENT.
Anyone else???????

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Off to the Conference!




Oh Joy! My annual Mother-Daughter trip to the Women's Herbal Conference is finally here! My time to recharge, relearn, grow, and sink into my element. I'll be back Sunday night, all aglow.

I can't say what I look forward to the most. Spending time with my Mom, being in the presence of my Wise mentors like Susun Weed, Rosemary Gladstar, Rocio Alarcon, and ALisa Starkweather. Writing and thinking and learning. It's ALL good.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Dreaming Echinacea, post #1

My Echinacea is far taller than I expected. I'm about 5' 4" and the flowers tower over me. Lately I've been having intense dreams about this plant of many wonders. I haven't done a whole lot of research per se because it is so prevalent a remedy that I think I assumed I knew about it. But my dreams have been quite informative. I see myself, spade in hand, with baskets and jar and menstrums ready. Sitting beside the tall beauties, I sing and stroke the leaves clean of dirt. When I feel the vibration strengthen in response, I carefully wedge my fingers and spade inbetween the bottom rosette, making a small area of the plant ready to dig. I feel around for the tops of the roots. The tingly presense makes me salivate. My skin tingles too. And my deep feelings of lonliness and lack of community start to surface ..... and release. I see webs of roots reaching for each other, overlapping, rolling and weaving underground. Stretching. Joining. It feels like the essence of Echinacea is honoring community, honoring balance, and honoring individual expression without feeling isolated. Perhas this is just what I need to learn right now, and it is simply a coincidence. And perhaps it is a unique heart healer.

more thoughts to come ..... it will be time to decoct and tincture soon ....

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Edible Rubies - Blog party!

This month's theme? Berries!!!!

These addicting sticky sweet-sour little jewels, appropriately named wineberries (Rubus Phoenicolasious) are ripe in profusion along our hills. They have been providing plentiful pickings since mid July. The hill is steep, fit for a goat, and quite rocky. But there are ledges enough to scale along and collect until the rhythm of the harvest has got you entranced. These
succulent little morsels are shiny, unlike the opaque look of the other raspberry varieties. You can tell it's a raspberry by the little 'cup' that you see inside the berry, where it was picked away from the stem. Other berries just have a flat surface where the berry was attached, but no hole.

Now, I have failed for certain on one point of this blog party. And that is, that we haven't been able to make anything from the berries. Oh we get plenty of them ..... we could have made jam, or pie, or liquor, or .......

But we can't seem to keep them. We eat all of them. Every last one.

So, I suppose at the very least, I could mention some good tidbits about her famous sister the red raspberry, as I speculate that wineberries could be used similarly. Red Raspberry leaves are famed for enriching the blood of the uterus and feeding nutrients to the fetus in preparation for birth. It's a powerful female nutritive, the infusion being drunk daily offers the body lots of vitamins and minerals while balancing and nourishing the reproductive system. It's especially wonderful as a galactagogue for nursing mommies. The leaves are only slightly astringent, indicating a gentle tonic action. The leaf infusion is also very good for the health of the blood in general. During my pregnancies I kept a pot brewing of Nettles, Alfalfa leaf, and Red Raspberry leaf and drank it daily. My babes are good and healthy!

Red Raspberry and wineberry, the berry itself, is sweet and sour in taste, telling me first that it is food, and second that it is a perfect summer food. Nearly all sour tasting things are cool in nature, offer vitamin C, and contain electrolytes. Perfect for keeping the body cool in hot weather and for avoiding heat related ailments such as athletes foot, ringworm, yeast rashes, bad temper flares, and dehydration. Ever take a cranky kid to a raspberry patch just for the fun of watching their frown turn upside down? It's a sure spirit lifter.

Now, with all due respect to the raspberry, I actually love these wineberries more. They are more tart, juicier, and so dramatically beautiful that you'll think you found a bush dripping with edible rubies. They fall into your hand when rubbed the right way, and though some say they are seedy - mine are not at all. They are heaven on a hill just a skip away. Perhaps the name is such simply because they are intoxicating!


So, I apologize for eating my blog post, but we couldn't help ourselves. To read more on wineberries, there are some more great resources on the web if you give it a google.
Happy Lughnasadh everyone! Eat the harvest!


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Groundnut, Apios Americana


What a find! We were out picking berries when I discovered the most exquisite curling plant at my feet. It was twisting and twirling itself all around the berry bushes and stalky plants, donning these spikes of reddish purple nealrly orchid like blossoms. Who wouldn't be enraptured? They are something right out of a Shakespeare sonnet, or a faery otherworld.
Turns out that you can actually harvest the tubers for a very good food, or eat the seedpods (they are in the pea family like peanuts and clover) but I don't know that I would have the heart to pull any of it up. I'd rather have more of it growing!
Hmmm ..... I wonder how well it transplants!


Friday, July 13, 2007

Gold flower

Yes! It's finally time to harvest St. Johnswort! I'll be away for the weekend (Nt'l Crochet conference!) but when I get back - it's harvest time. But this little beauty above will not be touched .... she showed up right at my doorstep in my garden! I feel so lucky!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Moon Garden


I am so excited. My daughter and I started our Moon Garden. We dug out the outline and fed it with organic fertilizer ( we have very clay soil here). You can see the very weak start of the stone border-to-be. The circle will don a large homemade tipi, laden with climbing moonflowers and roses, and other pretty climbers we haven't thought of yet. The crescent moon will be filled with silver and white plants, like Datura, Artemisia's, Lobelia .... and I'm sure we will build it over time.
The coolest thing about this is that we can actually look over the top of it from our deck, admiring the design at it's fullest.
My daughter is ten, and making this garden with her is really special. She's a hard working gardener, and an impressive conversationalist. What could be more magical?

Fairy drops






One of my obsessions is to take pictures of water droplets in nature. I lost many of my previous moments in the last two computer crashes, though one still lives on I think on my website of a droplet coming off of a bright green Monarch chrysalis. So, I have begun again, collecting raindrops. There is something so perfect about a water tear on a flower. I always think a fairy might swoop by with a tiny little water bucket, to collect it, like a bee.