Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Of Old and New

The bright sun coming in now, after Solstice, makes me want to change lots of things. I've purged my dresser and a few key places in my home just getting rid of old and making room for new - or better yet just leaving it open and clear. As you can see, my blog was in the line of fire! I'm playing with the new layout and background.... I like it today but we'll see if it lasts. 

One thing new in my life is the Anima Medicine Woman Tradition Herbal Path - my lovely long time- long distance friend and fellow herbalist Kiva Rose from the Anima Sanctuary has been offering her correspondence courses at a growing rate. I didn't take it before because I was busy doing Susun Weed's Green Witch Course, which I finished this past Fall. 

I suppose you might think that was enough, right. Well, it could have been.... but I need some deeper transformation in order to realize the truth of who I am. I had a feeling this would be the route for me - fitting both my philosophy as well as my logistical circumstances. The course doesn't separate the cerebral process and the personal process, which is vital for the becoming of an Herbalist in whatever style expressed. 

So far, I am on lesson 2, and it's nothing short of rockin' my world. What I didn't expect is how rough my emotional waters are, and how much I have just, well, ignored - parts of myself that need tending. I'm on the journey now, to find out who I am, really, under the assumptions and stuff and looks and titles. It's a very mysterious feeling so far... not knowing exactly how to do it or what to be open to noticing. I do know, however, that I can't expect anyone else to brave their inner wilderness if I don't know it myself.

I've got some water, a knife, and a backpack....

I'm goin' in..............

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Snippets of Yule

As a bonafide bah humbug, it is useful for me to consciously focus on the parts of Yule that bring me very special moments and memories, and that align with my core values. Here are a few of them......

Lighting my son's hand made tallow candle. In his Pioneers course, they rendered some beautiful deer tallow from a deer that the instructor had taken in as a mercy killing after it had been brutally hit by a car.

A green Yule...... I decided against wrapping paper this year. Everything we wrapped was in re-used stuff: Paper bags, last year's stuff, and extra packaging material from shipped boxes. The coolest ones were the bubble wrap (which my nine year old loves to pop) and the no-longer-needed blueprint paper. The Trader Joe's bags are pretty groovy too.

The amount of herbal gifts I give has drastically reduced from a large basket of maybe 20 goods in it per person or couple, to just one or two. Since working at Great Hollow I just don't have the time to keep up on home made herbal products or inventory for that matter. But I did manage to make a coupe really nice things..... a lovely sacred solstice smudge blend, containing red cedar needles I harvested, rose petals from an organic bouquet my hubby gave me, copal, myrrh, frankincense, lavender, and white sage. mmmmmmm. and the little finishing touch is the shell to scoop it out with.

A delicious and supremely soothing staple is a good quality comfrey salve. This one I kicked up a notch for gift giving - ok fine, for my own guilty pleasure! I put in a little cocoa absolute and clementine co2 and it smells out of this world delicious! The wrap on the left is a wash cloth I crocheted out of some really buttery wool blend yarn, and tied up in it is some good soap.

Now what did I get for Yule? Well, I got a few really special things, but topping the list is a generous antidote to my above stated dilemma...... HERBS! Yes, my Mama herbalist came through with flying colors and granted me a beautiful basket of organic and locally harvested bulk herbs, labeled "to my Medicine Woman Daughter" - almost needed the tissues for that one! Oats, Nettle, Red Raspberry leaf, Peppermint, Sassafras, and Astragalus. Perfect.

Recovery will be a breeze.............
I can sit back for a little while and sip my infusion amidst the boxes, new books and calendars, and watch the juncos collect seeds,
...and the Pileated Woodpeckers as they spiral up the hemlocks in a glorious and rhythmic tandem dance. Happy inbetween days everyone........

Friday, December 19, 2008

Keying Conifers

Learning how to use a key is fun. Last week the kids in my herb class and I did this. First we learned by making a key from our selves, by dividing into two main groups to begin with. The idea is that you start with the most general, and work your way to most specific, splitting the options in to two each time (dichotomous key). First we split into boys/girls. From there we split each group up even further, until finally we could define each individual by their most absolute feature. Then we used the framework to classify two more people (the teachers of course!)

From there, we took on the world of evergreens. We put our order of questioning to work, tracking the least to most subtle details of each bough. Conifers are incredibly fascinating! And the perfect type of plant to learn to use a key from. They also make good material for a starter talk on the evolution of plant life. And it's always interesting to teach kids about 'naked seeds'.

After noting all the defining features of our green trees, we used the information to finally ID each species. We had a wonderful round table debate on the 'Blue Spruce', commonly known but not listed in my books. With a little help from our lead instructor and the Internet, we found it to be synonymous with the Colorado spruce - of which we did not have a bough.

The kids successfully ID'd at least the genus of each evergreen, in some cases they got all the way to species. Woohoo! Ok, I know the poster looks simple.... but the observational skills that get exercised in the process is a lot more noisy and fun and complicated!

The middle one is supposed to follow through to list the Norway Spruce, one of my personal favorites - the way the boughs drape along it's sides like gypsy sleeves. If you get a good blister of sap it makes wonderful salve or wound dressing. They seem to line the highways of Western Connecticut in an elegant way that buffers the otherwise preppy atmosphere.

Hopefully the kids will be examining their Yuletide tree up close this year!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I LOVE this guy! (Green Dean!)

Mr. Dean has some of THE best plant tutorials I have seen. He is clear, concise, thorough, and really lovely to listen to. His I.T.E.M. acronym is a great teaching and learning aid as well. 

Have Fun!

and more formally: