Monday, August 22, 2011

The Honorable Exchange ~ Relationship and Wildcrafting

If there's one strong imprint I came home from the Women's Herbal Conference with, it's a deeper commitment to my relationship with Nature.

As a wildcrafter, I'm very conscious of what I take, how I take it, and what I give back. I've always taught my students the factors in friendship that create honorable exchange. However I'm realizing, after some time spent in class with other wild plant tenders, that in this era, our giving back must be increased exponentially.

Karyn Sanders asks us: "What if all the herbalists gave back 7 times what they took. How would our world look in seven generations?"

And my mind exploded.

It's time to bring more than a ceremonial give-away when we harvest. Not that that isn't vital - it's that more than that is critical. Upon harvesting, I'll now be toting with me seeds, water, compost, rabbit droppings, and various items that not only feed the soil, but sow the healing seeds for the next century. I'll be encouraging the wild seeds to blow in the wind, bow towards the earth, swim in the river, or travel on the fur of a creature.... however their dispersal needs are met. I'll be watching more closely the communities, habitats, directions and neighbors of the plants, and their tribal habits for thriving. I'll be sensitive and active in meeting their needs, for they generously meet mine.

Herbalists: let us walk our talk. We are the medicine.

And the Elixir Winner Is.............


You have won yourself a free two ounce bottle of my Hawthorn Flower Elixir! Congratulations! It won runner up for best tincture.

Your elixir will ship out tomorrow morning. Thanks for playing!!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011


So last year I entered one elixir into the elixir bar contest at the Women's Herbal Conference. My Black Birch elixir. And to my sheer delight, it won! Well, the elixir category, anyway..... there are lots of categories and lots of winners :)

This year I'm entering six ... and YOU have a chance to win a TWO OUNCE bottle *with any order from my shop*. A handmade herbal worth over $25, for free! 

Here's HOW:

1) GUESS which one will win:
      Black Cherry Fruit, Peach Tree, Bee Balm, Honeysuckle, White Fir, or Hawthorn leaf & flower.  
     According to my children, these were the best ones to enter! 

2) ORDER your choice of Handcrafted Herbal Collections from my PoppySwap Shop between Today and 11:59pm of Thursday (8/16 - 8/18 2011) and write your guess in the note section of your order, or email me:
PlantJourneys AT gmail DOT com.

3) Cross your fingers! I will announce who guessed the winning elixir correctly on Monday, 8/22/11, and mail it with the collection ordered by Tuesday, the next morning, with no extra shipping charge.
(Don't worry, if you don't win, you still get a free yummy lip balm with every order!)

Good Luck!

Fine Print:

If I don't win at all, I will draw a winning name randomly.

If multiple people enter the correctly winning elixir, I will award up to two people the free elixir, chosen randomly by name drawing if more than two have entered correctly.

Play on!

Friday, August 12, 2011

August Remembers

August turns a corner. 

Nights pull up the covers a little sooner

Crawling into moonlit slumber

Sprinkling heavy dew across the land

kissing all her creature's cheeks goodnight. 

August remembers childhood trees 

that held secrets on the edge of the playground.

Cool early mornings collect hopes and old dreams

in her humid body 

and sweats them onto blades of grasses.

Full ripe fruits fall from limbs uneaten by birds

but devoured by soil.

Under the canopy of August 

A circus of greens and pollen

Reckless perfection spilling down the hills

Anointing the rocks 

Mating with potential.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Heron Flower ~ Blue Vervain

August 1st shows towers of peaking blue wands. Tiny blossoms crown each flower spike like a parade of bride's maids. A wedding of water and earth perhaps; the swamp vervain takes spring's rain ponds and turns them to a masterpiece of wildflower magic. 

 Walking carefully through the lumps of sedge and mud, I'm slow - in case I get to watch the frogs. Mostly they hear me first and leap into the rivulets before I can see them close up. But their little "plop" makes me smile, and I've come mostly for the flowers anyway. The loosetrife is showy and narcissistic as usual. The boneset is just starting to open her sultry, creamy white blossoms. Goldenrod is pluming anew and sweetly collecting bees. The vervain is perfect.

Verbena hastata (Swamp Vervain, Blue Vervain) grows readily in wet areas, and those who know me know that I call her the Heron Flower; as she grows where the great blue herons wade. She keeps good company with boneset, alder, skullcap, water mint, and bugleweed.

While some experience vervain as dizzying, nauseating, or can't take more than one or two drops of tincture, I find that only happened to me when I chewed up (and swallowed) a whole leaf. Aside from that one little doozy of an afternoon, vervain has proven herself time and time again as one of the best tension dissolving plants I know.

She's a fiercely bitter plant, it's true. Not much is needed. 5 drops or so to start will do - in a little water please. She'll send her magic right down to the root of tension headaches, muscle spasms, stomach knots from stress, and in general just get you "out of your head". For those who get neck pain/tension so bad they can't turn their head, vervain is a valued ally. I find vervain incredibly helpful for when I'm trying to sleep but my mind is spinning with ideas. I make a list, take some vervain, maybe a little skullcap, and try again.

Vervain is helpful in relieving nerve tension. I've been using it a lot lately in my regimen to heal my badly pinched sciatic nerve.

Flues and fevers also move through more readily when assisted by warm/hot vervain tea. Nope, it doesn't taste great, but it's an excellent anti-viral and seems to have a talent for relaxing systems and body parts that are gripping tightly and won't let go. It keeps one calm and steady while wading in the waters of life, just like Heron.

Vervain shows some history of use on venomous bites; used to allay poisons and purify the blood. As such a strong bitter, it is effective against stomach parasites and proves a superb digestive aid.

As a fresh poultice, vervain can cleanse wounds and stimulate healing quickly, therefore a good plant to know while camping or hiking. I wouldn't hesitate to use it as a cool fomentation after a long day in the sun. As an astringent, it can help alleviate inflammation and itching from various ails of outdoor adventures.

Of course she is a fairy flower too.... in countless texts is stated to charm the home and family with health, protection, and enchantment. Spells to cross into the land of Fae are made using vervain - and on the other hand has also been sewn into babies clothing to protect it from fairy abduction. Either way you see it, she's a flower of presence; the truthful moment between past and future, between summer and winter, between letting go and moving on. A deep breath of now.

For a Midsummer ceremony, use fresh or dried vervain to cast your sacred circle; sprinkling along the circumference of your space. Place a bundle of vervain on your altar to honor the magic in everyday life. Tuck a sprig into your medicine pouch for visioning or meditation. A small posy in your oracle bag will protect and purify your cards or runes.

Tincture for medicine is simple to make; a jar full of blossoms and leaves, covered with approximately 70% grain alcohol and 30% pure water. Let steep for 4-6 weeks.

Vervain magic tiptoed her way into my herbals this week..... a magical ingredient in my Incantation Collection; a ceremonial herbal set;  soon to be listed on Poppyswap. Keep your fairy eyes peeled ;) 

Heron Flower tall and graceful
Crowned with flowers fancy
Cast aside the dark or doomful 
Guard our wellness pantry