Saturday, October 27, 2012

Samhain Altar: Offering to our Ancestors.

The moon is waxing
The air is hanging in a Samhain suspense.
The wind is quickening
all energies condensing invisibly,

An eerie glow twinkles from the last golden leaves,
decending like a flock of lifeless butterflies.
The trees brace themselves,
sinking down into gravity,
Humming with flexible resin.

There is a hurricane headed.

A real one in the air, from the ocean,
and one inside many of our souls.

The days of the dead,
with a full moon,
seems perfect.
Our ancestors are pissed. We have ravaged the land
and each other
Without much care.
We have ignored ancient laws and common decency.

And when the veil thins, they can speak to us again.
Throwing branches, flooding our plains,
thrashing with bolts of lightning.

If I were an ancestor I'd be ready
to yell too. I'd call down to Earth daughters
and sons
and all hearts:


Our storms are the same.
We cry in tears of grief and loss
We sob - flooded and drenched
with longing
for wholeness and reclamation
dying to bring back our limbs, our roots,
our loved ones.
Our lovers and our bees,
our waters and our wombs,
our milk and our breasts wrought with poisons

We are dying to be one again, or separately together.

What are our ancestors asking of us?
What, by their massive tantrum,
are we asked to mother.

Have we let ourselves be the storm, enough?
Grief is a turbulent, cold river
winding and leading to forever
but different in temperature as it flows.

Tears, our human tears,
are filled with hormones and pain relief
Just as the sea is filled with kelp and stingers and teeth
and magnificent depth.

My ancestors are asking me to be both gentle and fierce
To ask the plants for help at the same time I give seeds and tears to the soil.
They are asking me to share my gifts of healing and sensuality and connection,
and to ask others the hard questions, too.
To be a role model for a new/old way.
They ask me to be a devoted mother,
and to prepare bone broths and root brews and oil medicines.
And pray to the trees.

What would your ancestors ask of you today,
sweet one,
if he or she,
were sipping mugwort and sweet fern tea
over candlelight,
with you.

Offering gratitude for my beloveds today, in honor of the coming storm, the coming sacred day of the dead. To my teachers, mentors, changemakers, mothers, cross dressers, beauty-dancers. 
I offer sage, osha, copal, cedar, lavender to you. 

Grandfather, you made sweet wine and a family of hearts.
Grandmother, your fingers danced with music and you asked nothing less than excellence
Grandfather, you were trapped in a bad time to be such a feeling man, when you could have better served as a Shakespeare actor.
Grandmother, you raised powerful women from your caring. You passed down your golden heart. 
Grandmother, you danced a wild edge of wellness and crazy, and with your flagrant beauty, you taught us, too.
Ancestors before my Grandparents, I hear your pulse in my blood, I see your glory in the land. 

Blessed be your wisdom and gifts, newly understood, newly ignited, newly creative in this precarious, auspicious world. 


Offerings for honoring our lineage....

Balm of Gilead
Palo Santo


Snake skin
Frog skin
Deer skin

Family Jewelry
Rose Quartz

ocean or river water
herbal brew
herbal beer
herbal elixir
herbal tincture
herbal oil

herbs for grief/heart:
Rose of Sharon

essential oils for grief/heart
Ylang Ylang
Clary Sage
Palo Santo

May you know peace in your heart, may you know wholeness underneath grief, may you know love as the center. 

Enrollment for Lady's Slipper Ring Ends October 31

Come home to yourself on a journey of sacred self care and pleasure medicine.

~Blessed Be~

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Herbs for Our Elders ~ Returning Nourishment, Reclaiming Lineage

Caring for our elders is a reciprocity of life. It is a return and a gratitude of nourishment, compassion, listening, and love.

It is also a way for us to grow our hearts and become more whole as humans.

I say this as a novice really. My experience of helping those in difficulty or challenging health are not as many as a lot of people. But they are meaningful and thought provoking. And challenging as an herbalist.

I am learning as I go.

What I am noticing so far is that loved ones in a health crisis want powerful help - but deeply need comfort.

This can prove challenging for us who are bringing drastically different foods or teas to the table and expecting results and palatable joy.

Just as working with anyone who desires health and wholeness and is seeking change to get there, we have to meet the runner at the starting line, and offer compassion at each step. This can mean starting with the very simple basics - which should also be the top priorities.

One important priority for elders is that in a state of depletion, we cannot ask the body to detoxify. This is my philosophy all the way around, actually, but it's critical to remember this for our elders because making the mistake of detoxing without deep nourishment can be extremely harmful. Their bodies simply do not have the resources to support detoxification. Their bodies can decide on their own volition when to let go of old, when it is nourished deeply enough with the good stuff. Nourishment will enable natural rejuvenation.

So, my tactic is to go deep, and go simple.

My husband left this morning with a jar of bone broth and the herbs to add to a pot of simmering water.

The idea is to nourish at the deepest level: the cells. The blood and bones. And to do that we need something that is essential to the body's most native structures and delivered in a way that will be assimilated in earnest by all digestive functions (that may still be working)

This means minerals and water and it must be cooked and it must be both plant and animal.

Thus, bone broth (happy grass fed organic and local marrow bones), and herbal infusion.

No, I'm not a scientist (maybe your cringing and busting my chops for not having scientific footnotes. Please go somewhere else if that is what you want.) I'm someone who has used herbs her entire life and has never been on prescription or OTC drugs. I've never taken antibiotics. I'm 37 and comparatively I'm damn healthy, and so are my kids. I'm someone who believes in the food and medicine traditions of our lineage and puts them to good use.

This past couple generation of elders has been robbed. They've been sold wonder bread and told their homemade pickles are a nuisance. They've been given student loans from their kids that rob them of time with their family. They've been fed kool-aid instead of afternoon tea and their health is suffering for it.

This pains me. Our most valuable community members, our mentors, our wise women and wise men are stripped of their initiation rites and mentoring roles, and instead shoved into ticky tacky little boxes.
Alone, and without their food and medicine heritage. Without their gardens, without their heirs, without their health and dignity, and often times without their purpose.

Maybe offering a bowl of bone broth, a hug, and a mug of reishi-astragalus decoction won't change the world, but it might reconnect our elders with a sense of belonging, a feeling of solace, and a remembering of how the world was meant to be. It just might change their life, no matter how much of it is left.

I'm grateful for the wisdom and commitment of our teachers and elders. They know cool stuff about life if we just stop our phones and listen.

Seasoned Mineral Bone Stock {from Lady's Slipper Ring Moon 8}

Into a stock pot or crock pot, add:

~ 10 ish chicken bones, or 4-5 beef bones with marrow (approximately) or use the whole carcass of a roast chicken, skin & gelatin & giblets and all
~ 6-8 cloves fresh garlic
~ 2 Tbsp vinegar or ½ of a fresh lemon with peel
~ 2 Tbsp salt (you may desire more later)
~ 1 Tbsp black peppercorns, whole
~ 3 bay leaves
~ ½ of an onion
~ Chunks of celery & carrots as desired
~ 1 tsp each: dried thyme, basil, oregano
~ 6-10 mushrooms
~ 1 inch chunk ginger root, fresh, sliced
~ 3 slices of dried astragalus root
~ 1 Tbsp of seaweed
~ 1 beet, in chunks
~ Water, filtered or well, to fill pot ¾ way full, leaving room for later additions.

Water should be filtered or good clean well water. Gently, at barely a simmer and covered, let your bone stock cook for at least 18-24 hours.

When rich and ready, you can choose to simply add the vegetables you wish, and fish out bones/skin as you enjoy your meal (usually very easy), or you may choose to ladle it out and pour through a strainer and then make your desired soup with the strained stock, or freeze it for later use (excellent gift for an expecting mother!)

You may also wish to simply leave it as is, scooping out bowls as desired and enjoying the simplicity of it. Any which way, it’s versatile, easy, delicious, and intensely nutritive. *If you’re friendly with a farmer or butcher and you can also get chicken feet – this is traditionally used in the making of a densely nutritious stock. The gelatin rendered from the feet nourishes tendons, ligaments, nails, hair, skin, and other vital functions and structures of the body. It is also something remiss from most modern diets. You’ll also notice that the gelatin will coagulate on the top of the liquid when cooled, and help preserve the stock for longer by keeping air out. Bones and veggie scraps can easily be collected from suppers and stored in the freezer until ready to use.

Bone Deep Decoction

For a decoction, add the following herbs to a crock pot or stove pot and let cook, just below a simmer, for at least 30 minutes. Water can be added for three rounds with the same herbs within a 36 hour period.

For an infusion, add the following herbs to a half-gallon mason jar, cover with boiled water, add a lid, and let sit overnight. Strain & sip the entire contents over the course of two days, make again.

~Astragalus - 2 long strips or 4 short of dried root.
~Licorice - 2-4 medium strips
~Red Clover Blossom - 1/2 cup
~Oatstraw - 1/2 cup
~Nettle leaf - 1/2 cup
~Reishi mushroom - 4 1-2 inch chunks
~Mugwort - 1-2 Tblsp
~Linden - 1/2 cup

Since this infusion is relatively bland, you can also add it to soups and foods instead of water. You can also do that with the above bone broth.

If we can offer our sweet elders just these two bone deep offerings, we will be giving them great gifts. Simplicity, comfort, ease, and the ability to make and replicate the healthy blood cells they need.

And while you're at it ... everyone in the room should have a bowl and mug too - you can't take care of others if you're not taking care of you.



Monday, October 8, 2012

Gaia's Cold Shoulder: Coping With Winter, Nourishing for SADness (a mini-anthology of remedies)

It's that time again

I'm sure you've noticed.

When the leaves flutter from the bark 

and the skies lilt. 

Do you have a sit spot to visit? 

Have you claimed a favorite tree to befriend for the cold season? 

Are you making steamy hot soup? 

Do you have a support system?

If you are anything like me (or how I was for most of my life) you might be crankily bracing yourself for the worst. Once you are forced to put your wool socks on (while everyone is talking about how stinkin' "cozy" they are and what sweater they'll knit next) you are grumbling in agony and despair. The coming of winter feels like a loss - of half your year, of your sanity, of your enjoyment of life, all the green and flowering friends you have frolicked with all summer. Dammit. *just* when you finally got that glowing olive tan, you've got to put on a long sleeved shirt! Hmph.

It's like a dark curtain descending upon you and all you want to do is sleep until spring.

Right? I know. It sucks.

I know deep inside you wish you could be all cheery and gleeful and excited about going out to pick apples on a crisp day or planning a holiday meal with your family.

But if even the mere thought of skiing or Christmas or snow makes you want to hurl, I feel ya. You're not crazy or dark or disturbed. You're a perfectly beautiful, normal, feeling human. And not alone.

If you're bundled up and warm enough to hang out with me a little longer here at this keyboard (grab the fingerless gloves and some tea, ok?) I'd love to share with you a mini-anthology of winter highlights that have helped me bond more deeply with my New England land and make deeper peace with the Seasons.

By sharing, I simply offer up any of these as possibles for you to try - as warming distractions, challenging initiatives, invitations to deeper Earth Intimacy, fun explorations ...... but most of all, to offer a glimmer of possible peace with the "w" word.

I'm not entirely there .... but there are more things in winter that now I actually look forward to. One of my first winter allies was the Cottonwood Tree:


Scaling down on Holiday Expectations was a biggie:


And an Article I wrote for Plant Healer Magazine

GAIA'S COLD SHOULDER - The Betrayal and Loyalty of Winter

Using Art to transform pain to ease, ugly to beautiful .... with my camera!


May your seasonal toolbag be full, dear one.

Please note: All writing is copyright Ananda Wilson and may be circulated online in it's original link carrier (Plant or linked to from another website with credit and captions or quotes, but may otherwise not be copied, reproduced, distributed or reprinted in any manner without express written permission of the author. Thank you for respecting my writing and intellectual property. May it serve you well.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

What Nourishes You Most Deeply? Are You Listening? (Four keys and four herbs for October transitions)

I Know The Way You Can Get 

I know the way you can get 
When you have not had a drink of Love: 
 Your face hardens, Your sweet muscles cramp. 
Children become concerned 
About a strange look that appears in your eyes 

Which even begins to worry your own mirror 
And nose. 
Squirrels and birds sense your sadness
And call an important conference in a tall tree. 
They decide which secret code to chant 
To help your mind and soul. 

 --Hafiz, excerpt

Did your heat come on this morning? Did you feed the wood stove?

Mine came on for the first time of the season. I smelled the metallic air when I woke, and I knew to grab socks and a sweater.

There was a misty haze of cold dew along the fields, and a quietness of busy people slightly more withdrawn.

The poetry of the horizon speaks of geese pushing time and of leaves blushing red and setting sail.

There is much work of medicine and magic to be done, still.
I feel the stirring of our ancestors asking more of us, and the longing of the Earth for more response-ability.

I watch the squirrel heed these laws every time he digs to bury a nut.

Nature calls us to heed rhythms.

Are you listening? What do you hear?

Four Keys and Four Herbs for October Transitions:


How is the temperature in your body? Do you wake feeling cold, hot, or uncomfortably mixed? What do you do support your comfort?

Ginger root helps to warm our circulation and regulate our 'triple heater', making temperature adaptation easier for our bodies. Instead of hot cocoa, try a cup of gently simmered fresh ginger root, with a little bit of honey. Or, make ginger root hot cocoa :)

Daylight and Moonlight:

How is your rest & activity feeling? Are you sleepier or more energized than you were in the summer?

Seaweed is mineral rich giving our bodies the ability to be fully awake, and fully asleep, at the appropriate times. Seaweed is also brimming with both lunar and solar energies .... as it is fed by the sun and nourished by the moon and her watery tides. As perhaps the fastest growing vegetation in the world, seaweed feeds our wholeness and ability to be strong during periods of growth and change.

Your muse:

How is your creative self? Engaged, disowned, tired, longing or restless? Your sense of divine connectedness to your life and your daily expressions of self? Your time for self care and reflection, meditation, or nourishing touch?

Cardamom is just sensual. It's sweet and spicy, gentle and strong, loving and clear. Cardamom in my warm milk, on my warm apple compote, or in a spicy soup, cardamom just makes me feel inspired. I often combine it with my other favorite muse herbs like Damiana and Kava Kava, but on her own she can re-awaken the imagination and playful self. When our senses and our mind are both playing, we can experience intense creative satiation.

Your footing:

Do you feel steady, sure footed, and solid? Or frail and precarious? Are you the river, or are you the glass bottle floating down the river, headed for rapids? What is the message in your glass bottle, waiting to be freed, so that you may flow?

Burdock to me is a water root. Dug from the wet earth and cooked in soups we are centered deeply in our water-bone humanness. We become grounded, centered, yet not stagnant. Burdock root nourishes our ability to be stable in our bodies, in our truth-speaking, and in our hearts.


Perhaps you open my newsletter or blog expecting to be more formally taught about herbs.

By now you've probably realized that isn't entirely how I roll.

I could teach you about just herbs, but if you don't have the willingness to listen to your body, herbs aren't going to do much.

I don't teach answers, I teach questions.

I give possibility and options and resources and catalysts .... the answers belong to you. Answers can change over time.

And our bodies are part of nature. In listening to nature, we hear our bodies. In listening to our bodies, we hear nature.

In being honest about our senses, intuitions, impulses, and callings, we access a deep and perhaps ancestral strength that can empower our lives in profound and meaningful ways.

My wish for you is to continually have access to, and connection with, your true source.

May you have a blessed day, dear one.


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Beauty Blessings,