Saturday, October 27, 2007


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 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

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.