I woke very early this morning and felt a need to write. I’ve been waiting for this fire to ignite again. For all the summer months I felt a doing, an urge to be making with my hands. And as is true with the flow of the seasons I have begun to draw inward and want to share my words again. As I sipped my morning tea I wrote out what I’ll be sharing at tonight’s Howl event. This local offering sold out fast. I am warmed to my core to be part of this group of healers that will be sharing an evening of Divine Feminine energy under tonight’s full moon in firey Aries. I will be offering a ceremony of tea (or Chai in tonight’s case). While Cha Dao (the Way of Tea) is traditionally an offering of the Tea plant; I’ll be offering the Divine Mother as an archetype in the cups of Lady’s Chai we will share. This will be a very special community evening indeed. After Chai there will be a guided meditation followed by Yoga flow. During our Savasana Acupuncture and Reiki will be applied. In a small room full of diverse mountain women the energy will build and hopefully spill out for the good of our mountain community. This is one of those positive ways to create change in an increasingly negative time. We will do this again (or something similar). Check the events page for future offerings.
Filtering by Category: Herbal
'Life got away from me there for a while. We have just under 2 acres in cultivation and August seems to be the month where everything ripens at once. We have berries, apples, a rose and large vegetable garden and two medicinal herb gardens that took most of my attention this month. But as we are at the mountains it seems to slow down just as fast. We now have cooler temperatures both day and night and have gotten a bit of rain this week. I wouldn't mind a few more weeks of the hot weather, but as I'm a knitter I can't say I won't enjoy the days of knitting a sweater by the fire that will soon be here.'
That was the beginning of a much overdue email I sent out this morning to someone I am creating a friendship with that lives far away. I try to paint a picture of what is happening here. And as I continued to write I realized that this is a good place to start a long overdue blog post as well. I seem to paint myself into a corner by giving myself deadlines. I have always found that self imposed deadlines or 'it has to be just this one way' is a sure fire way for me to not do a thing. And yep, I did it with this here blog. And now enough of that--
August is so busy here, but July was as well. I find that once summer hits I'm a doer. My writing ends for all intensive purposes. Most of the writing this year has been in my newsletter format as well as my online class. I have several classes I want to add to that online school. However, I've realized that summer isn't that kind of season for me. So I've done some short videos and taken a lot of photos so that this fall and winter I can offer these short courses on the plants I grow and all their wonderful uses.
Right now I am processing plants that have been drying in my Chicken Coop. I can barely find room to create as the plants have taken over every surface. I love it and of course am really ready to have lots of counter space again. We finally came up with a drying rack system to get the plants out of baskets and onto wall shelving. That, of course, means cleaning up the area so that the shelves can be installed. So to that end, I have been sitting outdoors the last couple days stripping dried flowers and leaves from stems and branches into the jars they will be stored while awaiting alcohol, honey, glycerin or be saved for to drink as teas throughout winter. Last summer I really wasn't able to harvest many plants as I was sick for 4 months. It allowed perennials to get that much hardier, making this year a bumper crop for most of my medicinals. I will not be purchasing many herbs to make my remedies throughout this year as I unfortunately had to last year (although it felt great to support the several local herb farmers I did). I can't give up on my Chai collection though so those spices will come from trusted sources outside the area. Although I've had this niggling feeling of not getting all the projects done that I wanted this summer it has felt so very wonderful to just dedicate myself to the plants. This week I've been working with Blue Vervain, Skullcap, Lemon Balm, Calendula, Lobelia, Mugwort (Western, Japanese and Vulgaris), Comfrey leaves, Red Clover, Yarrow, Anise Hyssop...it's been a busy week.
I have also had a booth at two farmers markets this summer. I love the community building and outreach that occurs in this type of setting. I have several new products that I've created from requests at the markets that I haven't had time to add to the website. This Friday will be the last market day for me in Sandy the Mount Hood Farmers Market so that I can get a bit more caught up on the website and plan for some other local encounters (keep an eye on the events page). A yoga instructor and nutritional coach in our village started the Hoodland Farmers Market in July that has been so wonderful! We are a food desert up here with a single grocery that has little organic foods and what there is has a very high price tag. The Sunday market (going until September 30) has been so well attended and allowed me to serve my community in a way that I haven't been in the past. Over the years I've seen myself as serving the people I was still connected to in Portland and others around the country that have found me in a variety of ways. This local connection feels right and I plan to continue to nurture it past the farmers market timeframe.
There are some plants that are needed especially right now, those that are hollering out saying hey don't forget what time of year it is! Elderberry is first on the list. While not yet ripe up this way, I do have products previously made that are ready to go (and I need to get them up on the website). Elder is a wonderful tender medicine that all ages can take in different formulas for the primary reason of helping your body to boost its own immunity. There are other uses for this small tree as well. The flowers are a beautifully scented umbel style flower that are very tasty in a jelly and taken as a tea help the body to break a fever. The leaves are not ingested but make a lovely lavender dye for cloth or yarn; also can be used as a poultice or ointment for wounds. The tree itself in quite magical. Known as a fairy tree, you never take from her without leaving a gift behind. As with any plant you always ask permission before doing any harvesting. The Elderberries are most known and widely available in natural food and medicine stores as syrups, elixirs, tinctures, teas to help all ages in the cold and flu season. I have all of these in my apothecary and take some to the farmers markets. They have historically been known to prevent or lessen the amount of time a cold or flu hangs on. A very gentle remedy, as I mentioned, this is a medicine that can be taken by young or old. Just make sure you've chosen the correct way to administer it. What does that mean? Well children until 1 yr shouldn't have honey (so infuse the berries in maple syrup) and really the very youngest should take any medicine through their mother's breast milk. There are also those that prefer not to have alcohol (take a syrup or use a glycerite). There are many products out on the market and I have some that I'll be adding to the website over the next week.
I'll be back soon with some other plants that are helpful to the body right now. If you are experiencing dis-ease in your body and are looking for something specific that you don't see on the website do email. I have a much larger apothecary than is represented in the shop. If I don't make a product I like to refer you to herbalists around the country where that plant medicine is local to them. There is such a wonderful network of plant people out in the world. It makes my heart sing to see what is happening now compared to when I first became interested in taking plant medicine myself back in the 80's.
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Have you ever had something you've neglected for so long it becomes painful and guilt ridden to contemplate getting back to the routine? Yep, this blog and my podcast too for that matter. I love writing! I send out a monthly Herbal newsletter and a weekly Magical newsletter. I just created an online course where I am still adding content. I've found that since I linked my blog to my business website I've boxed myself into this space of feeling like I need to post very professional plant monographs and inquiries. And then my brain goes down the rabbit hole of there are so many amazing herbalists out there producing these articles. What do I have to bring to the table that is new. And I finally realized that I don't live my life to be like others. I've always had a hard time fitting into a box-it works for a while and eventually my elbows get pointy. Leo here with Scorpio rising. Is it any wonder? I am a story teller. I love sharing my bit of Mt. Hood. That is what my podcasts (former and current) have always been about. The plants, the animals, time in our kitchen and the apothecary. And that is what I want to bring to this blog. I haven't decided if I will get back to the podcast. I love podcasting! But do I have enough to say that can span all of these spaces? I do think I preach to the same audience across the board. Is that true? Email or drop a comment and give me some feedback.
Last summer as I posted a final entry for the year (having no idea it would be) I was in the midst of a healing crisis that began in the spring. I was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer in June and took until the beginning of October to finally begin to recover from a surgery gone horribly wrong. I am not going to share all the not very thrilling details here. But I will share that I think there is a place for both Allopathic (the Western Medical model) and Herbalism (as well as other forms of healing) in our world. I had a very fast growing tumor. There was no time to seek out alternative ways to slow and stop the growth. And believe me I would have if there had been time. There are so many healing modalities out there that can do just that. There are also times when you have to go to the quickest route to assure care. That said, what a mess it was. My experience of not being heard, being bounced about just reassured me that what I do with herbs and helping people find the right life changes is the most important calling for me right now.
Keeping healthy and bringing herbs into your diet and life with teas and elixirs (and so many other carriers for healing with the plants) can keep the need away from Allopathic care. But also using herbs outside of that model. Taking a tincture of Meadowsweet for a headache is almost the same as popping an Advil. Look to the problem. What is causing your headache? What needs to change so you don't have them anymore? Eyesight? Stress? Not eating correctly? What I advocate most with people I talk to is to live mindfully. Be in connection with your body. Know yourself so well that you can make changes so that you don't end up at a Doctor's office or in an Herbalist's care.
Obviously there are times when our bodies run amok. Mine sure did. After the fact I found out that these tumors run in my mother's line of the family. I'm just the lucky one where it became cancerous. If I broke my leg or was hit by a car I'm heading to an emergency room. But if I am having pain in my stomach, can't sleep well or have headaches won't stop I'm going to take a look at my life. What is going on? What changes can I make? And then I'm going to take the herbs that can support my body while I make those changes. Herbs are not a bandaid. They take actions in our bodies that allow the body to heal itself. They work as cleaners, builders, nourishers.
I am on the healing path now. After 4 months in bed I have been striving to make my body strong again by exercising several times a week. I eat nutritious meals and eat out less. I drink a lot of Nettle tea to support my body and aid in the strengthening I'm doing. I take Miky Oat elixir when my nervous system feels overwhelmed as I slowly climb this last hill to full health. I see an Accupuncturist and a Naturopath/Energy Healer to continue to make changes for my healing and help bring my mind and body back into sync. I am very much myself. And I want to keep it that way. I don't expect to ever go through such a healing crisis again, but I am now at a higher risk. So I certainly won't be complacent. There are some things we can't keep from occurring in our bodies, but there are other times when our complacency is what allows dis-ease in our bodies. What changes can you make today that are proactive for your health? If you aren't sure make a list of discomfort in your mind and body. Can you see any issues that might group all of this together as an all encompassing problem? Sometimes the areas of our lives that we need help with really do all stem from one bigger change that needs to happen. Can you make one small change today that will make you feel better? I am doing that. I'm going outside on this sunny day (wish it were snowing on our mountain though) and I'm going to spend at least 30 minutes with the light on my head. I'm going to put my hands in the earth and begin to clean up what I was unable to last fall. The plants are still sleeping, but I left a mess out there. The exercise, the deep breathing, the connection to nature all are going to help keep my mind and body healthy.
If Stress is at the core of discomfort or dis-ease in your body you might want to check out my new course--Self Care in Stressful Times. I've brought 25 years of experience in dealing with my own stress to these lessons, lectures and activities. As I said I'm still adding more-- recipes, resources and videos to help you find the right techniques for you in your own self healing.
Time for me to get outside!