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  • Friday, May 29, 2020 8:29 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Letting Go of All that Does Not Serve
    by Mama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman


    On my birthday this year, a friend presented me with a gorgeous amber necklace that she had gotten in Russia twenty years ago before she immigrated to the United States. Though she felt that it did not suit her, she held onto it for two decades for sentimental reasons. When she gave it to me, she apologized that it was not a new store-bought necklace, but I was thrilled. Not only does it suit me perfectly, but I was extremely touched by her sharing of this nostalgic gem.

    And I completely understood her motivation for giving it away. It is common for people in midlife to display an overwhelming urge to purge, to clean out, throw out, refuse, release, discard, to distill and streamline all of our attachments. We refine our needs and tastes and want to be surrounded only by those people, places, and things that add something positive to our lives.

    If we are to practice living life with intention, purpose, and appreciation, we are called to take stock — on every level imaginable — material, mental, emotional, and spiritual. And we feel the need to evaluate everything in terms of its value to us. Do our belongings, attitudes, ideas, obligations, commitments, habits, goals, dreams, relationships, and wardrobes still fit us? Do they suit us and our current life style? Are they flattering? Do they please us? Do they continue to serve us? Do they feed us what we need? Or do they drain our energy and slow us down by the amount of maintenance that they require?

    It seems to me that we spend the first half of our lives accumulating things and the second half getting rid of them, paring our possessions down to a manageable cache. At some point in our middle years, it is important to take the time to catalogue what it is we have, what we have accumulated, what we hold onto, what we have carried with us through the years, and what we would be better of letting go of. As we face the second half of our lives, it is prime time to check our baggage and lighten up our load.

    With practice, we can distinguish which of our possessions and commitments expresses our true desires, needs, values, and aesthetics, and which do not. Which relationships serve us in a reciprocal manner, and which do not. Which engagements, involvements, and assignments are fulfilling and life-affirming and which are empty busywork. “It's not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy,” the writer Marie O'Conner reminds us. “The bee is praised; the mosquito is swatted.”

    A thorough house cleaning, internal as well as external, is a fabulous way to delineate the purpose of our lives. Letting go of the inessential creates an elegant order to our existence. An orderly house always seems like the invitation to a fresh start, which is why so many cultures incorporate a thorough house scrubbing, a clean sweep, as it were, as well as an internal ablution in their New Year’s rituals. Our messy thinking and sloppy habits come more easily into focus when our surroundings are tidy and beautiful and filled with only what is meaningful, so that we can release them, as well.

    When we clear out the inessentials, we make space for ourselves to grow and expand to fill the void. With the chaff, the distractions, and dirty corners of our environments and minds cleared away, we can better see the structure of our lives--the foundations of our support, the bare bones that comprise our true Selves--and dedicate ourselves to living a more authentic life.

    House Cleaning From the Inside Out

    • Throw out, re-cycle, or donate one thing every day. This is a great practice in claiming what is important to you and discarding what is not.
    • Spend an evening in the closet playing dress up. Get rid of everything that that doesn’t fit your figure or your evolved Self-image.
    • Eliminate one food from your diet that you know you should not eat. When you get used to living without it, eliminate one more.
    • Send all of the novels that you know you will never re-read to a school or hospital library. And that pile of magazines, too.
    • Clean out your paper and computer files, your address book, old correspondence, and tax records. How much of that clutter is really relevant any more?
    • Do the same with your medicine cabinet and cosmetic drawers. How many of the products crammed in there merely mask superficial symptoms and flaws rather than enhance your essential strength and beauty?
    • Remove yourself from situations and relationships that no longer nurture you. Refuse what does not interest you.
    • Monitor your thoughts, and edit the negative, Self-derogatory ones in mid-stream. Eliminate stinking thinking.
    • Reduce stress through yoga, exercise, breathing techniques, warm baths, sex, music, art, meditation.
    • Eliminate the accumulated toxins in your body by fasting occasionally.
    • Slough off the old, like a snake shedding its skin, or a butterfly its cocoon. Emerge renewed and energized.


    Donna Henes is an internationally renowned urban shaman, eco-ceremonialist, award-winning author, popular speaker and workshop leader whose joyful celebrations of celestial events have introduced ancient traditional rituals and contemporary ceremonies to millions of people in more than 100 cities since 1972. She has published four books, a CD, an acclaimed quarterly journal and writes a column for UPI (United Press International) Religion and Spirituality Forum.

    Mama Donna, as she is affectionately called, maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritual practice and consultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, NY where she works with individuals, groups, institutions, municipalities and corporations to create meaningful ceremonies for every imaginable occasion. For information about upcoming events and services contact:

    Mama Donna's Tea Garden & Healing Haven
    PO Box 380403
    Exotic Brooklyn, New York, NY 11238-0403
    Phone: 718/857-1343

  • Friday, May 29, 2020 8:23 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Hawthorn: What is It Good For? Hawthorn and the Celebration of the May: A Series...

    by EagleSong Gardener


    Evening falls. Spirit comes.

    Sun goes down and the day is done.

    Mother Earth awaken me

    To the heartbeat of the sea.


    Hawthorn: What’s It Good For?


    “What’s it good for?”, became the question that sent me into a nose dive that lasted several years and also brought me to the deepest place of realization that the world was decidedly different than it appeared. I retreated into self-isolation. The question was so captivating it took almost a decade to come to some understanding of what hawthorn was good for. And, in that discovery, the revelation or mirroring of what I was good for emerged as well.


    Most herbalists I know are keen to say hawthorn is a good medicine for the heart and since cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of death in the world this made some kind of sense. But in that moment, I wanted to know something else…only I didn’t know what it was. Much like Linnaeus as he organized botanical information into a system, and yet intuitively knew there was something outside his perception that was alive. Because he couldn’t see it, he could not name it, so he referred to it as chaos. With today’s electron microscopes micro-organisms can be seen and named. Today, we are on the edge of another shift in perception that words are not quite able to get around. A shift that is more palpable daily.


    Slipping into liminal space…

    Hawthorn as an ally kept egging me on to learn more. Anatomy and physiology classes, I explored her distribution around the planet, recognizing diversity extended capacity. I watched people spending a great deal of time, money and anguish over heart diseases while condemning the very tree that could support their health.


    First, my apprenticeship with the tree herself was required. Hence, all of the research and travel getting acquainted with Crataegus. The hands-on harvest of the leaves, flowers, fruits and, finally, scion wood for grafting the Golden Girl and expanding this one Crataegus’ reach in the world. By giving myself to the tree for several days during 3 seasons of each year, I began to feel the pulse of earth and heaven moving though me. My life revolved around her schedule. With only 3 days to harvest flower and leaf from each tree meant that I planned my life around her bloom and fruiting seasons. The fruit harvest window is a little easier but learning how to tell when different species of hawthorn are ripe is an art and craft. And, where I live, they are not “better after a frost”. In fact, if I waited for a frost there may be no harvest of fruit at all.


    Next, ingestion by creating many different preparations that I could eat and drink to see what would happen. After 10 years of bringing hawthorn into my diet as a nourishing and tonifying herb used regularly, my personal experience supports hawthorns’ use as an adaptogen, that is, a plant that is non-toxic, non-specific and generally beneficial to the whole organism.


    Over time it became apparent that my deeper question was less a concern with hawthorn’s medicinal use and more an inquiry as to why is heart disease such a prevalent pattern in human kind at this time? I was less interested in finding a cure or fixing a problem, although delighted that hawthorn can be used by anyone with beneficial effect; it turned out my interest was in the heart itself and its place and function in our lives.

    What is the heart and what does it do?…

    An interesting aspect of the heart I’ve learned through this experience is that the heart is more than a pump. It could not do what it does for a lifetime if it was merely a mechanical pump. The mechanistic view of the heart has guided western medicine since 1628 when an English physician, William Harvey, published an anatomical study on the motion of the heart and circulation of blood in animals, De Mortu Cordis.[1] This work redirected medicine toward a mechanistic perspective and away from a vitalist viewpoint.


    Today, people in many fields of inquiry are shifting perspective and encompassing an enhanced vitalist or dynamic view of life and health. The idea that human beings are generative elements in creation, that their bodies have over time learned to adapt and change through many dynamic planetary events is, presently, one of particular interest.


    It turns out the heart, for now, has 3 methods for regulating and influencing the body and surrounding fields. First, it produces electromagnetic energy and can mirror the earth’s electromagnetic field. Second, it is rich in neural cells so the heart has intelligence and communicates directly with the brain. And, “the third level of influence of the heart on the brain is hormonal, this influences endocrine activity…”[2]

    The heart is coming into focus as the central organ of the body which connects the individual with the whole of creation internally and externally. WOW…the heart is way more than a pump! Having it function well is going to change your life!


    So what now?

    On the surface, the world is undergoing phenomenal change on many levels at unprecedented speeds. Quantum physics, biology and other sciences are changing the way we see the world and our place in it. Science is measuring and investigating the human organism in wholly new ways and finding new and ancient alignments. The current planetary engagement with a micro-organism magnifies the extent of the changes happening. What a time to be alive!


    When there is upheaval in nature, often the species on the edge of the disruption move to the center as things stabilize, there was no niche for them until disruption opens new niches. “…new species evolve on the margins.”[3]


    Weeds are species that succeed in disruption and live on the margins. While haw is a tree, she is considered a weed by many and entirely disregarded by others. She has a certain capacity called apomixis by which she can spontaneously create a new species without pollination from another tree. That might be a useful strategy as we move forward. Eating weeds is an easy way to build one’s physical body literally from the elements needed to navigate disruption thereby, adapting to dynamic disequilibrium or perhaps life’s ever changing dance.


    Hawthorn…what’s it good for?

    Hawthorn is an herb resonant with the heart. She is diverse, adaptable, and widely distributed making haw accessible food and medicine for people of all ages. From my personal experience, the experiences of people in my rounds and reports from the greater field of herbalism, Hawthorn has a profound effect on the heart indeed, the whole body, while exhibiting no side effects. A small, tough, gnarly tree that endures difficulty, persists in rugged terrain as well as in a formal gardens or on the side of the street in your town. Hawthorn whose thorns define boundaries allowing the sweetness of her flowers and fruits to grow on…Hawthorn a food & medicine for our times.


    A streamlined answer to, “What is hawthorn good for? is a holographic microcosm of the vastness of Crataegus: The Generative Genus…


    • Strengthening the heart muscle
    • Improving digestion and circulation
    • Resolving arterial congestion and lowering blood pressure
    • Increasing flexibility of the arteries, veins and capillaries in the body
    • Supporting the immune system and increasing longevity
    • Hawthorn is filled with anti-inflammatory flavonoids
    • Minerals and nutrients including magnesium and calcium to nourish and strengthen the whole person
    • Although no single constituent can be singled out as the active ingredient, the sum of all her parts brings the magic and medicine of hawthorn to life
    • To strengthen a weak heart or carry an old heart into a healthy future consider hawthorn as an ally
    • Crataegus spp. an herb, a food, a medicine that nourishes and tonifies the guiding organ, the heart, of each individual and humanity.


    Sitting with the heart and a bigger sense of what the heart is and its capacity. My heart. Your heart. The heart of earth. The heart of creation.

    Imagine the coronary arteries encircling your heart like a crown, bringing nourishment and oxygen rich blood to your body. Feel your heart beat. Feel each breath and the give away dance connecting you and plants.

    What magnificence the on-going journey of being human is. Seeing the heart of matter transcending into a new state of being…Big love is action.

    Engage hawthorn as a guide showing you the way forward. Challenging and strengthening every step of the way. Through darkness, into light, again and again around an ever expanding spiral.

    While we cannot control the outcome of the world emerging, we can influence the direction of flow by our actions and the allies we call upon. By boundaries set and the capacity to do what we’ve come here to do, and be and experience we can each fulfill our destiny. May the Haw be with you!


    Herbs are people’s medicine.[4]


    [1] Thomas Cowan, MD, Human Heart, Cosmic Heart (Chelsea Green, 2016) 7

    [2] Joseph Chilton Pearce, The Biology of Transcendence A Blueprint of the Human Spirit, (Park Street Press, 2002)

    [3] Thomas J. Elpel, Botany in a Day, (HOPS Press, 3rd Edition, 1998) 6

    [4] Susun Weed


    EagleSong Gardener

    Herbalist/Gardener, Grandmother/EarthKeeper, Pilgrim/Adventurer, Story Catcher/Yarn Spinner ... Is excited by the dynamic nature of life in a garden. Gardening since childhood, EagleSong has tended/managed high visibility kitchen gardens and farms, commercial gardens, herb gardens & nurseries and has trained in Healing & Therapeutic garden design. Today, she enjoys teaching health from the ground up at the generative pace of her home place, RavenCroft Garden. A cottage garden connecting people, plants and the earth for close to 30 years. As a creatrix of the Pacific Women’s Herbal Conference, EagleSong delights in crafting a place where women gather to connect, learn and transform themselves and the world in a forest at the edge of the Salish Sea.

  • Thursday, May 21, 2020 1:49 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Gemini New Moon: Open Your Heart + Blow Your Mind!
    by Kathy Crabbe

    Dear Moon Muser,
    Today I’ll be sharing a Gemini Goddess with affirmations from my upcoming deck plus a video of a guided meditation and Spring walk through a gorgeous cactus/succulent garden with 2 handbuilt adobes near my home in Southern California. I pull oracle cards (you can choose one to work with) and then we tune into our sacral orange chakra and green heart chakra to help awaken creativity, sensuality and heart energy. There is also a Protective Bubble Exercise and some creative play with Lefty Oracle Card, "Homer, on the verge of greatness." (inspired by my dad).

    Sparkly Blessings,
    Kathy Crabbe
    Soul Readings, Astrology & Art Since 1993

    p.s. Both Videos below were made for the Renegade Craft Virtual Fair

    Oracle & Guided Meditation Videos: Part 1 & 2


    Gemini Goddess

    Lighten up that heavy load,

    Release your baggage centuries old,
    The philosopher within
    Wants to sing!

    Gemini Affirmations

    - I am adaptable and inventive.
    - I am curious and on the move.
    - I am a dancing, rainbow spirit.
    - I communicate well and teach that skill to others.
    - I let go easily and quickly.

    Gemini is a mutable, air sign ruled by Mercury, the trickster planet. The card image shown here is from my upcoming Zodiac Goddess Power Deck due out this Summer. It is is 32-card deck filled with Goddess Paintings I channeled with the help of Mama Moon. It comes with a 20-page hard copy guidebook which will quickly become your go-to source for creating a Moon Cycle Goddess Altar. Everything arrives packaged in a lovely illustrated box with goddess poems printed on the inside.

    Kathy Crabbe has been an artist forever and a soul reader since awakening her intuitive gifts at age forty after five years painting with her non dominant left hand. This awoke her intuition in a big way. In 2008 she created a Lefty Oracle deck and started giving intuitive soul readings that have touched many lives in profound and playful ways. Kathy lives in sunny Southern California with her pet muses and architect husband in an adobe home they built themselves.

    Kathy’s art and writing has been published and shown throughout the world at museum shows, galleries, art fairs, magazines and books including the San Diego Women’s History Museum, We’Moon Datebook, and Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach to name a few. She has self-published several books, zines, oracle decks and ecourses and maintains a regularly updated blog, etsy store and portfolio site. Kathy received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from Queen’s University and a Graphic Design Diploma from St. Lawrence College, Kingston, Canada. She has been working as a professional artist since 1992. Kathy has been an educator and mentor at Laguna Outreach Community Artists, Mt. San Jacinto College, Wise Woman University, Inspire San Diego Studio, HGTV, Michelle Shocked’s International Women’s Day Show as well as teaching her own classes: “Awaken Your Divine Feminine Soul”, and New Moon Circles. She is a founding member of the Temecula Artist’s Circle, the Temecula Writer’s Café and the Riverside Art Museum’s Printmaker’s Network. Metaphysically speaking, Kathy has studied with Francesca De Grandis (Third Road Celtic Faerie Shamanism), Adam Higgs (psychic mediumship), Om, devotee of Sri Chinmoy (meditation), Atma Khalsa (yoga), Susun Weed (Green Witch Intensive), Joyce Fournier, RN (Therapeutic Touch), Steven Forrest & Jeffrey Wolf Green (astrology) and she received certification in crystal healing from Katrina Raphaell’s Crystal Academy.
    Learn more here.

    Kathy’s 4 week eClass “Awaken Your Divine Feminine Soul” is once again being offered at Wise Woman University so get ready to Moon Collage your heart out starting one week prior to the New Moon each month…more details here: eClass.

  • Wednesday, May 20, 2020 9:27 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Making Springtime Wild Herb Vinegars
    by Corinna Wood

    “Chickweed is back! Spring is here!” My three-year-old delightedly munches the luscious green shoots, and offers me a handful. Chickweed's return means it's time to make medicines again, starting with vinegars in April and May.

    Many wild plants can be extracted into vinegars, but chickweed, nettle, and mugwort are my favorites, both for medicinal value and sheer flavor. You can easily make these vinegars yourself, with one or all three of these plants.

    Chickweed is the most widespread of these three beauties. If you have garden beds, you probably know that chickweed loves rich garden soil and thrives in the cool, wet weather of Spring and Fall. But many gardeners don’t realize that this “weed” is nutritious and delicious in wild salad or herbal vinegar.

    You can tell chickweed by its tiny, white, star-shaped flowers, which give it its botanical name, Stellaria media. Also look for opposite leaves. When harvesting chickweed for vinegar, set aside some for wild salad!

    When it comes to wild medicinals, Nettle is one of the easiest to identify—if you're not sure you have the right plant, just brush your hand against it! The nettle sting, which is mild for most people, is felt immediately, and usually wears off within a few hours. The benign sting is actually used as a treatment for arthritic joints!

    There are two species of nettle in our area: “Barn Nettle,” Urtica dioica, and “Wood Nettle,” Laportea canadensis. Long used as an iron and adrenal tonic, Urtica diocia is the species widely recognized for its medicinal value, but either species can be eaten (and Wood Nettle stings much less). Nettle can be gathered with gloves anytime from when it peeks out of the ground until just before it flowers.

    Mugwort is a fragrant, magical herb that is traditionally used in dream pillows to make dreams more vivid and more memorable. It can be harvested for vinegar until it is one foot tall. After that, it becomes bitter and somewhat toxic.

    Mugwort can be confused with other plants, so check for its fragrant smell when crushed as well as the silver sheen to the back of the leaf. In fact, this silver color, associated with the moon goddess Artemis, is where Artemisia vulgaris gets its name. Try some in your pillow tonight!

    Herbal vinegars are delicious in salad dressing, on cooked greens, in marinades, or in sauces. Some people prefer to take a tablespoon in water as a daily tonic.

    Our soils and our bodies in these times are chronically depleted of minerals, contributing to many health challenges, especially in the hormonal, nervous, and immune systems. It is much easier for the body to digest and absorb minerals from a wild plant, which our ancestors evolved with, than from a tablet! Because of its acidity, vinegar is the best medium for extracting the minerals from these nutritious wild plants.


    To use your Springtime harvest, follow these easy steps:

    Tightly pack a jar full of plant material. If you are using more than one plant, brew them separately so you can get to know what each of them tastes and feels like. You can always combine the finished product later.

    1. Fill the jar to the top with apple cider vinegar. (raw, organic vinegars give you beneficial microorganisms much like yogurt does.)

    2. Since vinegar rusts metal, a cork or plastic top is preferable. Placing a piece of waxed paper or plastic between a metal lid and the jar works too.

    3. Label your jar with the plant name and date harvested.

    4. The next day, the plant may have absorbed enough liquid to end up uncovered, so top off the liquid level. Check the liquid level once or twice over the next week.

    5. Six weeks later, strain out the plant material, and you have your own wild herb vinegar!

  • Tuesday, May 19, 2020 4:15 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Crataegus: A Generative Genus
    by EagleSong Gardener

    Hawthorns have been a focus in my herb crafting for close to 3 decades. Three threads weave through my life that made an apprenticeship with the generative genus, Crataegus, inevitable. First, my descent from a maternal lineage of farm folk in the Welsh and English hedge medicine tradition. Second, a life-long interest in cultures of the world, and third the experience of several life shaking/shattering events that happened simultaneously and brought me to hawthorn as an apprentice.

    As an herbalist more frequently touched by plants and a need arising from life itself than a desire to investigate disease, hawthorn first showed up in a broken 50-60 year old hedge in the Snoqualmie Valley. While visiting a friend farming on leased land, I met what became a grounding force in my life, the broken hedge.

    Every spring the flowers & leaves beckoned and each fall the fruits or drupes, botanically speaking, enticed me to come harvest. At that time, I was “wild-crafting” that for me was the act of going to get plants with which to make things. I have progressed through different expressions of a hunter-gatherer of plants through time. I then enjoyed a phase of foraging, I particularly enjoy the feel of the word foraging as I sense more of an engagement with the plants I’m foraging. What fun going on a food foraging foray! This feeling sometimes comes over me even when visiting the grocery store.

    Now, my relationship with the haw hedge has taken on a new feel. After meeting up with so many hawthorns in my travels, when I approach the broken hedge I stop and acknowledge her and all of her relations around the world. I am utterly in awe of this genus as represented by this one broken hedge and the unique individual trees I’ve come to know over these many years. Now, I come to tend her and be tended. Care for her and be cared for. I can now share her with others who want to experience her nature and receive her gifts; when for the longest time I did not have the confidence to allow anyone near me or the hedge.

    As we learned in Part 2 of this series, 2718 species of Crataegus have shown up for taxonomists to tackle. I am fine with one genus and many relations, I’m not as keen to differentiate the tiny details as some. Most agree with this perspective as Crataegus can be such a confusing genus. Stephen Foster says, “The plant group embodies the concept of endless variation, with numerous hybrids and other variants, that in the late nineteenth century led to the naming of upwards of 1,000 species of hawthorn for North America alone!(1)

    Let’s take a look at some of her kin to get perspective. It’s the endless variation I became interested in. Through my exploration of the Crataegus species, I’ve back tracked through the western perspective and moved into a whole view of hawthorn’s place in the world, a more global and wholistic perspective.Themes such as variation, diversity, global, cultural, and more kept showing up. I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole into a whole new world! The warning against falling asleep under a hawthorn tree is, in my experience, just like folks say… “Beware, falling asleep under a hawthorn tree! The Queen of the May will take you as her own!” Although, this is what happened to me, I trust your experience will be wholly your own.

    Turns out the use of hawthorn for heart disease came fairly recently. Before the late 1890’s hawthorn was generally used for diarrhea and stomach ailments in the west. There is very little said of Crataegus in early western herbals. Seems a physician named “Greene” in Ireland discovered hawthorn was useful in the treatment of heart disease in the western “history” of these things. The Lloyd brothers, imminent American herbalists in the 1890’s did not take Dr. Greene’s findings seriously at first, but eventually after trial and error in their practice, came around to hawthorn’s use as remedial in heart disease. Then, with the Lloyd’s vindication hawthorn took her place in western herbalism as a heart remedy. Another version of this story states it was a hedge witch or wise woman that turned Greene onto the use of hawthorn as a heart remedy! Either way the view of hawthorn as a heart trophorestorative (2) is a young perspective and a western one. And, because it works, other cultures are making a place for the heart restorative medicine of hawthorn in their traditions.

    In China, hawthorn was listed in the Tang-Ben-Cao, a Chinese herbal attributed to Su-Jing and others dating to 659 AD and considered the world’s first official pharmacopoeia.

    Crataegus is and has been used for nourishing the spleen and easing digestive stagnation for a long time. The spleen is recognized as the place essential nourishment is sorted from gross substance which moves on for further assimilation by digestive microbes in the alimentary canal. From a Chinese and more holographic perspective, the “spleen” is as much an organ as a function. The recognition that each cell in a body performs the functions of organs in a body quickens the concept that organs are not separate entities but part of a whole complex organism. Embracing this level of wholeness challenges a mechanical view of the body.

    Quantum physics and quantum biology are pushing this edge as we begin to embrace a global sense of health new to the western reductionist mindset. Hawthorn is a perfect example of this perspective in that “the active constituent of hawthorn is generally recognized to be…hawthorn(3).  While it is recognized hawthorn has constituents, there is an honoring of this plant by most western herbalists, a recognition that it is the whole plant that makes beneficial changes when used, not the isolated constituents. Hawthorn being an adaptogen, an herb that is non-toxic, non-specific in its action and generally beneficial to the whole organism, is in familiar wise woman vernacular, a nourishing and tonifying plant.

    In China, many species of hawthorn are used with C. pinnatifida  and C. cutenea most often cited as the species used in Chinese herbal medicine. My curiosity with global cultures makes me curious how common people use plants the world over and through time. Chinese haw are much larger than N. American haws, about the size of crab apples. At street markets and festive events, they are speared on sticks, dipped in bright red sugary syrup and eaten as treats. Hawthorn is also made into small balls or flakes and used as candy. I have done this with the marc left from making hawthorn syrup to good effect. In Asia, hawthorn is added to wines, sauces, soups and stews and a delicious tea of dried hawthorn fruit and roasted barley is regularly enjoyed for healthy digestion. There is an active commercial market for hawthorn in Asia as food and medicine.

    I did not have to travel far to learn of an
    other cultural use for Crataegus, the generative genus. Living in a region with a large Latino population, I stumbled upon Crataegus mexicana when I experienced several challenging life events simultaneously. It was a time for me where earth was like dancing on quicksand is the best way I can describe the feeling I had for many years. Several Mexican families helped to soften that fall and hold me through the deep work. Here I apprenticed to a level of social medicine lost to my culture and how it keeps a people alive not just a person.

    Blanca Hernandez, a sister-gardener, working as a housekeeper in the hotel where I worked as the head gardener, invited me to her home every year for her family’s New Year’s Eve fiesta. There, I apprenticed to a people with a deep sense of hospitality and mother as the central figure in the family, community and country. Blanca taught me how to make Ponche’, the mid-winter fruit punch with Tejecote, C. mexicana, as the central ingredient. A punch enjoyed by peoples all through Mexico, Central America and S. America. Starting with the feast day of Guadalupe December 12 and ending on Epiphany Jan 6th, Ponche’ is enjoyed by Latinos everywhere. After that it is put away until the next year’s festive winter season of devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe.

    I adapted Ponche’ using northern fruits and local Crataegus from the valley where I live to bring an immune defense beverage into my winter health practice. Now, a winter standby cooked in a big kettle on the wood stove, NW Ponche’ fortifies a healthy passage through the dark, wet northwest winter in devotion to trees and a life embracing wholeness.

    Crataegus mexicana, is another hawthorn the size of a small apple. There are many studies available from Mexico investigating the potential uses of this hawthorn for health and commerce. For me, Ponche’ will always be tied to the social medicine of community that I learned from Blanca and other families in my town. People who brought me into their world and held me when I most needed to be held in a circle of human beings. Fiesta is a place where people of all ages are included in the celebration of life, mourning of death and remaining connected through times of feast and famine. These are a gregarious people who have lived through experiences that requires a resilience most of us cannot even imagine. To find hawthorn a central herb in their lives continued pushing the edge of what I thought I knew about the generative genus Crataegus.

    To give you an idea of how important Tejocote is to Mexican-Americans, it was “Once the most smuggled fruit on the Mexican border, tejocote is forbidden no more”.  Tejocote ingrained in people’s lives as a must have plant was slowly integrated into southern California orchards to prevent the illicit transport of the fruit over the Mexican border. It is now even possible to buy Tejocote fresh at tiendas in Monroe, WA in the winter months. My dream is to grow a C. mexicana at RavenCroft Garden to befriend the 3 Chinese Hawthorn and 9 other Crataegus spp. already holding vigil here.

    Common social medicine is vital medicine for continuity in human community. In the era of covid hysteria, tending the spark of community will require strong hearts. Social connection is imperative to feeling and being human. Hawthorn with her variation, diversity and global nature is a potent herb for these times. A strong heart allows the fullness of the garden of delight to be more fully experienced and provides a home for courage and spirit to reside.

    Hearts are fascinating and I’ve learned much about them in this adventure with hawthorn. You’re invited for Part 4: Hawthorn and the Human Heart in the Hawthorn Series here at Wise Woman Mentor.

     ~ Green blessings of the May your way ~

    (1) http://www.stevenfoster.com/education/monograph/hawthorn.html
    (2) The Energetics of Western Herbs Vol. 1 pg 278, revised 3rd edition Peter Holmes
    (3) Gido Mase AHG Lecture AHG Syposium, Oregon Gardens, 2018
    (4) https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2009-dec-09-la-fo-tejocote9-2009dec09-story.html

    EagleSong Gardener

    Herbalist/Gardener, Grandmother/EarthKeeper, Pilgrim/Adventurer, Story Catcher/Yarn Spinner ... Is excited by the dynamic nature of life in a garden. Gardening since childhood, EagleSong has tended/managed high visibility kitchen gardens and farms, commercial gardens, herb gardens & nurseries and has trained in Healing & Therapeutic garden design. Today, she enjoys teaching health from the ground up at the generative pace of her home place, RavenCroft Garden. A cottage garden connecting people, plants and the earth for close to 30 years. As a creatrix of the Pacific Women’s Herbal Conference, EagleSong delights in crafting a place where women gather to connect, learn and transform themselves and the world in a forest at the edge of the Salish Sea.

  • Thursday, May 14, 2020 4:18 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Hawthorn Herbal Preparations

    by EagleSong Gardener

    Hawthorn tincture, vinegar and honey are made with the fresh flower and leaf. For nourishing infusion the short harvested limbs are laid on a sheet for the first stage of drying. When 2/3’s dry, the small bunches of flowers and leaves are picked from the branches, the second picking, and are then set out on large flat basket trays, racks, hanging sheets, etc. to finish drying. Good air circulation and diffused light result in well-dried and flavorful haw flower and leaf for infusions. The dried flowers can be stored in paper grocery bags which are placed in the freezer for 3-5 days to kill moths and other insects before putting in a dark cupboard for storage.

    Hawthorn Flower & Leaf Infusion
    1/2 oz. dried hawthorn flowers and leaves
    1 quart boiling water
    Place leaves and flowers in a non reactive pan or 1 quart canning jar
    Pour 1 quart boiling water over herb, stir, cover and let steep 4-8 hours.
    This infusion is astringent in similar degree as black tea. Using 1/2 oz. herb makes a nourishing, less astringent infusion.
    Drink hot or cold. Enjoy!

    Hawthorn Flower & Leaf Tincture
    Fill any size jar with fresh hawthorn flowers and leaves.
    Pack comfortably, not too loose, not too tight. So thee’s room to breathe…
    Fill jar again with 100 proof vodka.
    Cap tightly.
    Macerate 4-6 weeks. Shake daily for the first 2 weeks, then every few days for the remaining time.
    Strain through fine cloth.
    Bottle in dark glass. Use as needed.

    Hawthorn Flower & Leaf Vinegar
    Same process as tincture using apple cider vinegar. Be sure to use a non-reactive lid to cap the jar. Great in salad dressings, marinades and any place you would use vinegar in cooking. This vinegar may turn the inside of the jar a rich rusty color over time. This is OK. Bioflavonoids becoming visible.

    Hawthorn flower & leaf vinegar has shown a tendency to form scobies due to lingering kombucha trials in my kitchen. I skim them off and continue using the vinegar. This may also have to do with the flowers inherent microbial nature…

    Sunburn 1st Aide: Mix hawthorn vinegar 50/50 with cool water and spritz the skin for a soothing sunburn remedy.

    Hawthorn Flower Honey
    Fill a jar with hawthorn flowers, no leaves
    Fill the jar with warm honey
    Let macerate for 1 turn of the moon, stirring on occasion to keep flowers mixed in the honey.
    Enjoy honey with the flowers on toast, in tea, off the spoon!

    Green Blessings of the May Abound!


    EagleSong Gardener

    Herbalist/Gardener, Grandmother/EarthKeeper, Pilgrim/Adventurer, Story Catcher/Yarn Spinner ... Is excited by the dynamic nature of life in a garden. Gardening since childhood, EagleSong has tended/managed high visibility kitchen gardens and farms, commercial gardens, herb gardens & nurseries and has trained in Healing & Therapeutic garden design. Today, she enjoys teaching health from the ground up at the generative pace of her home place, RavenCroft Garden. A cottage garden connecting people, plants and the earth for close to 30 years. As a creatrix of the Pacific Women’s Herbal Conference, EagleSong delights in crafting a place where women gather to connect, learn and transform themselves and the world in a forest at the edge of the Salish Sea.

  • Thursday, May 14, 2020 3:38 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Hawthorn and the Celebration of the May A Series... The Season of Leaf & Flower
    by EagleSong Gardener

    Years ago, as a budding herbalist, I knew I wanted to understand plants and nature and people. How and what connected them. I was not that interested in disease, although, as a budding adventurer, I was interested in learning to navigate the calamities of an adventurous life. Herbs were the perfect allies for this exploration. It took a while to see the limitations of the reductionist mindset so entrenched in western thought but alas, with plants as allies even that is becoming a distance memory of a journey through a strange land…

    Plants kept saying Expansion is where its at, EagleSong! Expand…breathe in…breathe out! Expand your mind, your lungs, your ligaments and tendons. Expand your heart…even if that means breaking it wide open. Stretch girl! Stretch into a woman, stretch into an elder, perhaps, even a crone…keep on growing through it!

    The verdant explosion of green is so filled with rapture during May, one can only step back and watch with glee…or perhaps, terror. If you’re a gardener, you know you’ll never keep up with the exuberant unfurling of the green! And, as a gardener, the best way I can truly enjoy this season is to imagine myself atop a vibrant green wave, riding her out to Zenith when once again the curve flattens into summer! Now, the cacophony of bird song and brilliance greet each morning and a long-time ally bursts forth in full bloom. Hawthorn, is there draping herself with dainty rose-like blossoms that appear to drip from her short, stout limbs. I set out to bring home another year's store of a tasty, nourishing herbal ally.

    Hawthorn trees are commonly found in country hedges, at forest’s edge, in cities, gardens and parks circling earth in the temperate north. These sturdy, small trees carry the strong memory of country use in their veins. This multi-functional, aesthetically pleasing tree has been used through the ages for cultivating every day health all around the northern latitude of earth. The word Haw is an old European term for hedge. In England alone, there are over 350,000 miles of hedgerow boasting Hawthorn as the predominant tree. On May Day the entire countryside is festooned with white-flowered ribbons of hedges stitching the countryside together. A veritable highway of life filled with birds, butterflies, small and large animals and a seemingly endless variety of plants.

    Maude Grieve’s earlier description of one botanical binomial for Crataegus spp. C. oxycantha, “from the Greek kratos, meaning hardness (of the wood), oxus (sharp) and akantha (a thorn)”, tells one much about the tree. A very dense wood used in wheel and chair manufacture in earlier times. Bearing long, sharp thorns “whitethorn” is a favored country name for the haw. Mayflower, another common name, due to its bloom season has traveled well through the ages. C. monogyna, the hard, one-seeded species, is yet another familiar species name to western herbalists.

    Where I live in N. America, many species of Crataegus are found. The introduced hedgerow plants C. oxycantha and C. monogyna come from northern Europe, and the native C. douglasii are commonly found growing in the country hedge side by side. Hawthorn trees revel in the ritual of the season, enacted by the birds and the bees, easily cross-pollinating with one another bringing untold variation to its progeny. Because of this variation and with the many introduced hawthorns in my harvest hoop, hawthorns bloom over an 8 week window each spring here in the Snoqualmie Valley. Given each species’ flowers are harvestable for about 3-4 days, I recognize how diversity ensures a plant’s stability & resilience in an ecosystem.

    Hybrid forms of Crataegus are found in urban gardens, parks and along city streets. Hawthorn is tough and grows easily once planted, although, after years of trying, I can say, “hawthorns are hard to start by cuttings or seed”. Grafting works well and you get the tree you expect from a graft. With a compact habit, year round interest and many varieties to choose from, hawthorn is a suitable tree for small gardens and street side plantings even in urban areas.

    Gathering flowers and leaves for a delicious, nutritious herbal infusion for your cupboard is one gift of the Mayflower. Used for heart health throughout life, hawthorn leaf & flowers’ mild, pleasing flavor is delivered in a golden hue that inspires one to head for the prospect of lengthening days and the generative quality of summer with gusto. A strong heart is filled with courage, trust and joy. The qualities anyone might need to begin a journey into new territory. As the Pilgrim’s trusted the ship, the Mayflower, to bring them safely to their new world; with time and embodied practice, you can learn to trust the cellular wisdom of this tree to carry you into this ever-changing world anew each day.

    For those with a scientific bent, Crataegus is not just a genus widely spread throughout the northern hemisphere, it is also a well-studied tree with scientific papers from around the world exploring its benefits, constituents, and the dynamic nature of its travel around the planet. Western herbalists appear a bit myopic when it comes to the genus. Their consideration is smartly focused on Crataegus monogyna and C. oxycantha as the two genera used for medicine.

    After 10 years of study and travel to 5 countries visiting hawthorns in their chosen and introduced habitats, the gregarious Crataegus spp. assure me that 2718 species listed in theplantlist.org is a realistic estimate of genera. Although, a bit cumbersome to analyze this was an expansive realization of what I had been looking for all along. The medicine of plants, while simple, is also more complex than it first appears.

    Understandably, people focus on the species closest to them. Much like the vast array of constituents in hawthorn, the vast populations of this tree on earth are mind expanding. When I fell under Hawthorn’s spell, one of the difficulties I was grappling with was a world view too small to cope with the rapidly changing pace of today’s world. After working under hawthorn as an apprentice for close to 20 years, I have become more flexible & resilient whilst feeling grounded in my person. Once again, I enjoy the love of learning with which I was born…this is a common story I hear from many people regularly using hawthorn.

    Phenols, Bioflavonoids, Anti-Inflammatories…Global and Citizen Science!
    Have you ever approached a blooming hawthorn and recognized that oddly peculiar scent? The leaves and flowers of hawthorn are rich in phenols which is why you can smell her from afar when blooming. Hooray, forest bathing is extending to rambles in the hedge! Alas, the scent of hawthorn is not agreeable to some and is relished by others. A circle of apprentices comes to mind at RavenCroft years ago, all sitting around a pile of almost dried hawthorn flower and leaf plucking the florets off at the proverbial second picking. The women were enveloped in the voluptuous scent, giddy, laughing, singing and some down right hot, you know sexy, all the while their hands working together in an ancient rite of women’s work, harvesting & processing herbs. Is this Mayflower at work?

    Hawthorn’s numerous anti-oxidants are bountiful and easily extracted using the simple recipes below. A fascinating study investigating flavonoid profiles and antioxidant activity in the flowers and leaves of hawthorn species from different regions of Iran might interest you. Fifty-four samples were studied and, not surprisingly, there were many differing and similar fields of information found between species. Quercitin was one of the bioflavonoids in measurable concentration. A bioflavonoid known for its anti-oxidant activity, reducing inflammation and free radical damage in the body.

    Imagine a scientific review differentiating several species of Crataegus growing in one country. Mexico and Asia are also rich in published studies on the Crataegus genus. The Hawthorn Project is coming into view as a citizen science project in the formative stages. Initiated as an exploration into the many Crataegus spp. found across North America, I welcome input regarding hawthorns growing in your area.

    This tree has captured the imagination of people around the world through time and through every layer of society. And yet, the county where I harvest most of the hawthorn used in my practice has deemed Crataegus a noxious weed! Health so close and yet, for some, still so far away. Ardently doing our best to manage and enjoy local hawthorns, people here in Western Washington have taken to “dressing” the trees they harvest with ribbons, bells and notes stating, “this tree is tended & harvested for food and medicine”. What joy finding trees dressed with praise once again living in the commons.

    For tree health and growth, leaf and flower harvest is done by pruning branches 2’-4’ long using the 5 D’s of standard pruning as your guide…that is, by removing Dead, Diseased, Deformed/crossing, Dangerous and Desirable growth, you will engage the energy of the tree to encourage generative growth while still meeting your needs as a forager gathering food & medicine for daily life. Letting air & sunlight reach the inner branches improves tree health and fruit production. As a tree that can be cut entirely down at the base, coppicing, and still have the power to return to a vigorous life, it is almost impossible to harm a hawthorn by pruning. And, it is certainly possible to increase health and vigor and the aesthetic structure of the tree by learning to prune with the tree ’s needs in in mind. This genus is co-evolved with human intervention and actually thrives on it.


    EagleSong Gardener

    Herbalist/Gardener, Grandmother/EarthKeeper, Pilgrim/Adventurer, Story Catcher/Yarn Spinner ... Is excited by the dynamic nature of life in a garden. Gardening since childhood, EagleSong has tended/managed high visibility kitchen gardens and farms, commercial gardens, herb gardens & nurseries and has trained in Healing & Therapeutic garden design. Today, she enjoys teaching health from the ground up at the generative pace of her home place, RavenCroft Garden. A cottage garden connecting people, plants and the earth for close to 30 years. As a creatrix of the Pacific Women’s Herbal Conference, EagleSong delights in crafting a place where women gather to connect, learn and transform themselves and the world in a forest at the edge of the Salish Sea.

  • Thursday, May 14, 2020 3:29 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Culturing from the Heart
    Anne-Marie Fryer

    When I turned 50 I received in the mail a free introductory magazine from AARP (American Association of Retired Persons). An article in the magazine mentioned a study of Polish women who ate cabbage in the form of sauerkraut four or more times a week. The study concluded that the Polish Women were 74 % less likely to develop breast cancer than a control group. The article also mentioned that sauerkraut eaters were less likely to develop colon cancer.  The study was done by the American Association for Cancer Research, a highly respected organization in America. Issue and date is mentioned in the introduction to my class at WWU, Culturing from the Heart.

    Fermented and cultured foods, - sauerkraut being one of them, are some of the most wonderful foods created. They are kind of miracle foods. Just a table spoon or two is enough to harvest all the benefits of these wonderful tasty fermented and cultured foods. Why are sauerkraut and other fermented and cultured foods so important in our diet? Here are three basic reasons for eating fermented and cultured foods.

    One is the fermentation process or the culturing process helps digest the food that are being fermented or cultured. When we ferment foods we often just use salt, some times water -that is all. Some people add whey as a starter. When culturing foods,  for example making yogurt, we add a starter, -a culture, to the milk to create yogurt. Dairy is difficult for many people to digest. Cultured milk becomes so much easier to process. I had a client who could not digest milk – and wheat for that matter. When she changed her diet and life style she turned around her intolerance to milk and wheat and was able to enjoy both.  Wheat can be extremely difficult to digest when not prepared well. It is only by fermenting the wheat, or the gluten, during the process of making sourdough bread that the wheat is predigested and therefor not harmful to eat. This is the first reason for eating fermented and cultured foods; that the fermentation process or the culturing process help digest the foods that are being fermented or cultured.

    The Second main reason to ferment and culture foods is that these healthy bacteria and enzymes created during the process, benefit our entire digestive tract and therefor our immune system. We have about 4 pounds of healthy bacteria in our digestive tract that are hugely important for breaking down the foods we ingest and keeping unwanted bacteria at bay. I will in the course, Culturing from the Heart, go into more details.

    The Third reason is that fermented and cultured foods help digest the meal we are eating. Say we are having rice and burritos with sauerkraut. The sauerkraut helps digest the rice and beans and especially the oils and fats in the meal.

    In the class, Culturing from the Heart, you will be guided in a step-by-step process to make, beside sauerkraut, kimchi and brine pickled vegetables. You will get a hands on experience in making yogurt, kefir, soft cheese, as well as cultured and fermented drinks such as kvass, wild berry elixir and rosemary beer. Most of all I want to help you gain confidence and ease when making these wonderful, very simple and inexpensive, yet highly nutritious and medicinal foods.

    Both courses that I offer (the other being Cooking for the Love of the Children), will be customized to your needs as much as possible. I want you to share with me challenges or health concerns you may have.  I want to help you answer any questions related to the courses, as for example, 'What does it mean when mold appears on the sauerkraut?' or 'How do I help my children to appreciate broccoli or green leafy vegetables, like kale?' I look forward to working with you!

    Juicy, Healthy Sauerkraut

    2 pound green cabbage
    1 tablespoons sea salt

    Take the outer layers of the cabbage and discard.

    Shred the cabbage very, very fine.

    With your very clean hands rub the salt into the cabbage until the cabbage get shinny and juicy.

    Fill a wide mouth quart jar with boiling water to sterilize it. Pour off the water.

    Pack the jar with the shredded cabbage. Press it down firmly so that the liquid is above the cabbage. Place an air tight lid on the jar. Let the jar sit covered on the counter in room temperature around 70 degrees. After one day check if the liquid is still above the the cabbage and that no cabbage is exposed to air. If not add extra brine by boiling 1 cup water with an added 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Let it cool before pouring it in the jar.

    Cover the jar with a kitchen towel and let it sit in a dark place at room temperature, not higher than 72 degrees for the first 2 days. Place the jar in a cooler place about 65 degrees and let the kraut sit for 5-12 days.

    When the sauerkraut is done it will have an appetizing sweet and sour taste with a unique aroma. Keep the sauerkraut in the refrigerator.

    Anne-Marie Fryer
    Cooking for the Love of the World

    Anne-Marie Fryer Wiboltt is a Waldorf class and kindergarten teacher, biodynamic farmer, author and nutritional counselor. She has taught nutritional cooking and counseled for 25 years in her homeland Denmark, Europe and the United States.

    She trained as a macrobiotic cooking teacher and counselor and studied the principles of oriental medicine and the research of Dr. Weston A. Price before embracing the anthroposophical approach to nutrition, food and cooking.


    This Four week course will explore some of the many benefits of fermented and cultured foods, and why it is important to include them regularly with every meal. You will be guided through the steps of making sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled vegetables, kefir, soft cheese, and yogurt, as well as get a chance to discover new fermented drinks such as kvass, wines, and beers. I will aim at answering personal questions around your culturing and fermenting experiences.

    Intuitively we know that cultured and fermented foods are real health foods. Naturally fermented and cultured foods are an exceptional way to prepare different ingredients and some of the most important side dishes and condiments in our diet. They are often overlooked or not mentioned when we describe what we had for dinner, and yet they are pivotal in creating a well-balanced, nutritious meal.

    They add a bounty of nourishing, life-promoting substances and life forces, almost miraculous curative properties, and a wealth of colors, flavors, and shapes. They increase the appetite, stimulate the digestion, and make any simple meal festive and satisfying. The course will be highly practical with many hands-on activities.


    In this Four week course you will learn about the nutritional needs of your growing child and receive delicious, seasonal, wholesome nutritious menus and recipes on affordable budget so as to encourage children to eat and live healthy.

    During this course we will explore the nutritious needs for your growing child.

    We will discover how rhythm, simplicity and nourishing activities support a healthy child development. You will find new ways to encourage your child to develop a taste for natural, wholesome foods as well as receive and create delicious, seasonal nutritious menus and recipes that stay within the limits of your budget.

    Cooking for the Love of the World:
    Awakening our Spirituality through Cooking

    by Anne-Marie Fryer Wiboltt

    A heart-centered, warmth-filled guide to the nurturing art of cooking. 200 pages, softbound

  • Tuesday, May 05, 2020 4:08 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    The Maternal Gift Economy and its Paradigm
    by Genevieve Vaughan

    The gift economy as seen through the eyes of Western anthropologists is well known in academia. It involves rules for reciprocal giving and giving back within communities. However. there is an earlier gift economy that takes place among mothers and children that has to be unilateral because young children cannot give back anything in return for the gifts they receive. My contention is that this unilateral gift economy is the economy of life, and all other economies are derived from it. Even exchange is only a gift made contingent and doubled back upon itself and requiring a presumeably equal return. The maternal economy of life sets down the patterns of who we are as humans, we learn everything about the world and develop communication, language and our sense of self in these earliest interactions. The interactions and the logic of quid pro quo exchange are usually only imposed and begin to be understood at 3 or 4 years of age. Then they gradually take over as what we judge to be ‘rational’.

    Like all of patriarchal academia anthropologists have left out the maternal gift economy which is at the root of all economy.

    My contention is that the economy based on exchange and particularly monetized exchange has transformed a maternal nurturing species into a species with an embedded gift exploiting psycho-social mechanism that is now causing planetary death.

    The challenge is now to understand this new story about who we are and disentangle ourselves from the mechanism while maintaining ourselves and the other species alive. This requires shifting away from patriarchy and exchange and returning to the maternal model, which we all already have within us.

    Many people are already behaving in this way, for example in generously responding to the pandemic, but  they do not connect it to a wider model for social change and when the emergency subsides they will return to what they consider normal and  real, the quid pro quo monetized market. It is as if the horses that had been led out of their stalls to safety returned into the burning barn.

    The story of the gift economy can be seen in practice in so called ‘pre’ market indigenous cultures and in matriarchal societies that still exist. (‘matriarchy ‘ not as a mirror image of patriarchy but a society where maternal values rule for all). I have also developed a theory of language and communication based on gifting, which would let us see how much giving and receiving actually permeate our lives in practice.

    If we can begin to reframe the many hidden gift elements of our lives as deriving from the maternal gift economy and the exchange elements as exploitative of the gift, even parasitic upon it, we can understand how to turn our society around.

    Many projects use gift thinking and values without connecting them to the unilateral model that is present the relation between mothers and children. This impedes the generalization of that model, which is necessary for societies to consciously move towards it.

    Many aspects of daily life and the market already contain gift giving, such as free housework and the gift content of profit. These make up part of a more complex analysis which I will talk about on the show.

    Without understanding the maternal gift model as pan human and constitutive of all aspects of life, humans have looked at gift giving and exchange in many different ways - as part of the battle between good and evil, as love vs money, morality vs hard reality etc. These actually hide the paradigmatic and economic character of gift and of exchange and make it easier for exchange to validate itself at the meta level as it has most recently with neoliberal economics where profit and self interest are the highest human values and gifting seems a strange albeit heroic exception – not the normal human everyday way of being.

    Just to list a few kinds of projects where gift giving is evident but usually not framed as maternal or unilateral.

    • Eco villages
    • Permaculture
    • Alternative schools
    • Volunteer work of all kinds
    • Internet sharing
    • Commons projects
    • Karma kitchens
    • Food Banks
    • Charities
    • Movements for social change


    Genevieve Vaughan was born in Texas in 1939. She is an independent researcher. After finishing college in Pennsylvania in 1963 she married philosopher and semiotician Ferruccio Rossi-Landi and moved with him to Italy where they had three daughters. The couple participated in the beginnings of the Semiotics movement in Italy as well as in the Italian Left, where Genevieve got her political consciousness raised.

    Genevieve's first book For-Giving, a Feminist Criticism of Exchange was published in 1997 by Plain View Press and has since been translated into many languages. She has edited two books: an issue of the Italian journal Athanor. IlDono/The Gift: A Feminist Perspective, Meltemi (2004) and Women and the Gift Economy: A Radically Different Worldview is Possible (Inanna Press 2007). An ebook Homo Donans appeared in 2006. Her most recent book is The Gift in the Heart of Language, the Maternal Source of Meaning (Mimesis International 2015). Another edited book of essays from an international conference held in Rome, Italy in 2015: The Maternal Roots of the Gift Economy is now in press.
    Her websites are: www.Gift-Economy.com and www.GenevieveVaughan.org

  • Tuesday, May 05, 2020 3:24 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Hawthorn and the Celebration of the May: A Series A Hawthorn Love Potion
    by EagleSong Gardener

    I enjoy tending several hawthorns in the hoop of life I travel each year. The hawthorns are among my favored allies because of their persistence, sense of humor and down right tenacity.

    I travel the highways and byways of the Snoqualmie, Skykomish and Snohomish rivers for most of my herbal interplay now days. Settling into this triad of rivers and the medicine found here is an ongoing exploration in a layered, well-lived life.

    Last spring I had, I thought, finished the hawthorn flower and leaf gathering when, low and behold, a sassy spring charmer flagged me down from the side of the road. Yes, her pink delicate blooms reached right out and grabbed my heart. Has that ever happened to you? It is one of the dangers of practicing herbalism that few speak of, I refer to this phenomenon as 55 mile an hour botany.

    You know what I mean? Have you been at this long enough to know? Or, maybe you’re just beginning your herb wanderings, so I am going to tell you what others keep to themselves! You finally reach a point in your passionate affair with plants that the oddities and vagaries along the highway leap into consciousness as you speed by. As if possessed, you find yourself screeching to a halt, turning your vehicle around and going back to investigate! It’s an outright danger this way of life imposes on those struck with plant medicine syndrome! Be Aware!

    Well, it was just such a time, when she, that young, hybrid wildly lifted her skirt and yahooed me while I was descending upon the village of Monroe. With all the flirtatious energy of the May, she grabbed this crone’s heart and would not let go. “I’ll be back”, I called as I slowed the car and looked deeply into her limbs. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

    Sure enough, the morning brought me into the limbs and sweet scent of the softest, apple-blossomed hawthorn I had yet to see in my valley meanders. Her delicate blooms as soft as a maiden on those tough, sinewy mother limbs anchored to the crone of her short, twisted trunk. “Take me home”, she whispered in a sweet, sensuous voice entwined with her voluptuous scent. “Take me home with you and let’s have some May Day fun!”

    Back in the kitchen, I settled into a deep, listening trance as the pink blooms fell from hand to basket. She giggled, “See that pitcher over there?” she asked? “I want to go in there with some of that cool water in the jug from the spring. Then, I want to go out on the porch and bask in the sun for the rest of the day!”

    Well, this was easy enough to do. All those years of study and medicine-making and curing and fixing while expanding an understanding of life and herbs and medicine and spirit; I was enjoying this otherly directed fling with my new found friend. Evening rolled around and I went out to bring the sprite in. “Get your hands off me!” she curtly directed…"Do you not realize tonight is a full moon in Scorpio? I am now ready to infuse into the arms of the grandmother. Leave me be!” “Okay”, I said. She knew what she wanted and I was perfectly content to see where this was heading…

    Early the next morning as a warm sun rose over the eastern hedge, I went out to fetch the vessel now sparked with the sun and infused by the light of the moon. Whew! This was shaping up to be some strong medicine indeed! All from a roadside imp with a magnetic personality! “Ready to go in?” I queried. “Yes! I am ready to be strained and bottled,” came her brisk response.

    After straining the golden liquid, a small splash of brandy was added to stabilize the brew. Then, we were off to the shop for bottles. There, some very tiny, very cute 2 ounce bottles offered themselves up for the endeavor. “Yes, perfect”, she squealed. “Those are just right!” I began pouring the very soft infusion into the very tiny bottles complete with very happy giggles and snorts. “I’m going to Wisconsin, I’m going to Wisconsin!” Her lilting song flooded the room. All of a sudden I heard a loud rattling from the shelf where the dried herbs are stored.

    I went over to see what was causing the ruckus. “Right!” they retorted. "We've been loyal and steadfast all these years and now some sweet young thing throws herself at you from the side of the road and you fall head over heels for her”, harumphed the dried old hawthorn berries gathered last fall. And every fall for the last 20 years from the same trees in the same hedge up valley. “You’re running off to Wisconsin with that side of the road hybrid?” they howled, "with nary a thought about us?"

    “Oh, do I hear jealousy in your tone, dear ones?” I inquired. “You bet your booties you hear jealousy in our tone” exclaimed the old fruitful ones. “Well, what would you like?” I asked. “What would we like?” they grumped. “Yes, what would you like?” I asked again. “Hummm, well”, they mused, “We want acknowledgment, recognition, consideration, you know, respect, for our years of loyal service! And…we want to go to Wisconsin.”

    “Okay, what might that look like?” I perused drawing them out of their cave. “We want 3 dried haw berries in each bottle" came the quick retort. “Then, we’ll be in every bottle! Complete hawthorn, the entire valley, the best of time and place in each bottle!” “Perfect!" I smiled, as I placed 3 dried haws in each bottle. I capped and placed the Hawthorn Elixir on the shelf with care. They rested, infusing together, the sweet young blooms and the old crone haws bathed in each other’s presence.

    A few weeks later, off I went to give a presentation at the annual Bastyr Herb Fair. Off to the Fair went the very tiny bottles of hawthorn elixir, laid in a basket of dried haw flowers. I was giving an herb walk and talk on wild edges, hedges and my long ally hawthorn. At the end of the discourse, one of the very tiny bottles of Haw Elixir leapt into my hand. As the lid was turned “Fisssst!” they squealed as they came fizzing out the top, cascading down the edge of the bottle! “We’re so much more than an elixir now", they chimed together. "We are the Blessed May! We are alive and the Blessed May is alive and Love Potion is born!” With peals of laughter everyone sipped the Love Potion and, you know, in that moment, life sparked with love and everyone smiled!

    Yes, we did go to Wisconsin later that summer. No labels found their way onto the very tiny bottles. As they were placed on the marketplace table at the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference, the life emanating from those tiny, well-filled bottles began to cause a stir. With the flirtatious tenacity of a young sprite and a certain staid presence of a crone some immeasurable essence leapt from those very tiny bottles into the hearts of women passing by. “What’s in those very tiny bottles with no labels? they inquired. “Oh those”, I answered. “Hawthorn Love Potion! Would you like a taste?”

    Bright Blessings of the May to you and yours as sun climbs again toward zenith and the dance of life continues ‘round the spiral…


    EagleSong Gardener

    Herbalist/Gardener, Grandmother/EarthKeeper, Pilgrim/Adventurer, Story Catcher/Yarn Spinner ... Is excited by the dynamic nature of life in a garden. Gardening since childhood, EagleSong has tended/managed high visibility kitchen gardens and farms, commercial gardens, herb gardens & nurseries and has trained in Healing & Therapeutic garden design. Today, she enjoys teaching health from the ground up at the generative pace of her home place, RavenCroft Garden. A cottage garden connecting people, plants and the earth for close to 30 years. As a creatrix of the Pacific Women’s Herbal Conference, EagleSong delights in crafting a place where women gather to connect, learn and transform themselves and the world in a forest at the edge of the Salish Sea.

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