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  • Tuesday, September 18, 2018 8:18 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)



    Fresh hypericum tincture or oil


    On the sunniest day of the summer, look in fields and along roadsides for the yellow flowers of Hypericum perforatum (aka St. John’s/St. Joan’s wort) and get ready to make two of the Great Remedies. Take both 100 proof vodka and pure olive oil with you when you go out to stalk St. John’s/St. Joan’s wort, bottles of various sizes, and a pair of sharp scissors.


    Depending on the abundance or scarcity of flowers, I harvest anything from just the blossoms to the top third of the Hypericum plant. So long as the day is sunny and the plants dry the tincture will be active and medicinal even if it contains a fair amount of stalk and leaves. I also make a quart of this tincture as I use it frequently, in dropperful doses.


    If you are using tops rather than just flowers, chop as needed. I often harvest Hypericum flowers right into my jar and fill it with vodka or oil while still afield, insuring optimum freshness and maximum fairy blessings.


    Cover tightly. Label. I do not put my oil in the sun, but some people swear by it. Try one each way and see what you think. Your St. J’s tincture and your St. J’s oil will be ready to use in six weeks.

  • Tuesday, September 18, 2018 5:50 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Summer Milkweed Blossom Salad

    Susun Weed





    All parts of the milkweed contain a mild poison. Just as the monarch caterpillar can eat some and survive, so can we. Just don’t overdo it, or you may experience gastrointestinal distress.

    • 2 cups cottage cheese
    • 2 cups fruit of the season
    • ½ cup milkweed flowers
    • ¼ cup roasted nuts


    Prepare the fruit by removing pits or seeds and cutting into bite sized pieces. Strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and peaches are in my markets when the milkweed is blooming.

    Put the cottage cheese into a serving bowl. Add prepared fruit and milkweed blossoms and stir gently to mix. Sprinkle nuts on top and serve.

  • Monday, September 17, 2018 7:17 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    The Medicine Wheel of Plant Uses, part 2
    Susun Weed




    The taste of the East, place of newness, is sweet and bland. Mother's milk is sweet and bland. The cereal crops (wheat, rice, corn) are sweet and bland. The East is Food, and it connects to the realm of the herbivores. The plants of the East give us NOURISHMENT.

    Salty is the taste of the South, place of sweat and blood. Seaweed and miso are salty, just as amniotic fluid is salty. The South is Tonics, and it connects to the realm of the ocean. The plants of the South are a TURN ON.

    In the West, place of death and the ancestors, the taste is intensely bitter, horribly bitter, inedibly bitter -- a bitter that increases even after you spit it out. Bitter as gall. Medicinal drugs are bitter. Poisons are bitter. The West connects to the realm of the mushrooms, those non-flowering plants that live on dead and decaying matter. The plants of the West can CHANGE YOUR MIND.

    And in the North, place of deepness and clarity, the taste is aromatic. Here are the herbs you buy at the grocery store; most of them are in the mint family. These are the herbs your mother uses, the seasoning herbs, the ones loaded with aromatic oils. The realm of the oils connects to the North. And the plants of the North give us WISDOM.

    We will look deeply at each of the directions, its taste, the Goddesses who guard it, the realms it opens, and the lessons each has to teach us.

    The four moving questions:
    The answers to these questions will change where a plant appears on the medicine wheel.

    1. What part? The leaves and berries of Phytolacca americana (poke) can be eaten, the roots and seeds are used cautiously as medicines but are considered poisonous. The petioles of rhubarb are eaten, but the leaves and root are not. Burdock root is sweet, the leaves are incredibly bitter. One of my pet peeves: Herbals that tell me to use a particular plant but give no clue as to the part of the plant I should use.

    2. When harvested? The amount and type of constituents in a plant differs at different times of the year. Perennial roots store winter food in the form of carbohydrates. Dig poke roots in the fall after the first frosts (cold weather concentrates the carbohydrates into the roots) and tincture it immediately in 100 proof vodka, and the alkaloids will be buffered by the sugars and starches (which precipitate out and must be shaken from the bottom up into the liquid before use). Roots dug in the spring will have a higher percentage of alkaloid, and may be more poisonous or more medicinal, depending on the plant. Even rhubarb changes as it grows (oxalates concentrate in it throughout the growing season), so it usually harvested only in the late spring, early summer.

    3. How prepared? If you harvest the right part of the rhubarb in the right season, but serve it raw instead of cooked, it would be unpalatable. If you harvest poke leaves at the right time (early spring), you could still poison yourself, unless you cook them in three changes of water.

    Different methods of preparation draw out different constituents from plants and move their position on the medicine wheel. If sugar cane is prepared by refining all the minerals out of it, it moves from the east to the west; it no longer nutritive, but now poisonous.

    Water is the universal solvent, so many herbs are dried and used as teas or infusions. Minerals, vitamins, sugars, starches, hormones, tannins, volatile oils, and some alkaloids (caffeine, for instance) dissolve well in water, given sufficient time or high enough heat. Fresh herbs are the best sources of volatile oils and are best made into teas. Dried herbs are better sources of nutrients and medicinal properties and are best made into infusions.

    Alcohol will dissolve and extract resins, oils, and alkaloids. It does not extract nutrients such as vitamins or minerals, but it does extract sugars, starches, and hormones.

    Vinegar is the best menstruum for dissolving minerals out of plants. Apple cider vinegar -- pasteurized, please -- is my favorite choice.

    Fats and oils extract the oily and resinous properties of an herb, many of which are strongly antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and wound-healing.

    Traditional Chinese Medicine has many methods of preparation, and even the manner in which the herb is cut for drying is considered critical to the medicine. In addition to the commonly available forms of herbs (teas, tinctures, ointments, capsules), they also roast herbs, smoke herbs, fry herbs, and cook them with honey.

    4. How much to take? At last, a wonderful rhubarb pie! But better not eat more than one piece, or you'll be on the toilet all night. Plants of the East can generally be eaten in any quantity, even daily if necessary. Plants of the West need to be used in tiny amounts and rarely. Those from the South and North are used moderately, to correct and enliven the diet.

    The closer to the west the plant lies, the more critical the question of dose becomes. The difference between one cup of coffee and two is not so great, but the difference between one cup of digitalis and two is. The difference between 10 and 20 drops of most herbal tinctures is inconsequential, but the difference between 10 and 20 milligrams of a drug may be the difference between life and death. The question of dose is one that is hotly contested among herbalists, and, of course, the answers to the first three questions change the potency of the preparation and thus the answer to the fourth question.

    The difference between an herbal tea and an herbal infusion, or "standard brew" as Juliette de Bairacli Levy styles it, was for me, the difference between dabbling in herbs and using them effectively. So please pay attention here. This is important. To make an infusion: Place one ounce dried herb in a quart jar and fill it to the top with boiling water. Screw a tight lid onto it and allow it to sit, just like that, for at least 4 hours. (Can you hear the minerals dissolving, ever so slowly?) When your infusion is done, strain the plant material out, returning it to the earth, and drink the liquid, hot or cold or at room temperature. What you don't consume after straining is best kept in the refrigerator and drunk within 48 hours.

  • Tuesday, August 28, 2018 1:18 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Herbal Oil Infusion

    Making Infused Oils

    Excerpt from: Breast Cancer? Breast Health! the Wise Woman Way

    by Susun S. Weed





    Making Infused Oils


    ° Pick the plant on a dry, sunny day.


    ° Discard any diseased or soiled parts. Do not wash any part of the plant. If there is dirt on the plant, scrub it off with a stiff, dry brush.


    ° Chop the plant coarsely.


    ° Completely fill a clean, very dry jar with the chopped herb.


    ° Slowly pour oil into the jar, poking with a chopstick or knife to release air and make sure the oil penetrates into all layers of the herb.


    ° add enough oil to thoroughly cover all the plant material and fill the jar to the very rim. (As with preparing a tincture, it is really possible to fill that jar twice: once with herb and then again with the vehicle.)


    ° Cork the jar or screw on a lid.


    ° Label the jar with he name of the plant, the plant part used, the kind of oil used, and the date. Example: St. Joan's Wort, leaf and flower, olive oil, 21 June 1985.


    ° Keep the jar of infused oil at normal room temperature and on a surface that will not be ruined by seeping oil.


    ° Decant the infused oil in six weeks. The plants can be left in the oil longer, but have a tendency to mold and spoil if not kept very cool.


    ° Oil held in the plant material after the decanting can be extracted. Put small handfuls into a clean kitchen towel or cotton cloth; squeeze and wring out the oil.


    ° Allow the decanted oil to sit for several days while the water in it (from the fresh plant material) settles to the bottom of the jar. Then carefully siphon or pour off the oil, leaving the water behind.


    ° Store at cool room temperature or refrigerate.


    Trouble Shooting Infused Oils


    Mold grows readily in infused oils. the presence of any moisture on the herb or in the jar encourages mold growth.


    ° If the jar is not filled to the top, mold will grow in the air space left. To save your preparation, completely remove the mold and fill the jar to the top with fresh oil.


    ° If the jar was not totally dry when you filled it, mold will grow along the inside of the jar. Save your preparation by carefully pouring the oil and the plant material into a dry jar. Jars dried in the oven for five minutes immediately prior to use prevent this problem.


    ° If the jar is put in the sun or left near a heat source, the warmth will cause condensation inside the jar, providing the moisture necessary for colonies of mold. Remove the mold and pour oil and plant material into a fresh jar to save this.


    ° If the plant material was wet when combined with the oil, mold will grow throughout the oil. Saving it is impossible. Start again.


    Some herbs release gas as they infuse. You may notice bubbles moving in the oil; this is not a problem and does not indicate spoilage. Chickweed, Comfrey, and Yellow Dock are notable in their gas production when infused in oil. The gas will force some of the oil out of the jar (yes, even if tightly capped). Corked jars go pop! Rancidity occurs when there is plenty of heat and oxygen.


    Infused oils in an olive oil base resist rancidity at cool room temperature for several years. In very warm climates, adding the contents of a capsule or two of vitamin E to the decanted oil helps prevent rancidity. Tincture of Myrrh or Benzoin added to ointments also checks rancidity; use about ten drops of either per ounce of oil.


    Excerpt from: Breast Cancer? Breast Health! the Wise Woman Way

    by Susun S. Weed


  • Tuesday, August 28, 2018 11:40 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    The Medicine Wheel of Plant Uses
    by Susun Weed 




    There is so much to learn about herbs and healing. How can we assure ourselves of our own competence? How can we feel safe in our recommendations? How can we know which herb is best to use for a particular person? Do we need a system of diagnosis interlocked with categories of herbs? (For instance, the four humor theory that categorizes illnesses and herbs according to the humors, or the Ayurvedic system that divides people into three types and selects herbs accordingly.) These are questions that have concerned healers for thousands of years and still concern us today.


    I do not think the answer lies in a license. I don't think the answer is to study more, read more books or go to school, if what happens is that one picks up a dogma, and sticks to that. Neither license nor dogma guarantee that what we tell others to do for the sake of health will be safe or effective.


    The answer lies in our commitment to ourselves as whole human beings and our commitment to ease the suffering of others, in truth and beauty, in change, in compassion. When we commit to the wholeness in ourselves, we become open to the wholeness of all life, especially the wholeness of the green nations. Science divides things into parts so we can comprehend them. Art and nature teach us wholeness.


    Yes, the final say on how to use them is the plants themselves. The ultimate authority in herbal medicine is not a teacher, nor a book. The information you can trust is "from the horse's mouth," in this case, the plant's mouth.


    Learning to understand the language of the plants (some say the songs of the plants) is a long study, and it is not as easy to teach as scientific facts. Paradoxically, the rudiments of this language are easily learned and rapidly applied. Hearing the language of the plants requires hearing with the inner ears, looking with the inner eyes, and using the senses of taste and smell and touch.


    The Medicine Wheel of Plant Uses is a teaching tool I created to help us understand the language of the plants. It gives us a system by which to understand the different properties of plants. It provides us with confidence that we are hearing them correctly. Like all medicine wheels, it is a multi-purpose tool, and there are many lessons to be learned from it, but let us start with the title.


    First: I must admit to overstatement. This wheel does not include all possible uses for plants. Furthermore, it narrowly focuses on flowering plants, excluding mosses, ferns, mushrooms, yeasts, and other primitive plants. Dye plants, commercially useful plants, lumber plants, basketry plants -- in fact any plants not consumed by humans -- are not included. I might, more truthfully, have entitled it the "Medicine Wheel of Uses for Flowering Plants You Can Put in Your Mouth."


    Second: What is a medicine wheel? It is not a round drugstore or a wagon full of medicine. It is a sacred pattern, a kind of mandala. My native American teachers use medicine wheels to help us students remember the lessons. When they say "medicine," they mean power or energy, not a drug or a strong plant. (Unless they are discussing peyote, a very strong plant, which is not referred to by name, but as "medicine.") 


    Third: And a wheel? Well, a wheel is a circle in motion. Although this medicine wheel is a circle on a piece of paper, we must remember that it moves. Or, more precisely, the plants move around the medicine wheel. What makes them move? The four moving questions:

    1. What part of the plant is meant?

    2. When is that part harvested?

    3. How is that part prepared?

    4. How much is consumed?

    So I could have, less poetically, called my teaching tool "A Diagram of the Moving Power of Flowering Plants You Can Put in Your Mouth."


    When we look at any medicine wheel, we notice that it is divided into the four directions: East at the right, South at the bottom, West at the left, and North at the top. Each direction is associated with many symbols, and those symbols change according to the culture and homeland of the teacher and student. In this particular medicine wheel, the directions are associated with tastes and with symbols that work for me. If they are different from the associations that you normally use, I hope you will be willing to work with my choices, as changing them would change the integrity of the wheel as a teaching tool.


    Taste is one of the oldest senses. It is strongly linked with smell. In terms of recognizing plants, taste is one of the most dependable clues. The shape of a plant may change throughout its growing season, or life. But the taste (and the smell) remains remarkably consistent and clear.


    Though we can distinguish thousands of tastes (and smells), there are not a lot of words for tastes in English. The tongue is said to be able to distinguish sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. To these we could add tastes that are also sensations, such as hot, sour, astringent, burning, and sticky. And tastes that are colors such as a green. Japanese includes two interesting taste words: shibui, the taste of nut skins or an unripe persimmon, and egui, the taste of raw asparagus, amaranth, and Jerusalem artichoke. And then there are spicy tastes and pungent tastes and resinous tastes and aromatic tastes and terrible tastes (fetid, rank, rancid, rotten, mouldy, burnt). Important: Tastes and smells which are disgusting or strange are a potent indication that the plant is not good to put into your mouth. So don't. And if you already have, spit it out. Immediately. Thanks.


    In this medicine wheel, we will work with four primary tastes (blandly sweet, salty, horribly bitter, and aromatic) and four secondary tastes (fruity, green, edibly bitter, and spicy).


    To be continued next week...


  • Wednesday, August 22, 2018 1:01 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Summer Flash Supper




    As the days get longer, supper comes later and later and I look for fast dishes to get us fed before we realize how late we’ve been out playing.



    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tablespoons/30ml olive oil
    • 1 c/250ml cooked grain
    • 1 c/250 ml burdock stalk
    • 2c/500ml diced tomato
    • 4 oz/110g grated cheese

    Saute onion and garlic in oil in heavy skillet or casserole. Add cooked grain and heat through. Layer parboiled burdock stalk pieces, diced tomato, and lastly cheese on top of grain.


    Cover and cook on stove top, or cook in oven uncovered at 350 F/80 C, until cheese is melted.


    Recipe excerpt from Healing Wise

  • Tuesday, August 21, 2018 7:49 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Weed Walk with Susun Weed

    Let’s go to the Senecio swamp. Bring your field guides. Follow me. Hey! Goats! Do you want to go with us?


     



    Mayapple AKA American mandrake (Podophyllum peltatum)
    On the way to the swamp, let’s stop by the Mayapple patch. This emetic purgative is one of the most poisonous plants that grows in my forest. It is said to have been used by Native people to commit suicide. A concentrate from the roots is currently used in scientific medicine to burn off genital warts, sometime causing severe, even lethal, side effects. Contacting or consuming Mayapple during pregnancy is said to cause birth defects. Someone once made me a travel charm from a Mayapple: she made ritual with the plant, carefully dug the root that offered itself to her, dried it, wrapped it in red flannel, tied it with a colored string, and instructed me to put it in my suitcase to insure safe journeys. I did.




    Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens)
    Just a little further, and we’ll be at the swamp. But stop here for a moment and sit. This lovely, shiny, evergreen, paired-leaf creeper rewards those who get down to her level with her exquisite flowers. Two flowers are joined at the base and, eventually, form one red berry (see previous weed walk for photo) with two little stars on it: the partridgeberry, checkerberry, deerberry, twinberry. Grandmother Twylah Nitsch told us it was disrespectful to call it “squawvine or squawberry.” According to her, “squaw” is Native American slang for the male member! The leaves, as a tea, assist the kidneys and bring deeper sleep; they are classically used as a tonic during the last weeks of pregnancy to insure an easy birth.


  • Monday, July 16, 2018 7:30 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    The Shamanic Herbalist, part 2
    Susun Weed




    WHAT'S SCIENCE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

    Once upon a time, healing was considered an art. Healing was understood by all to be a complex interaction between the patient, the healer, the community of living people, the communities of the plants and animals (and insects and rocks and fish), the communities of the non-living people (such as ancestors, spirit guides, and archetypes) and that mysterious movement known by so many names: Creator, God/dess, All High.

    The healing arts included a keen knowledge of human behavior, a thorough knowledge of plants, a flair for the dramatic arts, especially singing/chanting and costuming/body painting, and a comprehensive knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry. (If you think these areas are not arts, look at the system used by Traditional Chinese Practitioners, which includes such "organs" as the triple heater and a dozen different pulses.)

    Art does not preclude or oppose science. Science is, after all, only the honest testing of ideas and the ability to observe clearly the confusing relationship of cause and effect. The best of science is deeply indebted to art. Art understands that science is left-brained and art is right-brained, and a whole brain includes both.

    Science, however, is not so easy with art. Science believes art is superstition. Science believes art is fuzzy, soft, not-replicable, and therefore untrustworthy. (It is interesting to me that the Liberal Arts University I attended - UCLA - required students to take a variety of science courses, but the Science College I turned down - MIT - did not require students to study the arts.) Science defines itself as factual and art as fantastical.

    Truly great scientists understand the need to honor intuition along with information. But the world is rarely run by the truly great. So bit by bit, the art of healing is denigrated and the science of healing is venerated. The healer spends more and more time interacting with machines and drugs and technology and less and less time with the patient; more and more time studying books and less and less time learning about the strange, symbolic, provocative powers of the psyche. The healer focuses more and more on fixing the sick individual and less and less on the patient's need for wholeness in self, family, and community.

    The herbalist becomes a biochemist. The pharmacist no longer needs to know botany. Herbs are presented as drugs in green coats. And the active ingredient is the only one worth mentioning.

    Is this what I want? Is this what drew me to herbs? Is this what fascinates me about herbal medicine? My answer to all these questions is absolutely NOT. While acknowledging the usefulness of science, I maintain the right-brain's superior abilities in the art of healing. I defend the rights of the miracle-workers, the shamans, the witch doctors, the old-wife herbalists, the wise women, those who have the skill, the personal power, and the courage to midwife the changes - large and small, from birth to death and in between - in the lives of those around them.


    Herbal medicine. Magical plants. Psycho-active plants. There is a thread here, and it goes a long way back. At least 40,000 years. The plants say they spoke with us all until recently. Forty thousand years ago we know our ancestors were genetically manipulating, hybridizing, and crossbreeding specific psychedelic plants. And using them in healing. Maria Sabina, one of the 20th Century's most renowned shamanic healers, went into the forest as a small child and ate psilocybin mushrooms because they spoke to her. She healed only with the aid of the "little people" (mushrooms) and she healed not just body but soul. In the Amazon, the students of herbalism, of healing, are apprenticed to psychoactive plants as well as to human teachers.

    There is a lot of talk lately about the active ingredients in plants. I've had many a chuckle as product ads claim to have the most of this or that only to be superseded by the announcement that a new, better, more active active ingredient has been found.

    For example, when Kyolic Garlic was shown by Consumer Reports to have virtually no allicin (the "active" ingredient), Kyolic countered with an ad campaign claiming superiority because it contained a different, stronger, active ingredient.

    For instance, most standardized St. John's/Joan's wort tinctures are standardized for hypericin. But the latest research shows that hyperforin is the real active ingredient!

    To illustrate: an article several years ago in JAMA on use of Ginkgo biloba to counter dementia explained that no active ingredient from among the several hundred constituents present had been determined and it was, in fact, likely that the effect resulted from a complex, synergistic interplay of the parts. An article in the New York Times, however, cautioned readers not to use ginkgo until an active ingredient had been established.

    It happened to me: An MD on a menopause panel with me told the audience that no herb was safe to use unless its active ingredient was measured and standardized. What can I say? To me the active ingredient of a plant is the very part that cannot be measured: the energy, the life force, the chi, the fairy of the plant, not a "poisonous" constituent. To the healer/artist/herbalist, the active part of the plant is that part that can be used by the right brain to actively, chaotically, naturally, "jump the octave" and work a miracle. This active part is refined away in standardized products, for the real active part is the messy part, the changeable part, the subtle part, the invisible part.

    Does science have anything to do with it? Certainly. The process of identifying specific compounds in plants, replicating them in the laboratory and mass-producing them as drugs cannot be replicated by or superseded by any healer or herbalist. Preparation of standardized drugs protects the consumer (usually) and protects the plants from over harvesting (although the net effect on the environment may be detrimental).

    If we put into the lap of science anything having to do with measuring and certifying, then surely I beg science to be the guardian of the purity of the herbs we trade in our commerce, knowing that art is the guardian of the purity of the herbs we gather ourselves. (A tip from the apprentice book: When harvesting, put only one kind of plant in a basket. This allows one to quickly and easily notice if an interloper has been mistakenly introduced.)

    This story doesn't have an ending, for it is ongoing. The dance of health and illness, of art and science (and don't forget commerce) has no pause. So the ending of our tale is not happy, but neither is it sad. Take a look; the real ending of the rainbow is in your own heart.

  • Tuesday, July 10, 2018 4:27 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    The Shamanic Herbalist

    Susun S. Weed


    You Are Invited to Be Part of the Shamanic Herbalists/Healers Association (SHA).


    SHA is an invisible association. There are no board meetings, no dues, no membership drive, no fund raising. This association is a figment of our imaginations. As such, it is always changing. 


    The purpose of this association is to define the characteristics of the shamanic (aka, wise woman) herbalist/healer and, by doing so, to claim a space which cannot be defined and limited by law or licensing bodies.


    I'm Against Licensing Herbalists

    Ever since I went to my first herbalist's gathering two decades ago, there has been one topic guaranteed to elicit raised voices: Shall herbalists be licensed? My position has always been an unequivocal "NO!" I believe that shamanic healer/herbalists especially have everything to lose and nothing to gain from being licensed, accredited, tested, or certified in any manner whatsoever.


    Before we go on to the things we can do we keep our "profession" vital and on the beauty way, I would like to share a little of my life with you, a few of the experiences that have shaped the way I think about healing, healers, herbs, and shamans..


    What Midwives Can Tell Us About Licensing

    My sister and many of my friends are, or were, midwives. Some are certified nurse midwives, some lay midwives, all are well-trained, experienced, skilled, and wise. Barely ten percent of them are working as midwives. Most are disgruntled, discouraged, and depressed about their ability to offer real individualized care to their clients. They sought to license and police themselves, for fear that outside forces would do it if they didn't. And they licensed themselves into oblivion. Rather than insuring the freedom to help women give birth, midwives find themselves now bound with laws, rules, regulations, protocols, fear of losing one's license, and insurance demands.


    I Trust the Chaos of the Universe

    In order to issue a license, one must quantify, score a test, determine the measure of a human's knowledge and wisdom, define, lay out the rules, say how it should be. But birth doesn't follow rules. Neither does life. Nor healing. Nor do herbs.


    Herbs can change their constituents dramatically in response to being grazed, overgrazed, attacked by insects or molds, experiencing drought or flood, suffering from lack of nutrients, poisoned by too much, or a host of other variables. The scientific drive to quantify active ingredients in herbs creates herbal products that are as dangerous as drugs. I am an herbalist because I believe nature's infinite variety, expressed in the herbs, offers more health/wholeness/holiness than the standardized, sanitized remedies of orthodox medicine.


    What Can We Do?

    How can we continue to practice as shamanic herbalists/healers, as wise women, in the face of pressures to mainstream, certify, and license alternative medicine and its practitioners.


    I propose that we define ourselves. That we make ourselves visible in words and thereby declare clearly the impossibility, illegality (according to cosmic law), and absurdity of trying to license shamanic herbalists/healers. Let us present ourselves to ourselves, each other, and our communities--as we have always done, through story, song, dance, and drama, and now through defining words--so that the weave of everyone's reality is touched by a shamanic thread, and our work is kept safe from restriction by the language of law.


    Though it is a daunting task, it is necessary to undertake it and possible to do it. What are the characteristics of the shamanic healer? What ought a shamanic healer not do? I envision a discussion that takes place in person, in print, on the Web, by letters, and in the dreamtime.


    Here's my list of the characteristics of shamanic herbalists/healers. It isn't meant to be definitive, but to spark discussion. I hope it will be copied, circulated, changed. 


    Characteristics of shamanic herbalists/healers:

    1 * Shamanic healers and herbalists answer solely to the universal "way" as their as their authority and as such cannot be restricted by the language of men's law, for such language constitutes an unfair restriction upon the practices, livelihood and life of the shamanic healer.


    2 * Shamanic healers and herbalists work without regard for payment, but absolutely insist on being honored for the work they do. Any healer who withholds treatment until payment is made is guilty of blackmail and is not to be considered a shamanic healer.


    3 * Shamanic healers and herbalists use the plant and animal resources of their locality as their healing allies. These resources are harvested in a way that sustains or builds their abundance and diversity. The plants and animals are accorded power, dignity, and sentience. They are addressed directly, prayed to, and usually thanked ritually as well as actually.


    4 * Shamanic healers and herbalists frequently use power plants in their work. Power plants include indigenous natural (not synthetic) psychoactives such as psilocybin, tobacco, datura, peyote, marijuana, coco leaves, and the like. Trafficking in such plants is not typical of the shamanic healer, who may, nonetheless, supply apprentices with these plants for the purposes of their studies, and keep a personal supply of up to two year's worth of such power plants. These practices are not to be infringed upon by the language or intent of man's law, as such restrictions unfairly prevent the shamanic healer from accessing certain kinds of information.


    5 * Shamanic healers and herbalists may be very limited in their ability to read, write, figure sums, or otherwise function in the modern world. To try to conceive of a written test which could give any information which would be of use in determining the worth of a shamanic herbalist/healer is to enter the realm of the absurd.


    6 * Shamanic healers may also be quite limited in their understanding of anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and other modern medical necessities. Nonetheless, each shamanic healer has a "story" about the nature of the world(s) s/he inhabits, and a vision of the health/wholeness toward which the individual patient is moving.


    7 * Shamanic healers frequently use drama to potentize healing. Community enactments, melodic messages, rhythmic movements, colorful visions, memorable aromas, and more are interwoven in the work of shamanic healers and herbalists. Expect the unexpected here, the unique, the gift of the moment.


    8 * Shamanic healers respect the power of kundalini/life force and therefore do not engage in sexual release with their patients/clients. This is not to say that shamanic healers and herbalists do not flirt! On the contrary, their are often very raunchy, suggestive, and lewd. But they never cross the line from loving, healing touch to frank sexual need/exchange. Anyone who implies or suggests that their healing power can be best accessed through sexual connection is not a shamanic healer.


    9 * Shamanic healers support and direct the processes which are common to all of us--birth, initiation, and death--in ways that are unique to the culture and the individual, but which are always characterized, in true shamanic healing, by the intention to honor the person involved and to increase the person's self-confidence and self-acceptance.


    10 * Shamanic healers are passionate and compassionate. They move easily into joy, anger, and grief, knowing that all feelings can be healers and liberators. Shamanic healers know few fears. They approach life and healing as a cosmic joke, always ready to laugh first at themselves.


    11 * Shamanic healers don't claim to have the answer or know the answer or be the answer; they remind us that the answer lies within ourselves.


    To Be Continued...


  • Monday, July 09, 2018 8:52 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Phytoestrogenic herbs are usually too powerful for long- term use. From the list below (which is in alphabetical order), it is safest to use only one herb at a time, and use it only when needed, although that may mean daily use for several months. More information about these herbs, including specific dosages and cautions, is in New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way.

        Agave root, black cohosh root, black currant, black haw, chasteberries, cramp bark, dong quai root, devil's club root, false unicorn root, ginseng root, groundsel herb, licorice, liferoot herb, motherwort herb, peony root, raspberry leaves, rose family plants (most parts), sage leaves, sarsaparilla root, saw palmetto berried, wild yam root, yarrow blossoms.

        4. Most of the warnings about phytoestrogenic herbs center on their proven ability to thicken the uterine wall in animals who have had their ovaries removed. This could encourage cancer, just as taking ERT encourages cancer of the uterus by stimulating cell growth. Women without ovaries are probably safe eating phytoestrogenic foods, but may want to use phytoestrogenic herbs - especially ginseng, dong quai, licorice, red clover, and wild yam - in small amounts and only for short periods.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    Recent studies indicate black cohosh does not suppress luteinizing hormone, has no estrogenic effect, and contains no compounds related to estrogen. Red clover flower heads contain many hormone-like flavonoids, including isoflavone, daidzein, genistein, formononetin, biochanin, sitosterol, and coumestrol, a particularly strong phytoestrogen (six times more active than the one in soy). Red clover contains all four major estrogenic isoflavones; soy has only two of them. A cup of red clover infusion (not tea) contains ten times more phytoestrogens than a cup of soy beverage, is richer in calcium, has less calories, and contains no added sugars.

        Researchers in Australia report a million lambs a year are aborted after sheep eat clover on pasture. Yet red clover is renowned as a fertility enhancer. What's up? Stephen Buhner, author of The Secret Language of Plants, says clover plants make blood-thinning compounds (which cause abortion) when overgrazed, but don't otherwise. Plants, it turns out, can fight back.

        When unfermented soy takes the place of animal protein (meat and milk), its anti-nutritional factors can create brittle bones, thyroid problems, memory loss, vision impairment, irregular heartbeat, depression, and vulnerability to infections. Unfermented soy is high in hemoglutin, which causes clumping of red blood cells and may increase risk of stroke. It is also impressively rich in aluminum (up to 100 times more than is found in the same amount of real milk). Eating tofu more than once a week doubled the risk of Alzheimer's in a small group of Japanese men studied for thirty years.

        Human gut bacteria can cleave a sugar molecule from wild yam's steroidal saponin, producing diosgenin. Labs make progesterone from diosgenin, but our bodies can't. Diosgenin itself has a weak estrogenic effect. According to Australian herbalist Ruth Trickey: "A more probable explanation [for the observed effects of wild yam] ... is that [diosgenin] interacts with hypothalamic and pituitary hormones and ... initiates ovulation."

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