Wise Woman Herbal Ezine

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  • Tuesday, August 05, 2014 10:02 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Green and abundant  greetings to you all.

    The feast of the first harvest is upon us. The hay fields are cut. The grain is threshed. The first bread is baked. The grapes are ripe. The berries are flush upon the brambles. The bear is fat and happy and so are we.

    Are you starting to feel the pressure of the gathering dark? The pressure to harvest one more jar of yarrow to tincture before all the blossoms brown up. The desire to get one more jar of St. J’s oil brewing from the last of her flowers. The struggle to find more storage space for the remedies already made. The wish for a bigger drying room as you eye the mullein still to be hung, the comfrey still to dry, the lavender, the mint, the green, the green, the green!

    Let the pressure be a hug, a reassuring hug. Relax into the pressure of gathering and storing for the coming days of dark. Trust yourself, trust nature. You will have what you need. You will be grateful for what you have. Allow yourself to be delighted with the work you need and want to do. Let your joy bubble up and overflow.

    Sure, life is hard, harsh, painful, unfair, and not as we envision it. It has always seemed to me that the best thing to do in the face of that reality is to wring as much pleasure as I can from whatever I am doing. I simply do not allow myself to do any task, large or small, with resentment. If I cannot find the pleasure in the work, then why am I doing it? If I must do it, then enjoying it is the best antidote.

    Simple rituals help us remember the joy, and the sacredness, of every moment. I light a pink candle every evening as an offering to the healing of all, especially those I have been in contact with that day. That small ritual brings real joy to me and allows me to fall asleep quickly and deeply. Do you have a ritual to end the day and empty your mind? Burning a bit of sweet grass is another favorite way to end the day. Ummm.

    Green blessings are everywhere.

    ps  There is a mushroom walk this weed, just for you. And a photo of the next plant we need for our Third Eye Opening Brew: purple loosestrife.  Plus some thoughts on drying corn silk.

    ~ Mushroom Walk ~

  • Tuesday, July 22, 2014 7:16 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Third Eye Opening Blend

    This blend consists of tinctures of three flowers: 2 parts cronewort, 1 part chicory, 1 part loosestrife.

    I do my best to harvest each one at the full moon, or a few days before.

    Chicory (Chicorium intybus) in July

    Go out early in the morning when the chicory flowers are open and collect as many as you can. I prefer to fill a baby food jar half full of 100 proof vodka and add the flowers to it as they wilt very quickly.

    Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) in August

    A hardy flower, but you may get wet harvesting it. Make no more of this tincture than you were able to make of the chicory flower tincture. Use only the flowers, no leaves, no stalks. I will remind you with a photo next month to make your tincture.

    Cronewort (Artemisia vulgaris) in September


    Wait for it. This recipe will be continued.

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  • Tuesday, July 22, 2014 7:05 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Marinated Watermelon Salad 

    Adapted from a recipe by Carrie Purcell

    I love marinated recipes. Letting fruit and vegetables sit overnight in oil is a great way to cook them. And my raw food friends are willing to consider marinated dishes as raw, so we all win!

    This is so simple, easy and quick to make. We gobbled down the first batch so fast that I had to make a second batch the next day. Great for lunch and dinner; it’s even good for breakfast.

    • Cut a watermelon into quarters and make cube about 2 inches on a side from one quarter. You will have about six cups of cubed watermelon. Save the juice.
    • Peel three young cucumbers (and remove seeds if necessary) and slice them as thin as possible. I get 50-60 slices from a medium cucumber. You will have about 3-4 cups of thinly-sliced cucumber.
    • Combine watermelon, cucumbers, watermelon juice, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons mint vinegar, and 1 teaspoon salt. I toss all ingredients into a gallon jar, screw the lid on, and shake to mix. Or mix in a bowl and then cover.
    Refrigerate overnight. Serve with fresh mint leaves if you like.

    ~ Shaman's Corner ~

  • Tuesday, July 22, 2014 6:10 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Weed Walk, Contd.

    Wild basil (Satureja vulgaris)
    What a beautiful flower. What a lack of scent. Whoever named this plant must have had a head cold. I have never met even one of these with the slightest scent. It’s a mint, so it is edible, but why bother.

    Red bergamot (Monarda didyma)
    Indeed, why bother with wild basil when red bee balm, aka monarda, aka Oswego tea, is to be had! This mint is tall, stately, and gorgeous. Tastes fantastic too. I use the flowers in summer salads; makes a great contrast with orange day lilies. I also make it into a vinegar and dry lots to use when I make my comfrey infusion. I add one dried stalk of red bergamot to each ounce of dried comfrey. Yum, yum. The other colors of this mint are considered more medicinal because they have more aromatic volatiles. They can be used, cautiously, in salads.

    Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
    Do not eat this pretty plant. Do not put it into salads or do anything else with it. In the fall, if you wish, you may dig the perennial roots and tincture them. Lots of uses for that tincture; all discussed in detail in my book New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way.

    Look at all the tinctures, oils, and vinegars the apprentices and I have made in the past month. Join us this Sunday and make some with us. Green blessings are everywhere.

    ~ The Recipe Box ~

  • Tuesday, July 22, 2014 5:45 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Weed Walk
    Here are some summer greens, ready to harvest right now.  And a few colorful characters for your salads, too. Plus one poisonous, but very medicinal plant, often found growing in flower borders under its new name Actea racemosa.

    Lamb’s Quarters (Chenopodium album)
    This green is good all season. Pick it when young, pick it when it is flowering, pick it when it is full of seeds. Whenever you pick it, pick the leaves off the stalks, for they are too tough to cook. Sure, it takes some work to pick the leaves off. It took two of us about 45 minutes to make a 2 pound bag a lamb’s quarter leaves ready to eat. Great nutrition for little effort.

    Amaranth (Amaranthus retroflexus)
    This green is only good before it flowers. But you don’t have to pick the leaves off the stalk, as the stalk is tender and cooks up well. Look for young plants, like this one, with no flower buds. If there are some flower buds starting up, pluck them out. Once flowering gets serious, there will be too many flower buds to easily remove. At that point, I just let it flower and  plan on harvesting the seeds in the fall.

    Mallow (Malva neglecta)
    I don’t usually cook this green, as it gets all slimy and reminds me of a childhood of okra loathing. Both the leaves and the flowers are delightful in salads, as are all its sisters and cousins that grow around me: Rose of Sharon, hibiscus, and musk mallow (Malva moschata). The roots of the mallow are the part used as medicine; but that will have to wait until after frost.

    ~ Weed Walk, contd. ~

  • Tuesday, July 22, 2014 4:21 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Green greeting from myself and from the Standing People: the Trees.

    Do you have a special tree that you love?

    Do you have a forest where you can go to rest and renew?

    The trees have mothered me since I was a little girl. (Though, truth to tell, the trees tortured me when I was young, too. There was an osage orange tree in the back yard that would hurl its soft-ball sized fruits at me whenever I was hanging the laundry out to dry.) I have always felt safe when in the woods, even knowing that there might be bears and wasps and lightning storms. The trees have always sheltered me, guided me, fed me, given me medicine.
    This Saturday we will spend “A Day with the Trees.” These Ancient beings have so much to share with us. And I am so honored to live among so many wise trees. Let me introduce you to some of my special friends in the forest.

    We will begin with birch. We will find the anti-cancer Fomes mushrooms that grow only on birch. (And we may find some edible mushrooms too.) We will meditate on the axis mundi of the centuries-old oak that shadows my garden. We will encounter hawthorn and willow, missey-moosey and cedar, pine and elm and ash, and so many more. And we will take the time to listen to them, in the silence. I hope you can join me for one of my favorite classes.

    Or join us Sunday for “The Great Remedies.” We will pick a wild salad and make some vinegars, tinctures, oils, and more with some of the most important, useful herbs available. We always have a great time when we roll up our sleeves and jump into the herbs, whether its yarrow or plantain, comfrey or clover, motherwort or day lily. There is so much to see and do in July!!

    Are you feeling the slowing down that comes after summer solstice? No longer rushing, not headlong with desire, freed from the urgency of spring and early summer, the foliage and our psyches relax with the shortening days.

    The tomatoes and eggplants swell lushly. The corn is tender and sweet. Greens abound. We are cooking the extra greens – kale, lamb’s quarter, amaranth, collards, beet greens, turnip greens, chard – and freezing them for delightful meals this winter. There is always at least one cooked green on the table for my evening meal, and sometimes two or three.
    Come with me for a weed walk and we will meet some greens (and a few colors). Or enjoy a summer recipe. And now is the time to get started on your Third Eye Opening Blend as well.

    Green blessings are everywhere.

    ~ Weed Walk ~

  • Monday, July 07, 2014 4:01 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Weed Walk

    Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
    Here is the beautiful and enchanting common milkweed, apparently a less common plant now than in the past, which is a problem for the butterfly that depends on milkweed alone as its nourishment. Probably best to restrict our use of it in honor of the butterflies. Euell Gibbons considered milkweed one of the best of the edible plants in terms of the variety of edibles it offers: The flowers are delicious and can be sprinkled in salads. Or try my Summer Milkweed Blossom Salad. The flower buds are fabulous when picked very early and cooked in three changes of water. The leaves may be eaten with caution; best if cooked. The seed pods, picked when very young and before they have seeds or fluff, and cooked in several changes of water are also tasty. The seeds themselves may be eaten, either green or mature. And though the fluff cannot be eaten, it does make a great insulating stuffing for clothing, beddings, and footwear.

    Mullein in flower (Verbascum thapsus)
    And here is the elegant and stately mullein, just starting to bloom. This is when I harvest it to dry. I cut the whole stalk right to the ground since it won’t grow back from a cut stalk (or from the roots). Watch out! Yellow jackets and hornets like to make nests under the lowest leaves of mullein. Umm, cozy and safe, warm and fuzzy. Remember to put chewed up plantain on it immediately if you do get stung. Mullein flower oil is an herbal classic, used for generations to alleviate earache and teething pain. Just fill a jar half full of pure olive oil or almond oil and add blossoms daily until the jar is packed full.

    Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
    I trust you are still harvesting red clover on a daily basis to dry for infusion. Did you know you can also make red clover wine? (Use the recipe in Healing Wise for dandelion wine, substituting red clover flowers for dandelion blossoms.) Have you made red clover oil? It softens hard growths and scaly skin. Have you tried red clover blossoms in your salad. (Tear them in halves or quarters first.) What else have you done with your red clover?

    Birch fungus (Fomes fomentarius)
    This strange looking thing is a mushroom, a shelf fungus. I don’t know of any poisonous shelf fungi. Most of them are hard, hard, hard, like these, which are harder than the wood they grow on! Shelf fungi, especially black ones like chaga and fomes, have a solid reputation for reversing cancers. The problem is getting the good from it. I have seen people saw them up into tiny pieces (preserving the saw dust), grind them in a metal-bodied VitaMix, smash them with a sledge hammer (tricky), and boil them for hours on end. Then (yes, then) a tincture is made. Whew! Tough medicine. Have you ever prepared this as a remedy? How did you do it?

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  • Monday, July 07, 2014 3:13 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    The Recipe Box

    Summer Milkweed Blossom Salad

    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.

    ~ Weed Walk ~

  • Monday, July 07, 2014 3:07 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Give-Away Breath Meditation

    The simple meditation, if done often, will open the fairy gates to you.

    Sit in a comfortable, safe place outside where there are plants. Smaller plants, rather than bigger ones. Wild plants, rather than cultivated ones.

    If necessary, you can sit inside and breathe with a plant in a pot; weeds in a pot, better. Naked you, best.

    Breathe out and give your breath away to the plant/s.

    Breathe in and feel gratitude for the oxygen the plants gift to you.

    Continue for ten minutes: breathing out and breathing in.
    It’s a dance between the plants and the people. Each gives what it can’t use, what is no longer needed, what is unwanted. And, miracle! It is the perfect gift for the other. The plants want the carbon dioxide that would poison us. And we, in turn, want their waste product: oxygen.

    Breathing out and breathing in. Slowly. Consciously.

    Every second, millions of cells in your body are dying and millions are being created. Each new cell is gifted with oxygen and nourishment, thanks to the plants.

    Breathe out your gratitude. Breathe in their bliss.

    ~ The Recipe Box ~

  • Monday, July 07, 2014 3:04 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Green Greetings!

    It’s Independence Day (a few days ago)

    It’s Gratitude for Dependence Day (right now)

    Hooray for Freedom and Independence!!

    And Gratitude for Dependence.

    Gratitude for the dependable Earth, the ever-shining Sun, and the humbling comfort of the stars.

    We are not alone. We are dependent on a host of other lives. We are part of and depend on our families, communities, and political systems. We are part of and dependent on the ecosystem of this planet: the plants and the animals, the microbes and the bacteria. We are part of sol’s solar system and we depend on the planets that share it with us to stay their courses, independence of motion not desired for members of a system! And our entire solar system is a tiny part of a large galaxy and dependent on the echoing memory of the big bang to keep things expanding, rather than colliding.

    Hooray for freedom. Gratitude for dependence.

    The Give-Away Breath Meditation brings us into the flow of gratitude and dependence. Every apprentice breathes with her green ally daily for at least ten minutes; in person, rain or shine, for the first ten days, then at a distance if weather of circumstance prevent personal contact.

    The Give-Away Breath Meditation is the first step for those desirous of talking with the plants. Being conscious, and grateful, for the breath we are given from the plants really brings home the message of green blessings: right into our hearts! (Oh! And don’t forget my new heart health class at the Wise Woman University.)

    So hooray for independence and hiphip hooray and gratitude for dependence too.
    Now, please join me on a short weed walk to meet some of the beauty I saw this week. Then, experiment with a new recipe: Summer Milkweed Blossom Salad. And be certain to give the Give-Away Breath a try today if possible. It’s a life-altering practice and the sooner you begin, the more you will benefit.

    Green blessings are everywhere.

    ~ The Shaman's Corner ~

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