Wise Woman Herbal Ezine

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  • Tuesday, October 29, 2013 5:18 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Weed Walk

    Grapes grow wild all over where I live. They grow in the deep woods, with monster vines flying hundreds of feet up into the trees. They grow in the garden, if you let them, and sprout from every cut with vigor, twining and climbing. They grow where the lawn meets the trees, looping and tangling, tripping the deer, offering refuge for birds.

    According to Eating on the Wild Side, eating the fox grapes – or some varieties of cultivated grapes – that festoon the woods, gardens, and edges of my world are one of the best ways to lengthen life and help prevent a host of chronic diseases. Drinking grape juice, eating grapes, or eating raisins has been shown to markedly increase the activity of the brain, increase the flexibility of the arteries, lower blood pressure, thin the blood, reduce the risk of blood clots, slow the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and protect breast cells from the effects of chemicals, says author Jo Robinson.

    Wild grapes not only irritate my lips when I eat them raw, they are so incredibly tart that it is hard to eat more than one or two. So this year I experimented with “cooking” my fox grapes, to see if I could make better use of the bounty surrounding me. Of the five ways of cooking – heating, freezing, fermenting, dehydrating, and covering with oil – the fourth, dehydration beckoned. Grapes into raisins is an easy way for those of us who don’t drink wine to reap the benefits of more grapes than can be eaten. I harvested the grapes late in the afternoon, when they were sun-warmed, laid them on my cookie cooling racks set into a lipped cookie sheet and put them in my gas oven which has a pilot and so stays at 110-112 degrees F.

    In three days, I had lovely, chewy, delicious raisins that did not sting my lips. Happy Susun :)

    Wild fruits often taste better after the first light frosts, so don’t hesitate to try this now.

    Green – and purple – blessings are everywhere.

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  • Tuesday, October 29, 2013 5:07 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    31 October 2013

    The wheel of the year is turning, turning.
    Gateway between the worlds stirs.
    The veil grows thin.
    Celebrate the change. Halloween, Samhain (Saw-ween), Day of the Dead.
    The wheel of the year is turning; it is turning into darkness.
    Spirits of the Ancestors, hear us.
    Spirits of the Ancients, we will feed you.
    Blood in our veins, yours.
    The wheel of the year is turning, turning, turning into winter.
    The veil grows thinner.
    Gateway between the worlds stretches.
    Frost comes killer quick leaves black.
    Spirits of the Old Ones, we feel you stirring.
    Cut the nettle right to the ground.
    The veil disappears.
    The gateway dissolves.
    The wheel turns.
    Listen for ice.
    Cut cronewort for dream pillows.
    They are here. Put out the feast.
    Vampires fear garlic.
    Witches melt when wet.
    Watch for shooting stars.

    We had a fantastic, fun, productive Halloween work weekend at the Wise Woman Center: We pressed apple cider, made apple sauce, cleared part of the goat barn, started a compost pile, cut herbs in the gardens and made anti-oxidant-rich herbal vinegars, covered some garden beds with finished compost, raked some leaves, took down some dried herbs and bagged them, picked wild salads, and frolicked with the goats. Since we didn’t finish any of it, there is still plenty to do on our next work weekend, November 9-10. This work weekend will include a special field trip to a local production of Dracula on Saturday night. Come work and play with us and the goats. The Ancestors insist!

    Chicory continues to brighten the mornings and evenings with her brilliant blue flowers. The light frost seem to have deepened the color of the blooms until they verge on indigo or ultra violet. An invitation to those who wish to work more clearly with their third eye energy.

    We continue to find red clover, wild carrot, and dandelion flowers to gladden our salads and our hearts. Remember! Green blessings are everywhere.


    p.s. Check out the grapes on the next page. Grapes are one of the world’s original health foods.

    And, mentored students, there is a special garlic supplement for you.
    Happy Halloween everyone!!

    Weed Walk ~ Click Here

  • Wednesday, October 23, 2013 1:11 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Earth-Friendly Organic Halloween Makeup
     by Dayna Colvin

    Next to Christmas and Thanksgiving, Halloween is one of the most celebrated honored holidays of the year. It never ceases to amaze me how many people get into the spirit of the holiday and enjoy the festivities. 2,000 years ago, Halloween was a very sacred holiday celebrated by the Celtic people in the ancient British Isles. It was a holiday celebrated by Druids, Witches and Wiccan Covens, Fairies, Elves, and various other Celtic Tribes. On All Hallows' Eve, as it was called back then, the Druids would go from door to door holding an empty basket asking for fruit and whatever treats the residents would give them. Later in the evening, everyone would gather together in a festival, dancing, singing, playing, and enjoying the foods they were given.

    Many centuries later, Halloween is still a celebrated holiday, but today things have drastically changed. People still enjoy wearing costumes, pretending to be their alter ego. They also enjoy going door to door saying, "trick or treat" and asking for sweet treats, but the tradition has vastly changed. Halloween is probably one of the most expensive holidays. As soon as the summer begins to fade, stores begin stocking up for Halloween and the Christmas Holiday Season. Throughout the store, you’ll see the regular merchandise combined with racks upon racks of new Halloween paraphernalia.

    One of the biggest traditions of Halloween is the wild and elaborate costumes people design. Many people go with the traditional Angels, Ghosts, Devils, and Superheroes, while others opt for outlandish costumes, portraying celebrities in Hollywood. The costumes are usually cute, colorful, and beautiful and the makeup is a process all to its own. Dressing up and playing make believe, pretending to be someone or something else for a day is fun and exciting. It is a beautiful way to express the inner child. The problem is that the makeup and hair goo that is used to complement the costumes is usually toxic, smelly, and very harmful to the health. It’s fun to dress up and wear wild and zany colorful makeup and create funny wild hairdos that get attention. But when these products contain toxic petrochemicals, the fun disappears.

    I remember attending Halloween parties with friends and I always had a great time dressing up and checking out everyone’s getup. We always had such a great time trying to guess what someone was supposed to be and admiring the elaborate costume designs. Unfortunately, there was also a down side. Each person had bright or dark colorful thick makeup on and colorful hairspray with funky silver and gold streams sticking out of their hair. As soon as I would get close to someone, I would have trouble breathing, would start coughing, and I’d make a mad dash for the bathroom. At first, I thought I was crazy and I couldn’t understand what was wrong until years later.

    When my husband and I began learning about holistic natural living, we began to question and analyze all the holidays. We were invited to a couple parties, but we started turning down invitations. I was no longer interested in wearing funky or sexy costumes with wacky colorful makeup because I couldn’t find anything fun that was non-toxic. All those crazy facial makeup applicators and the silver and gold aerosol junk you put in the hair are permeated with toxic petrochemicals. That shiny silver and gold stuff that you use to draw lines and decorations around your eyes and on your cheeks is filled with petroleum, potentially toxic food dyes, and horrible fragrance.

    Those petrochemicals contain coal tar, the same smelly toxic chemicals that are used to pave roads and repair leaky roofs. Essentially, you’re putting gasoline on your face and in your hair! If you find this gross and appalling, then you’re paying attention. It’s cheap and massively distributed to all cheap dollar stores and can make people very ill. The fumes from the adulterated scented products pollute the air, groundwater, and wildlife.

    An ugly horror is the fact that when toxic petrochemicals - pesticides, lawn treatment chemicals, perfumes, commercial fertilizers, and various other toxic petrochemicals - are sprayed into lawn grasses, trees, foliage, and flowers, the Fairies are usually present, hovering around the plant-life, caring for and being Stewards for these plants. The harsh petrochemicals are sprayed right into the Fairies' faces, suffocating them, choking them, and making them severely ill! It is an absolute horror and it cannot continue!

    The Fairies are delicate, fragile, vital integral parts of the Mystical, Spiritual, Unseen world and they rely on us to protect and respect them and their world. The Fairies carefully watch over and act as protective stewards to the Plant and Animal Kingdom and they need to be in good health to continue their vital work. This won't happen if their air is being made toxic with harmful toxic pollutants. The packaging winds up in a toxic landfill, where the toxic plastic will never biodegrade.

    If you want to have fun and get dressed up in some wild funky colorful costumes and makeup, opt for something that is safe enough to eat. Aubrey Organics and Aveda make some beautiful makeup, including some playful, funky, wild colors. There’s no reason that you can’t have fun in a non-toxic earth-friendly manner. Pure organic plant essences are safer for the environment and the recycled packaging they come in can either be reused or recycled. The cheap inexpensive little makeup applicators you find in the bargain stores are better off ignored.

    A really good way to enjoy Halloween and the Holiday Season is to make your own non-toxic earth-friendly makeup and check out some books with some good non-toxic tips. This Halloween, make a strong statement that tells the world that you genuinely care about Mother Earth and all Her Beautiful Creatures. Show the world that you know what it means to be a Pagan and that you are no longer willing to patronize those companies that only care about profit margin, even if it means polluting the environment.

    A true Pagan honors all the Natural Elements, the Moon, the Sun, the Stars, and knows the true meaning of respecting Mother Earth. Getting dressed up in your favorite colorful costume with festive makeup isn’t about playing games and acting foolish. Halloween is a special day about honoring our Spiritual Ancestors and Honoring the Spiritual Unseen World. The best thing we can do to protect and respect the Fairies, Spirit, and Unseen World and correct this horrible problem is to become avid strict label readers and vote with our wallets.

    Say “No” to greedy multi-nationals! Say “Yes” to organic, green, earth-friendly conscious companies that care about Mother Earth, the humans, and the animals. Eat, live, shop, and be Green! Shopping at your local health food store and purchasing only those products and items that are 100% green, organic, and earth-friendly, non-toxic is the best thing people can do to contribute to a cleaner greener Earth and reduce our footprint upon Mother Earth.

    Dayna Colvin resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. They are happy new parents of an adorable beautiful wonderful 19 month old sweet baby boy and 2 adult cats, their furry babies.  Their plant-based vegetarian, natural living diet and holistic, environmentally conscious lifestyle keeps them vibrant and youthful.  Dayna is an advocate of environmental awareness and as a voice for compassion for animals. She has worked with Greenpeace and other similar organizations in raising awareness to the importance of wholeness, as well as environmental understanding.

    Upon seeing the dramatic positive results from her choices, Dayna decided to share her knowledge, wisdom, and experience with the world. This resulted in a series of articles and prose, as well as three non-fiction alternative health books and two unique visionary environmental adventure novels. Her book, "Keep Your Vanity Without Losing Your Sanity," teaches people how to can enjoy clean, organic, non-toxic, earth-friendly beauty, using only 100% pure organic plant essences, completely FREE of harmful petrochemicals.

    In her book, she shows people how to distinguish and discern the truth from the lies that the multi-nationals are so good at shoveling with their obscene million-dollar advertising.  She teaches people the basic fundamentals of reading a product label and she introduces them to the natural world. To read more about Dayna and her writing, please visit the following web site: www.notperfume.com

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  • Wednesday, October 23, 2013 12:14 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Halloween Salad

    serves 4

    • 16 dandelion leaves
    • 8 mallow leaves
    • big handful of wild oregano tops
    • as much wild mint as you like
    • 40 sheep sorrel leaves
    • 12 lemon balm tops
    • 16 garlic mustard leaves
    • lots of chickweed
    • 8 violet leaves
    and finished with
    • red clover blossoms
    • dandelion and chicory flower petals
    • wild carrot flowers
    • mallow flowers
    • the last of the nasturtiums\

    ~ Article - Earth-Friendly Organic Halloween Makeup ~

  • Wednesday, October 23, 2013 12:01 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Weed Walk Two

    Garlic mustard (Alliaria officinalis)
    Whether you eat the leaves in salad, cook the leaves as a bitter green (so good for digestion), make a vinegar of the roots, or turn the roots into a horseradish-y condiment, you will soon find yourself smiling whenever you see this “invasive weed” carpeting the waysides of roads and paths. What a great way to strengthen immunity and go into winter feeling strong.

    (Stellaria media)

    Now the ground is greening all around the compost piles with the little star lady, chickweed. Her big sister, the giant chickweed is re-greening after providing salad material all summer and both of them are delicious in salads. It is not too late to make great vaginal lubricating chickweed oil or cyst-dissolving chickweed tincture.


    I don’t pick many violet leaves during the spring or summer; I wait until fall and harvest them in great quantity. (But never more than half the leaves from any one plant.) I know that violet leaves are a fantastic source of vitamin A and I figure they ought to be richest in this antioxidant vitamin just before they are going dormant. They taste really nice in the fall, too.

    Red clover blossoms
    (Trifolium pratense)

    Isn’t it nice to see the red clover blooming? The sight of these flowers always opens my heart to the joy of life. Whether I stop for a moment on the way to the barn to milk or whether I am harvesting them to decorate my salad, I imbibe bliss. It is too late to pick red clover to dry for infusion as the blood thinning qualities are at their peak in the autumn blooms.

  • Wednesday, October 23, 2013 11:53 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Weed walk one

    Dandelion  (Taraxacum officinale            
    I know all the books say to eat dandelion leaves in the spring, but I think they taste much, much better in the fall. Everyone at class agreed, too, so on Sunday they harvested lots and lots of tender, sweet dandelion leaves and flowers for the salad. Then they went out and dug dandelion roots and made root tincture and root/leaf/flower vinegar. Nice!

    Mallow (Malva neglecta
    The mallows are happy that the nights are cold. They thrive in the fall and spring. Especially this creeping, weedy one that like to hang out where the goats do. For some reason the goats don’t eat it, but we do. The leaves, flowers and any seeds go right in the salad. The root could be dug up and dried for use in infusions or tinctured. This little mallow is the sister of marsh mallow, a very soothing medicine.

    Wild oregano  
    Lucky for us, this wild mint doesn’t taste strongly of oregano; the flavor is mild with just a hint of aroma. And now that it is past flowering, lots of the tender tops are going in the salad. I used to make wild oregano vinegar, with some cloves of garlic to amp the flavor. But I have so many other favorite vinegars, including garlic scape vinegar, that I haven’t used wild oregano  for anything but salad in years.

    Sheep sorrel
    (Rumex acetosella

    An amazing patch of this super sour plant sprang up right behind the barn, so our autumn salads have been rife with it. The leaf stalks can be a bit stiff, so we leave them behind when we harvest. The leaves are crisp and loaded with vitamin C, a great way to nourish the immune system to get ready for winter.

  • Wednesday, October 23, 2013 11:46 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Green Greetings!

    Let me catch my breath. This fall has seen me off and on lots of airplanes.

    Most recently, to the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference, a wonderful event created by my past apprentice, Corinna Wood, one of four past apprentices who have brought annual (and semi-annual) women’s (mostly) herbal conferences into being. What a blessing! I am so thankful that the Wise Woman Tradition is thriving.

    Highlights of my time at the SEWHC:

         Eating dinner with Sally Fallon and discussing organizing MEAL, Meat-eating Animal Lovers, an organization that will promote family farms and sensible meat eating and her new book on broths.

         Being there for Sally at the book signing with my goat cheese to tide her over until dinner. Whew! (I always travel with goat cheese!)

         Connecting with Corinna and hearing her say she is stepping up and taking on more responsibility to make the Wise Woman Tradition visible and available to all women. (I love you Corinna; and you already do lots and lots.)

         A wild midnight ride on the golf cart with a drunk mother. (We did not let her drive.)

         Being invited by the Soil Sisters (the ‘tweens group) to tell them why I so strenuously object to being addressed as “You guys.” I am not a guy.

         Being told many times that my books make a difference in women’s lives. (I experience such joy and delight in knowing that my work assists you.)

         Lunch at the Biltmore Estate after the conference with Corinna’s mother.

    This past weekend I taught the last two classes of the year at the Wise Woman Center. We were gifted with beautiful weather and lots of fall foliage. We made wild salads both days. In the picture gallery you will find a photo of Sunday’s exquisite salad, along with close ups of the ingredients.

    Winter is nearly here. Don’t stop eating wild foods. There is still plenty to enjoy. Soak in the warmth of the late autumn sun and see how many of our salad plants you can find.

    Green blessings.

    ~ Weed Walk One ~

  • Tuesday, October 01, 2013 1:01 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Making Wild Herb Vinegars

    by Corinna Wood

    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. In fact, if you have garden beds, you probably know that chickweed loves rich garden soil and thrives in the cool, wet weather of Fall and Spring. 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 you're harvesting chickweed for vinegar, don't forget to set aside some for tonight's 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!

    To use your harvest, follow these easy steps:

    1. 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.

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

    3. 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.

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

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

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

    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.




    Corinna Wood is a wise woman, herbalist, teacher, visionary and mother. Over the last twenty years, Corinna has opened the hearts of thousands to the wisdom of the plants, the earth, and their own bodies.


    Corinna is the founder of Southeast Wise Women, which is hosting its ninth annual Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference, October 11-13, 2013 in Asheville, NC. She lives with her son at Earthaven Ecovillage in Black Mountain, NC, where she was an early member.






                                             Part Four - Tomatillo Recipe

  • Tuesday, October 01, 2013 12:51 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Lacto-Fermented Tomatillo Relish

              with thanks to Sally Fallon          

    3 cups finely diced tomatillo (or green tomato)
    1 cup finely diced onion
    1 bunch of parsley, minced
    2-4 cloves garlic, minced
    4 tablespoons whey*
    1 tablespoon sea salt
    ½ cup water if needed


    Add the first four ingredients, one at a time, to a wide-mouthed quart canning jar, pressing and stirring with your hand or a wooden pounder until the ingredients are mashed and mixed and their juices are flowing. Then mix in the whey and sea salt. Add water only if needed to fill the jar to the top with liquid. The top of the relish needs to be at least an inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for two days. Then refrigerate until ready to eat, at least three weeks later. No peeking! The fermentation can take a turn for the worse if exposed to the air at the wrong moment.


    * Buy some plain yogurt and let it sit for a while. The clear liquid that collects at the top is whey. Use it in this recipe.    



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  • Tuesday, October 01, 2013 12:09 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    A Tomato By Any Other Name

    The tomato family has lots of interesting members. Let’s look at a few I have seen this past week. (Frost is coming, and the tomatoes will be killed, but not yet, as of the end of September.)

    Cherry Tomato Flowers

    Look at these magnificent cherry tomato flowers. (Great shot Justine.) In this family the flower can have 5-8 petals, which sometimes look like a star, with separate petals, and sometimes looks like a bell, with the petals connected. There is always that beak in the middle, and the upward, outward flare of the petals. Let’s see how this flower and the fruit it bears changes as we trace it back in time.

    Tomatillos are closer to wild tomato than cherry tomatoes. This means they are easier to grow, more resistant to pests, and sturdier through adverse weather conditions. And that means they have denser nutrition and more flavor. You can see in these photos that the sepals (the sepals remain on the cherry tomato like a green star) of the tomatillo flowers grow as the flower falls off. They form a husk that covers the fruit throughout its formation and its ripening, and protect it from rot even when it falls to the ground. I notice that the husk around the tomatillo keeps it from rotting in storage. And when one does go off, it isn’t so likely to spoil its storage neighbors. Tomatillos are not as versatile as tomatoes, but even a little added to your diet can make a difference in your overall health.

    tomatillo flowers, open tomatillo fruits

     Tomatillo Flowers, Open                                    Tomatillo Fruits

    Husk Tomato
    Here are the sepals of the husk tomatoes busy protecting their most delicious fruit. The little tomato hiding within this husk is so sweet it makes super sweet cherry tomatoes taste sour. It is really like a little piece of candy. The browner the husk, the riper, and sweeter the fruit within. I need to stop eating these as a snack and start thinking of some way to cook them. Husk tomato pie? Small as they are, they are power packed with nutrition, being just a step away from the wild tomato.

    husk tomato

    Wild Tomato Flowers
    This plant appeared in my meadow without much fanfare. It was instantly recognizable (by the leaves) as something in the tomato family, but whether a gift or a pest was yet to be seen. It has been producing these husked fruits for a few days now, I have yet to taste them, but I am hoping for the best. This year two apple trees that grew from seeds in the compost bore fruit (after seven years of growth) and – amazing grace – they are producing edible, actually sweet and crisp and very yummy, apples, which is a great rarity. Usually apple trees that grow from seeds have inedible fruits.

    wild tomato flowers

    All Manner of Tomatoes
    Here are the fruits of cherry tomatoes (front), tomatillos (in tray, larger), and husk tomato (in tray, small). Check out the recipe for Lacto-Fermented Tomatillo Relish [link] if you have access to this nearly wild tomato. Be sure to remove the husks from the tomatillos and the husk tomatoes before eating them. For a treat, saute halved cherry tomatoes in a little olive oil with garlic, minced parsley, and some calamata olives, stoned and cut in quarters.




                                                                     Part Three

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