Wise Woman Herbal Ezine

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  • Monday, January 21, 2019 6:14 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Greetings of the growing light to you.


    I spent the day with Marie Summerwood (shamanic apprentice number 50) recently.

    We cried. We laughed. We reminisced. We kissed. We told stories. We drank infusion. We ate goat cheese lasagna. We enjoyed chocolates from Krause’s. We sang songs, songs Marie wrote for me, for us all. We looked at photos. (Here are a few.) We talked about the many workshops Marie taught at the Wise Woman Center: on grief, on chanting, on sacred sex. I thanked her for helping me with so many apprentices and cooking with me for so many years and for so many women.


    We always joke that when Marie started her apprenticeship, she was a professional macrobiotic chef. And when she graduated, she was a damn fine cook. I have a macrobiotic background myself, but tend to follow dictums rather than practices (when they don’t agree). The main dictum of macrobiotics – “Eat what is in season where you live” – becomes, in practice, “Eat what is in season in Japan.” Teaching Marie to harvest and eat weeds brought to a whole new consciousness to her macrobiotic cooking.


    Marie, my apprentice, my help mate, my friend of thirty years. I cherish you. Marie gave me books and a tray carved of teak and anything I wanted from her jumble drawer. I gave her a pair of green silk pants, a bottle of rose water, and an embroidered red silk scarf. Marie was diagnosed with stage 4, metatastic breast cancer this past August. Nothing modern medicine has to offer touched her cancer, but the treatments (chemo and radiation) weakened her to the point where she could not stand. She was taken care of with great finesse and grace by loving women of her community. Hospice was too late. Marie left her body before they could come.


    Marie would like you to sing for her. Marie welcomes your loving thoughts. She is smiling. She is smiling at you. She beckons you to the Green Goddess Week, which is dedicated to Marie this year. (And filling up fast.) When Green Goddesses are initiated as Green Witches, they visit Lady Beauty’s Beauty Parlor, a special place Marie created for us to help us connect with the glamour of the Goddess. My life and land are imbued with so much of Marie’s glamour and magic. We wove so many spells here together.


    Be like the bird, who, halting in her flight, on a branch too slight, feels it give way beneath her, and she sings, sings, knowing she has wings, she sings, sings, knowing she has wings.


    In honor of Marie, and in honor of your compassion for her flight, please accept my gift of any one of her magical, powerful CDs with your order of at least $30 from the Wise Woman Bookshop from now until the end of February. Also, for the entire month of February, my special offer, repeated from last year due to popular demand: Buy ten classes for $750, get 13. That’s $225 worth of classes free. Wow.


    Marie’s apprentice year was a solid one for apprentices. Irmela, Caro/Lilith, Regina, and Barbl – all from Germany – were four of the 23 shamanic herbal apprentices who graduated with Marie in 1990. Ann graduated after 13 weeks and returned home to Boulder to spread the word on the Wise Woman Way. She is still doing it, with grace and beauty. I am so proud of her. Thanks for the MAM sweetie. (Mayan Abdominal Massage) I love and appreciate you. Also graduating in 1990 was Jaia, who did the covers for all the Juliette de Bairacli Levy books published by Ash Tree Publishing. Last I heard from her, she was recovering well from a joint replacement. Love you too gypsy woman. Sylett Stickland is another 1990 graduate who went on to teach and do good works. You rock girl. I love you. I haven’t heard from Nikki, or Chris/tina, Maggie or Cindy, Amy or Ellen, Maureen or Chris, but Nora and Annemarie, Gardenia and Kim have been in touch over the years. Smooches to you all.


    Applause for the past apprentices. Hooray for spreading the word on nourishing herbal infusions and healing by nourishing. Write or email or text or send a psychic message and let me know what you are doing now. I want to brag on you!

    Green blessings to all.

  • Monday, January 14, 2019 6:24 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    More Celebrating of 35 Years of Shamanic Herbal Apprentices, contd.

    As for this photo, no, we did not plan to all wear pink pants, it just happened that way and we made it a Kodak moment. The biggest grin in the photo belongs to Marianne from Germany, who, I am sure, continues to light up everything her life.  Emily is next to me, and next to my heart. Then I think that is Blade, who does great magic, but it might be Inana, or even Phillipa, from New Zealand; it’s hard to tell. In green is Bets-sea, the youngest apprentice ever. (She turned 17 while she was here.) Love to you all. On the right is Tanta Rose, a women from Holland who arrived by taxi one day, exclaiming “No need to call. You are a shaman, so you were aware that I was coming.” She fit right in from the first day and made herself indispensable despite her limited English.


    One of the highlights of each apprentice group is the Goddess Pageant, when each apprentice presents her goddess archetype to the group. Their pieces are imaginative, creative, fun, and well costumed, as you can see. The goddess on the right is a glowing Lauren. Sweetie! Next to her is Emily, great herbalist. On the left Julie is hanging out in D’Arcy’s lap. Julie is also a great herbalist, a goat keeper, and a teacher of Wise Woman Ways. I cherish our on-going relationship. Miss you D’Arcy. What’s up with you these days? In the middle, a bejeweled Maura and a resplendent Marcie. My memory seems better at a twenty year distance than at a quarter century distance. Ha!

  • Thursday, January 10, 2019 6:12 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Celebrating 35 Years of Shamanic Herbal Apprentices, contd.

    Mireille from Holland is on the far left in this group of apprentices on a field trip in the upper Catskills. On the far right is Lauren, and next to her is Chava, the author of “What Apprentices Learn.” Her essay captures in just a few words the essence of being a shamanic herbal apprentice. In between Mireille and Chava are Patty, Mary, and Sara. Hmm. There are only two women there, not three. Time for you to help me out apprentices. Are you in this picture? What do you remember of this day? Was it the day you all got piercings and I got in trouble with your moms for letting you do it? Or were we just stopping at Pete’s for ice cream after a long walk in the woods with Penny?


    This was a big year for apprentices. Lots of superior women; 13 graduated shamanic apprentices. Way to go gang. The blue robe was a gift from Edith. Heavy Chinese silk. I demurred. She had five daughters. Surely one of them would like it. “No,” she insisted. They will never use it. Here, many women will wear it and enjoy it.” That blue robe, a little the worse for wear, is still in the costume closet. Perhaps this is a Goddess Pageant, or perhaps we were dressing up as the major arcane of the tarot. Is that tarot author and tarot maven and science fiction writer Rachel in the blue robe? Margaret is clowning on her right. Miss you girl. Heidi, Debbie, and Minaqua are in front with Amelie and Annette. Haven’t heard from any of you in ages. I know you will let me know if I got any names wrong! I do depend on you.


    The man with the beard is Joel, of Joel and Tish, favorite students who came to every class I taught, everywhere, for two years and then asked permission to carry on the teachings. I love you both so much. Sweetheart the goose and I are at the right and Tony is on the left, smiling. She has gone on to great things, both as a person, a mom, an herbalist and a teacher. Good on you Tony! I miss you. Is that McKenzie ? Holly? Carol? How come Kahla is not in this picture? This group of apprentices included an anthropology student doing her field work at Laughing Rock Farm. Her advisor kept calling to caution her not to “go native,” but it didn’t work. After a month of living with wild women, she painted two beautiful murals (still there and still enjoyed) at the apprentice house (The Nettle Patch) and then took off for a Rainbow gathering, never to be seen again.

    ~ Read More Here ~

  • Thursday, January 03, 2019 9:03 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Do You Love Garlic? She Loves You!

    by Susun S. Weed


    Garlic (Allium sativum), also know as the stinking rose, when consumed regularly has amazing health benefits.Garlic will help you improve cardiovascular health, prevent cancer, counter infections including anthrax, and find a safe source of phytoestrogens (great for menopausal women).

    Garlic is a great friend to old hearts. Several cloves a day of fresh, raw garlic can lower blood pressure, reduce phospholipids and cholesterol, strengthen heart action, increase immune response, reduce platelet clumping and clotting (thus reducing strokes), and stabelize blood sugar levels.

    If you don't like raw garlic, then use powdered. A four-year study found women who ingested 900 mg (1/4 teaspoonful) of garlic powder daily had 18 percent less arterial plaque than those taking a placebo.

    Garlic and its smelly relatives (onions, chives, and leeks) are hormone-rich plants that most women crave. Garlic is an excellent source of phytoestrogens; these hormone-like substances not only reduce cancer incidence, they help ease the menopausal passage.

    An easy garlic tonic is made this way: Fill a glass jar with fresh garlic cloves, no need to peel them. Pour honey over all, until the jar is nearly full. Place on a plate and let sit for at least 24 hours before using. A spoonful is a dose. This tonic will keep at room temperature for a year.

    Eat 1/2 clove of garlic a day and watch your blood pressure drop!

    You can get the benefits of garlic by eating it in any food, fresh or powdered. Try this simple recipe for instant garlic bread : Mince garlic and spread on hot buttered toast.

    Here are some more of Susun Weed's favorite raw garlic dishes:

    Scrambled eggs topped with minced raw garlic
    Tomato sauce with chopped raw garlic added jsut before eating
    Yogurt cheese with minced raw garlic on whole wheat crackers
    Minced raw garlic on a baked potato
    Herb vinegar and minced raw garlic on cooked greens like dandelion, spinach, kale, collards, mustard, amaranth, or lamb's quarters.

  • Thursday, January 03, 2019 8:18 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Celebrating 35 Years of Shamanic Herbal Apprentices, contd.

    1987: That is Robin Rose Bennett, apprentice number seven, holding up her hand. She is the author of two books, she teaches herbal medicine and sometimes accepts apprentices, and she does stunning work in community gardens. We are bound by our love for each other and by our mutual love for our Canadian friends Daphne and Keyawis, bringer of peace. Hugs and kisses to you.          

    White Feather is on the other side of me, wearing a black head scarf. She has taught at the Wise Woman Center every year of its existence and has interacted with the majority of the apprentices. She is my Wolf Clan sister; we share adoption by Grandmother Twylah Nitsch, of the Seneca Nation. With grandmother’s blessing, White Feather has put out a book and video on the Seven Directions Movement Meditation. Two over from White Feather is Savatri. In front of her, with her knee up, is Jane La Force.

    Jane la Force was notable for bringing her own goats’ milk with her whenever she would return for a visit. (And it has been too long since the last visit.) She says my goats don’t eat as much poison ivy as her goats so her goats’ milk offers her more protection against the rash. Jane taught herbal medicine and kept a big homestead for many years, but I don’t know what she is up to these days.
  • Thursday, January 03, 2019 8:06 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Celebrating 35 Years of Shamanic Herbal Apprentices, contd.

    ·        1984: Susun in her chakra shirt. Too bad the photo is black and white. Clove Tsindle, apprentice number zero, has finished her three year cohabitation and is keeping goats nearby. She still works with herbs professionally. I am either talking with her or with Daphne Ross, apprentice number one, who is opening my heart to women’s need for ritual space.


    ·         1985: Daphne and Susun. Daphne begins a long and productive line of apprentices who use the wild, rocky land here at the Wise Woman Center as a canvas to express their desires, their longings, their wishes. The oak tree where Daphne made magic is 35 years older and larger. The ties of red cloth she fastened to the branches are long since gone. The little pond at its feet is sometimes dry. And the child Daphne called forth shares her life in magical ways. I am so honored that our connection has endured for 35 years.


    ·         1986: Pam Montgomery and Susun hamming it up at a Green Witch Initiation. Pam does it all: She runs a teaching center, she writes books about plant spirits and herbal medicine, she organizes Green Nations Gatherings, and so much more. Our year together came at a time of enormous change for both of us and the bond we formed is deep and enduring. Love you Pam.

    ~ Read More ~

  • Thursday, January 03, 2019 8:01 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Celebrating 35 Years of Training Shamanic
    Herbal Apprentices

    by Susun S. Weed


    Green blessings of the evergreen season.


    I am back from my trip to Paris with my daughter Justine and my granddaughter Monica Jean. We saw lots of plants that we knew, our friends the weeds, and visited botanical gardens to meet plants new to us, including acanthus, which I knew only from carvings. I will share more of our Paris plant times with you in future ezines.


    As the year closes and darkness draws us closer to the fire, I think ahead to the coming year. What will 2019 hold?  I create my new schedule. I write a letter to all my correspondence students. And I set my topics for my HealthyLife.net radio show and my Enchanted Forrest chat group. No doubt, there will be additions and adjustments to be made as life unfolds, but, for now, I commit to being at these places on these days and talking about the set topics. Join me.


    And join me in celebrating 35 years of training shamanic herbal apprenticeships.


    It was 1983, and I was teaching at Omega Institute (where I will be again in 2019) when a young woman sat next to me and declared her intention to live with me. She was attending a college that required her to live and study hands-on with a practicing herbalist. Even though such a thing had never occurred to me, I agreed, and in 1984, Daphne Ross graduated as apprentice number one.


    From then until now, 35 years, roughly 526 women have committed to a live-in shamanic herbal apprenticeship. (I am not including live-out apprentices, nor the apprentices I trained in Germany and Florida.)

    Those 526 women paid a sizable application fee, spent half an hour or more on the phone with me while I tried to talk them out of living with me as an apprentice, and then were asked to reaffirm their commitment to stay in the program, no matter what. About 490 of them actually showed up and stayed for more than a day. And 316 (sixty percent) stayed for the amount of time they committed to (from 2 weeks to 6 months), graduated, and were initiated as green witches.


    I am so proud of them. They are an amazing group of women who are helping me spread my idea: Herbal medicine as people’s medicine. The medicine that grows right outside your back door. They are the vanguard of a new/old way of taking care of ourselves. They are the mycelium that is taking off from my spores and spreading. Whether they are organizing women’s herbal conferences or taking care of those they love, writing books or cutting CDs, tending gardens or making art, they take joy in the green blessings around them and share them freely with others. They are my lineage, my daughters and granddaughters, my sisters, my beloveds. They have passed through a daunting and dangerous portal that I humbly hold. They carry a bit of my energy with them now. We share wisdom.


    Help me celebrate shaman herbal apprentices in 2019.


    All graduated apprentices.  Come back to the Wise Woman Center in 2019. Come for a moonlodge, come for a work weekend, come for a class weekend, come when you can, come alone or with your family, come as it is best for you. (I believe Lisa and Astrid are cooking something up about an apprentice gathering. That would be fun.) Let us celebrate you and your life.


    Someone, preferably a past apprentice. Please create a virtual place where past apprentices can connect with each other. I want a place where apprentices can “brag” to each other about their successes, large and small, a safe place where to share joy without fear of jealousy. I trust that it will manifest in 2019. In celebration.


    Everyone.  Celebrate with us. Make this the year you come to moonlodge, help out on a work weekend, or get your hands dirty at a workshop. Who knows what fascinating apprentice you will be rubbing shoulders with when you do. Some past apprentices have written books. They all have fascinating stories to tell.


    Apprentices of the future: I have recently completely revised the information about shamanic herbal apprenticeship. Please refresh your webpage and read the new and longer letter.


    Whether you are interested in apprenticing or not, if you plan to come to the Wise Woman Center in the future, you may find what I have to say about apprenticeship worth your while to read. It throws a light on the rigors of my apprenticeship program and the seriousness with which I go about this sacred work. It may even make you laugh.


    Apprentices past, present, and future, and anyone who enjoys sentimental journeys. Meet me here every other week to look back at three and a half decades of training shamanic apprentices. Photos. Stories. Memories. Plants. Goats. Goddesses. Green witches. Joy.


    My next book: Abundantly Well, the Complementary Integrated Medical Revolution is slated for publication October 2019. I am applying myself diligently to the final work on it. I know you will be pleased with it. I am. It is another book you’ll cherish, filled with information you can trust. A synthesis of fifty years of studying health and wholeness.


    Green blessings



  • Tuesday, November 27, 2018 7:35 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Elder Remedies
    by Susun Weed

    Dried Elder Berry Tincture
    Fill any size jar no more than half full of dried elder berries. Fill jar to the top with 100 proof vodka. Cap, label, wait for six weeks, and use.

    Dried Elder Berry Infusion

    Put 1-2 ounces of dried berries in a quart jar and fill to the top with boiling water. Steep overnight. Drink it, a half cup at a time, or turn it into a decoction.

    Dried Elder Berry Decoction
    Pour a quart of infusion, berries and all, into a saucepan and gently simmer until the liquid is reduced by one-half or more. In other words, you want to wind up with 1-2 cups of decoction. The decoction may be taken by the teaspoonful. It keeps best if refrigerated. Or make a syrup with your decoction.

    Dried Elder Berry Syrup
    When you have reduced it as much as you wish, add sweetener. A classic syrup contains as much sweetener as herbal liquid. So you could add a cup of honey or maple syrup or white sugar to one cup of elder berry decoction. Syrups need to be refrigerated.

    Dried Elder Berry Glycerite
    Buy glycerin at the drugstore or health food store. Dilute it by at least half with sterile water. Dilutions as low as one part glycerin to four parts water will work. Fill a jar no more than half full of dried elder berries. Fill the jar to the top with the diluted glycerin. The resulting glycerite is ready to use, by the dropperful, in 6 weeks.

  • Monday, November 26, 2018 7:12 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    The Healing Medicine of Trees - Elder
    by Susun Weed

    ELDER is the last letter of the ogam alphabet (Ruis). It rarely attains tree status where it grows in North America, but it has taken me by surprise several times in Europe by the height to which it can grow (up to ten meters) and the tough bark it is capable of making.

    Around the world, elder is viewed as a tree that is so sacred and awesome that it is to be feared. In the British Isles, anyone who cut down an elder tree, it was believed, would suffer at the hands of the woman who lives in the elder. She is known by many names, including Elda Mohr, Hylde Moer, Frau Ellhorn, and Frau Holle. And she is found in many stories from many lands.

    She is a guardian of children and is willing to help anyone who asks her nicely. But she takes revenge if she is not honored or respected.

    One year, when I had a job taking juvenile delinquents on weed walks, I took the girls to an elder bush and had them sit under it while I told them a story about Elda Mohr. The counselor told me that many of them went back, over and over again, to sit with the Elda and talk to her. They found a refuge in her branches and ease in her leaves. Yes, elder is indeed the guardian of all children.

    Remedies made from elder flowers and elder berries (Sambucus nigra) are favorites for easing children’s fevers, colds, and flus. Elder flowers may be dried to make a tea, or tinctured fresh to bring down high fevers rapidly. Five to ten drop doses may be repeated every thirty minutes or as needed. Elder berries may be tinctured from fresh or dried berries, or turned into tasty syrups, jams, and jellies. Science confirms their flu-fighting abilities. Elder berries soothe sore throats, quell coughs, relieve asthma, ease bronchitis, and clear chest congestion. Fermented elder berries make a semi-permanent hair dye for those who prefer a their locks dark in color.

    Fresh elder flowers may be fermented into champagne.  One book refers to this brew as “Liquid Light.” It relies on the natural yeast present on the flowers, which must be picked on a bright sunny day. Elder berry wine is justifiably famous; the color and taste are unlike anything I have ever drunk.

    Ruis means “red in the face,” which some authors connect with shame and embarrassment, while others believe it refers to anger. I don’t agree with either of those views. I think it reminds us that elder is used to treat those who have red faces; in fact, I suspect it may be effective against the skin disease rosacea, which reddens the face and causes outbreaks of pustules.

    The “pimples” on the bark are the “signature” to use it against pimples. Elder leaves are steeped into a tea that is used as a wash to clear the complexion of redness and outbreaks.

    Elder leaf poultices are also used to ease sprains, bruises, and headaches. Fresh leaves are the best; I admit to never using elder this way as there as so many common poultice plants and elder, at least where I live, is rather uncommon – certainly not as near at hand as plantain or burdock leaf! An ointment of the bark is used to help heal ulcers, burns and abrasions.

    Elder trees are said to be the home of fairies. If you sleep under an elder at the full moon, you may see the fairies. If the full moon is near the summer solstice, the fairies may invite you home to play with them. An elder wand is the best one to use if you must exorcise something or someone. An elder wand wards off evil so well, the drivers of the hearses used to carry whips fashioned of elder wood.

    Elder is hollow, so it has been used to make functional pipes for transferring liquids as well as musical pipes for transferring emotions. An elder stake is said to outlast iron when put into the ground. Elder grows easily in the temperate regions; it likes cold winters. Plant one and you will enjoy her fragrant flowers, delicious berries, stately grace, and – who knows – you may even become a friend of the fairies.

  • Monday, October 22, 2018 8:55 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    The Healing Medicine Of Trees - Birch
    by Susun Weed

    Trees are some of the most fascinating of all plants and of all herbal medicines. The lore surrounding any one type of tree – even some individual trees – is vast.

    Consider doing a brief meditation with each tree, breathing with it, listening to it, and being open to the messages that it has to share with us. Every breath is a give away dance of joy.

    BIRCH is the tree of beginnings. Birch (Beth) begins the ogam alphabet. Birch was the first tree to take hold in Europe as the glaciers retreated after the last ice age. Birch is one of the first trees to grow in disturbed soils. A birch tree in your dream is a strong indication that you are beginning a new aspect of your life, and that new spiritual understandings await you.

    Birch is Betula to the botanist. In Sanskrit, it is burgha, meaning “that which is good to write upon.” The use of birch bark as a material to write upon is thought to predate paper, and even to be the model for papermaking. Magic spells are often written on a piece of birch bark.

    Birch is the “way shower.”  Birch is safety and warmth in the cold. Birch is the sky ladder of the Siberian shaman. Birch is the cradle for the newborn. Birch twigs are used to whip the skin in Scandinavian saunas; a kind of rebirth. Birch twigs are used to light the sacred fires in Wales. Birch torches were used to “purify” the land, to expel “evil spirits” and maleficent fairies, and to “beat the boundaries” at winter solstice throughout old Europe.

    Birch bark will burn whether wet or dry. This knowledge has saved my life at least once in high mountains when hypothermia threatened. Birch bark is antiseptic. Because it is pliable when fresh, it may be fashioned into containers which preserve food. Strangely enough, a simple birch bark cup can be use over an open fire to boil water without bursting into flames.

    There are many Native American stories in which birch saves the. The European fairy tale we know as Cinderella is based on an older Russian story in which a woman becomes a birch tree in order to take care of her orphaned daughter. (Some versions say it was a beech tree. Walt But the original tale centered on the caring love of the birch. Disney left out the tree, alas.)
    Notice that the wood of birch rots away quickly while the bark remains intact, often in one piece, for many years. Birch bark canoes are justly famous.

    Birch leaves – collected in the spring only – can be used to make a tea which eases sore throats, bleeding gums, sores in the mouth, constipation, gout, rheumatism, kidney stones, and bladder problems. The tea has a slightly sedative effect and eases sore muscles, too.

    Older birch leaves can be added to a hot bath or made into a strong brew and poured into the tub to heal moist, oozing skin conditions.

    Recent studies have found an anticancer compound in birch sap: betulinic acid. Older herbals contain recipes for birch beer made by fermenting the sap; and for birch vinegar, also made by fermentation. I have never tapped a birch tree as they don’t heal easily and can bleed to death. The sweet birch that I use to demonstrate on in the spring often drips sap for several days after I break a small limb.

    Sweet birch is my favorite of the birches. It smells of wintergreen and is used commercially to produce essential oil of wintergreen. A hot water infusion of the twigs gathered before they leaf out is all I use as a household cleanser. A handful of twigs in a quart jar may be rebrewed up to thirty times before they need to be replaced. This cleanser is safe for children to drink, but effectively loosens and removes grease and grime.

    Birch wood is primarily used as a veneer. It is light in weight and light in color. It is favored in the manufacture of electric guitars.

    Who can fail to be moved by the mystery of a white-barked birch shining under the light of the full moon on a snowy winter night?

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