Wise Woman Herbal Ezine

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  • Tuesday, October 01, 2013 11:59 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Green greetings to you all.

    I have so much to share, I don’t know where to start. At the beginning? In the middle? Or from the present perspective.

    The last time I wrote to you, I was setting off for Malibu to be part of Goddess Spirit Rising, the First International Goddess Conference. My mind and memory are filled with a kaleidoscope of images and sensations: Lydia Rule’s goddess banners snapping in the wind and hanging from the walls to transform our meeting places, healing rituals from the four corners of the world, the most amazing altars and priestesses, Grandmother Z (Budapest) doing tarot readings, an emotional, exquisite Crone’s Crowning Ritual led by Ruth Barrett, embracing and catching up with old friends not seen for ages – Vicki Noble, Max Daschu, Joan Marler, and Adriennne Tully, to mention a few – Anique Radiant Heart’s bigger-than-life voice raised in hymns to the Goddess, Hecate’s Wheel spinning their musical magic, brightly-colored nylon spinners spinning in the constant breeze, walking up and up and down and down, the stairs, the hills, the stairs, the hills, and so much joy, so much love, so much Goddess energy!! I will be there next year (or in 2015 if it becomes a biannual event). Hope you can be too.

    Getting home was complicated by the early departure of my connecting flight, leaving me stranded in Detroit. I befriended a young mom and her 5 year-old daughter on the shuttle to the hotel (where they were stashing those of us left behind) and so had an enjoyable dinner and a magical morning. The little girl was reluctant to let me go after our dinner together, so I promised I would see her in the morning. (I knew we were taking the shuttle back to the airport together.) Imagine my delight when I opened my hotel room door in the morning to go to breakfast to find her standing there!! No, she did not know which room was mine.

    We ate another meal together and shuttled to the airport, where there was distress about our separation. I promised that we would meet, in a while, in the airport, though we were taking flights to different places. And so we did. Of course, ultimately, we did have to say: “Goodbye.” When we did, I promised her that I would always be her fairy goddess-mother and she had only to call on me in her mind to feel my blessing. She smiled.

    Home to a pile of correspondence, new mentorship students, lots of apprentice inquiries, and all the busy work that wells up as the days shorten, as well as my own ongoing reconnection with friends I had lost touch with over the years. Life is bringing me around the spiral again, showing me the view from a different perspective.

    Well, I told you I had a lot on my mind. As for plants, I think you will find these shots of interesting plants in the tomato family worth a glance. And please enjoy the recipe, which I adapted from Nourishing Traditions Cookbook, by Sally Fallon, who I will be seeing soon at the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference.

    There are only two more workshops at the Wise Woman Center this year, (Winter Readiness and Hands-On Herbal Medicine/Digging Roots) but lots of work exchange weekends coming up. The Catskills are beautiful in the fall. Do come and play with us.

    And enjoy green blessings.

    p.s. And to my mentorship students, lots of new articles – on turkey tail mushrooms, the benefits of butter, and the amazing abilities of pumpkin.


    Part Two 

  • Friday, September 13, 2013 8:45 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Wild Foods as Medicine

    Many women, deficient in minerals, don’t have the vitality, strength and energy to engage in the many projects they are called to.  A key in re-building our inner vigor is to lay a foundation of health through nourishing foods, including mineral-rich wild foods.
    For our bodies to function optimally – including the nervous, immune, and hormonal systems - women must ingest a broad spectrum of minerals. In our Western culture, many of our diets are mineral deficient.  Partially due to food choices, another factor is the condition of our soils.  The needed mineral content is simple not available after decades of large-scale, industrial farming, which has stripped the soils and washed the minerals out to sea.  Even our organic foods has less mineral content then when it was ingested by our ancestors.
    To get needed minerals, a common practice is to take supplements.  However, supplements come with at least several major obstacle, one of which is that they are not readily digested or absorbed.  Many are synthesized or mined, which makes them not only hard to assimilate in our bodies, but in our economies and regenerative cultures as well.
    Instead, Wise Women turn to the ways of our foremothers.  We build strong bones and greater vitality through nourishing foods and wild plants with which our bodies evolved - nettles, chickweed, dandelion, violet, yellow dock, whole yogurt and bone broths.
    Wild plants grow on the edges, often in soils that have not been denuded of mineral content.  As a result they provide an abundance of minerals and other nutrients.  A  recent New York Times article marvelled that dandelion greens having at least seven times the phytonutrients of spinach. Wild plants provide not only macro elements - calcium, phosphate, potassium, magnesium and others - but also micro elements known as trace minerals - iron, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, iodine and others. When we eat wild plants we receive optimal nourishment in a form that our bodies can readily utilize.
    Wild plants are easiest as infusions and soups.
    Infusions are an excellent source of minerals because of the long brewing time and large quantity of plant material used. A regular cup of tea brewed ten minutes with a teabag will have nowhere near the mineral impact of an infusion.
    The long cooking times for soups helps break down the plant's tough cell walls, which makes the minerals more available to our bodies (See Nettle Soup Recipe below). When cooking greens, allow them to stew for 20-30 minutes or more. Since women may be concerned about the vitamins content being destroyed by heat, it is encouraged to snack on fresh wild greens in addition to cooking them!
    Another key to minerals is the stage of a woman’s life.  Minerals are often lost through pregnancy, menopause and menstruation. While it is easiest to build bone mass in our 30's, we can do it anytime, even during or after menopause. Common methods of hormone replacement therapy and calcium supplements are generally not successful in building bone mass after menopause, yet, eating mineral rich wild plants and other nourishing foods, along with adding weight bearing exercise into our daily lives, can support us in our efforts to remain vital and healthy long into our elder years.
    Nourishing foods, and finding ways to easily incorporate them in daily life, are essential for women today.  For those who want a deeper experience, consider joining Corinna Wood, Susun Weed and Sally Fallon Morrel at the 9th annual Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference, October 11-13 near Asheville, NC.  Corinna will be teaching a class on “Weeds, the Wise Woman Way”; Susun will be, among other things,  teaching on the “Magic of Mints”, and Sally Fallon Morrel will be focusing on traditional nourishing foods.

    Mineral-Rich Foods: a few examples include yogurt, seaweed, and bone broth
    Mineral-Rich Wild Plants: a few examples include nettles, dandelion greens and yellow-dock leaves.
    Nettle Soup Recipe: Nettle soup is considered a macrobiotic delicacy, and nettle’s bonanza of nutrients stays with you long after the plates are cleared. Serve it up with some brown rice or bread and butter, and it will provide plenty of energy for an afternoon among the herbs, or an evening of great conversation with friends.

    Soup recipe:
    ½ medium onion
    2 cloves garlic
    olive oil
    1 cup diced carrots
    1 cup diced potatoes
    6 cups water or broth
    3 cups nettles tops
    sweet white miso, to taste
    Sautee the onions and garlic in a little olive oil. Stir in your carrots and potatoes. After a few minutes, cover them with the water or broth (vegetable or chicken broth work beautifully).
    If your nettle tops are small, you can put them in whole. If they’re larger than you would want to have on your spoon, put your gloves back on and chop them coarsely before adding to the soup. Bring to a boil and let it all simmer for 35 to 45 minutes.
    Dilute several spoonfuls of sweet white miso in some of the broth, and then add it to the soup bowls at the table so the beneficial microorganisms don’t get cooked by the boiling temperatures.
    Wise woman, herbalist, visionary and mother, Corinna Wood is the founder and director of Southeast Wise Women, and also the founder of Red Moon Herbs. She has opened the hearts of thousands of women to trusting the wisdom of the plants, the earth, and their own bodies.  www.SEWiseWomen.com

    Jackie Dobrinska joined the staff of Southeast Wise Women after attending the Wise Woman Immersion several years ago.  Today, in addition to running logistics at the Immersion, she provided photography and content for the web, newsletters, and social media, connecting an expanded web of wise women.
  • Wednesday, September 11, 2013 10:10 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Here are some photos of some amazing mushrooms that I found this week in the forest.

    Cauliflower Mushroom (Sparassis radicata)
    I could hardly believe my eyes when I came upon this lovely mushroom. I have never before seen it in the flesh, only in photos. Despite my warning about photos being an unreliable way to identify plants and mushrooms, there is no way to mistake the cauliflower mushroom for anything else. Nonetheless, I checked in three books before cooking it slowly (for about two hours at low heat) in butter and eating it. The texture stayed crunchy, but the taste was quite nice. It was not, as one book claimed “one of the best of the edible species,” I vastly prefer the complex taste of black chanterelles.

    Black Chanterelle
    (Cantharellus cornucopioides)
    These mushrooms are small, but like wild strawberries, their taste is huge. All chanterelles are funnel shaped and all of them are edible and tasty, no matter what color they are: white, orange, yellow, tan, or black. Chanterelles are distinguished by their lack of gills and their lack of pores. Instead they have wrinkle-like folds. I gently pulled one from the moss and turned up so you could get a good look at those folds. Again, there is no look-alike spoiler to confuse us. If it looks like a black chanterelle, it is a black chanterelle. I cook them briefly on a low heat in butter, then spread them on toast. The taste is deep and dark and rich with nuance.

    Spreading Hedgehog (Hydnum repandum)
    Coral Hedgehog (Hericium coralloides)

    I have only seen hedgehog mushrooms twice in the half century I have been foraging, not counting the three I saw this week! That more than doubles my lifetime count. The spreading hedgehog provides a handy resting spot for this red eft. The coral hedgehog reminds me that icicles will be decorating my eaves in a few months. One of my guidebooks says: “Hedgehog mushroom are one of the most beautiful sights in the woodland. They are edible, if that is your consideration.” I agree. I have never eaten a hedgehog mushroom. Perhaps the next time I find one . . .

    Spreading Hedgehog                                         Coral Hedgehog

    Wild Foods as Medicine

  • Wednesday, September 11, 2013 9:58 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Green Blessings of the Thunderstorm Season

    One of the great delights of autumn in the Catskills is the emergence of mushrooms.

    All colors, all forms, all shapes, in profusion or singly, on the ground and on the trees. Mushrooms are springing up everywhere.

    Mushrooms are magical. No wonder they feature in so many fairy tale illustrations. Like the tiny mushroom here, they have an ethereal quality that sends our imaginations journeying. . . just by looking at them.

    Let me repeat the warning that plants, and mushrooms especially, are not reliably identified by photos. The smell and the texture and the environment are all important in identification. Please don’t eat any mushroom without checking at least three sources. I have been finding and preparing wild mushrooms for over forty years and I still follow that rule when I am contemplating eating a new find. Unlike plants, mushrooms that smell and look lovely can be deadly. After all, dealing with death is the work of the mushrooms.

    All mushrooms help prevent cancer. Some actively counter it. Check out the photo gallery for some of the most interesting specimens of this week. (Mentor students, look for your upcoming tutorial on the latest, greatest anti-cancer mushroom: turkey tails.)

    Take the time this week to go for a walk in the forest and see what mushrooms have paid a visit to your neck of the woods. No need to identify them or eat them or do anything at all except sit and enjoy them.

    Next week I will report on my trip to the First International Goddess Fest in Malibu. Mushrooms? Flowers? Beautiful goddesses and incredible rituals? I am sure I will find all these and more. And coming up really soon is the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference. Come if you can; it is an experience you will never forget.

    And don’t forget to join me every Tuesday evening at my new blogtalk show. Call or email questions and I will answer them.

    Green blessings are everywhere.



    Weed Walk

  • Tuesday, August 27, 2013 12:49 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Lacto-fermented Cucumbers

    I can deal with lots of zucchini, but the recent flood of cucumbers left me grasping for creative ways to use the darn things. I even resorted to serve them as a cooked vegetable. (Not bad.) Then I checked out what Sally Fallon has to say about cucumbers, and lickety-split, I had them all taken care of. If you are awash in cucumbers, try this.

    • Wash cucumbers. Cut into your favorite pieces. I prefer spears. Some like slices.
    • Pack pieces tightly into a wide-mouthed canning jar.
    • If desired, add cloves of peeled raw garlic here and there in the jar.
    • If desired, add fresh dill or mustard seed.
    • Pour one tablespoonful of sea salt on top of the cucumbers in the jar.
    • Add four tablespoonfuls of whey to the jar. (Let some plain yogurt sit in your refrigerator for a while and a clear liquid – whey – will form on the top.) (Sally says do not use powdered whey.)
    • Fill the jar to within an inch of the top with non-chlorinated water.
    • Lid tightly. Very tightly.
    • Let sit in a shady place at room temperature for 48-50 hours, then refrigerate.
    • Your lacto-fermented cucumbers are ready to eat in six weeks but grow better with age.

    Thank you Sally Fallon

    Interested in becoming a mentor student? Learn more here.

  • Tuesday, August 27, 2013 12:45 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Photo Gallery
    Harvest time! Here are some seeds and fruits to harvest now!

    Burdock seed (Arctium lappa)
    Those stick-in-your-hair-and-on-your-dog-and-on-your-sweater-too burdock burrs hold a wealth of seeds revered for their medicinal powers. Many plants have seeds that are easier to harvest than their roots, but burdock is not one of them. Digging first year roots (not yet) is hard work, but getting at the seeds is stickery prickery work. For details on exactly how to handle the seed heads and how to make Burdock Seed Scalp Tonic, please check out the burdock section in Healing Wise.

    Sumac berries (Rhus typhina)
    Reach up for the fruit with the highest vitamin C content: the fuzzy red berries of the sumac tree. Not the smooth red sumac berries (Rhus glabra); they taste bitter. And not the white sumac berries (Rhus vernix); those are poisonous. The fuzzy, velvety, ones. The best ones are dark red and leave a lemony taste on your fingers after you handle them. I put four big heads in a half-gallon jar, fill it to the top with cold water, wait 4-6 hours and enjoy sumac-ade. I keep adding water to the jar of berries until there is no more taste; then I start over with fresh berries. Enjoy!

    Grapes (Vitis aestivalis)
    Wild grapes sting my lips!! Still, I can’t resist them. One of my first teachers was convinced that any problem could be cured with grapes and I, no doubt, internalized her attitude. The “Grape Cure” for cancer was one of the first alternative remedies I found that seemed to work with the body, rather than castigating it. Still very heroic in its though process, nonetheless, I credit grapes with helping to set me on the path of healing by nourishing. If you can’t find wild grapes to eat, do enjoy the cultivated ones showing up now at all the farm stands. (There’s lots more information on grapes for the mentored students. Click here.)


  • Tuesday, August 27, 2013 12:20 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Harvest abundance to you all and green greetings

    My shelves are glowing and groaning with the weight of all the new preparations – vinegars, tinctures, honeys, and oils. (The pestos are in the fridge and the wines are in the cellar.)

    I trust you are adding to your stores as well, remedies both old and new. Experiment!

    Make something you’ve never tried before. Some of the new remedies we made this year include: Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris) vinegar, which turned an amazing rosy red and is surprisingly flavorful. Tulsi (sacred basil) honey, ready to use as an instant tea to ward off colds this winter. Creeping Jenny (Glechoma hederacea) wine, which smelled so good when we were bottling it that I can hardly wait until winter solstice to open the first bottle.

    I will be traveling in the coming months to California, North Carolina, Toronto, Costa Rica, and Florida. Join me if you can. If you can’t, join me on the radio. Many years ago my mentor Jean Houston advised me to host my own radio show. Following her advice, I now host five radio shows (and a chat). Listen in at these sites:

    • Pat Lynch’s Womens Radio – weekly half-hour interview show – Women Making Change (These show are archived at Wise Woman Radio)

    HealthyLife.net – monthly one-hour show on herbs and health – Green Blessings (first Monday)

    BlogTalkRadio – weekly two hour show – question and answer on herbs and health (Tuesday eve)

    MainStreet blogtalk – weekly half-hour show on magical plants – Green Magic, Green Medicine

    TimeMonkRadio – weekly half-hour show on herbal and health topics -- The Susun Weed Show

    Enchanted Forrest – third Monday of the month, open chat focused on one herb.

    All the photos in our gallery this week were taken by my daughter Justine, who has a very fine eye for the detail and design of the plants. Enjoy!

    Green blessings.

    Weed Walk

  • Saturday, August 17, 2013 10:28 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Lobelia in the Raw

    Lobelia inflate is my favorite plant for opening the gateway to the fairy realms.
    Eating a single flower, if done in the right frame of mind, can enable you to hear the songs of the green nations. This recipe only works with fresh, raw
    Lobelia inflata, not dried, not other species.
    Pick only one flower, per plant, no more!

    Eating Lobelia is a sacrament to me. The tiny blossom with the enormous taste sits on my tongue and opens my ears to the language of the plants.

    * Find a plant of Lobelia inflata in flower. Sit with it for a while. Breathe.
    * Ask permission to pick a single flower. If there are no flowers left, only inflated seed pods and green leaves, ask permission to pick half of a lower leaf.
    * Place the flower on your tongue. Close your eyes. Breathe.
    * You will feel a slow fire burning its way up into your head. Open your crown chakra so you don’t get a headache.
    * You will feel a queasiness in your throat or your stomach. It is not for nothing this plant is called “puke weed.” But it is unlikely in the extreme that you will actually throw up, don’t worry.
    * I think the ideal thing to do next is to take off your shoes (and your clothes) and go for a walk in the deep dark woods. But sitting in your garden or the park, fully clothed (but barefoot please), works too. The effect is not so strong that you could not drive if you wanted to, or even “operate heavy machinery.”

    If you cannot find a Lobelia inflata plant, you may do this with another shamanic plant of your choice.

    Interested in becoming a mentor student? Learn more here.

  • Saturday, August 17, 2013 10:24 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Here are some of the autumn beauties delighting us these days. Enjoy! (Try using this week’s recipe first and then going on a walk to appreciate the plants.)

    Tiger Lily (Lilium tigrum)
    While it is safe to eat daylilies, or any lily the opens up when it blooms, it is not safe to eat lilies that bloom to the side or down, like this bold tiger lily in my monarda garden.

    No names. Just some lovely forms found in the forest.

    Lobelia in the Raw Recipe - Click Here

  • Saturday, August 17, 2013 10:06 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Shamanic plants
    Here are a few of the many plants used worldwide by shamans to walk between the worlds. Being able to use psychoactive plants is, in fact, a prerequisite in many cultures to being trained as an herbalist or a shaman.

    Fly agaric, the witches’ mushroom (Amanita muscaria) [photo sent to us by Rose Weissman]
    It’s she a beauty?! This is a classic example of the fly agaric mushroom just emerging from its egg. This is the yellow form, the one common here on the east coast. If you live on the west coast, or in Europe, your Amanita muscaria mushrooms will have a red cap. A red cap with white dots, like those you see illustrating fairy stories, especially those featuring witches. (Chuckle.) And like those plaster or plastic ones who hang with plaster or plastic gnomes.

    All Amanita mushrooms emerge from an egg-like sac of white material that clings in dots and dabs to the cap and remains around the base of the flaring stalk. As the cap matures and opens, the veil covering the under surface loosens and falls down around the stalk. (Mentored students, your core material this week includes photos of other Amanitas.)

    Humans have been allied with fly agaric for thousands of years. Some sources claim it is the most ancient of all shamanic plants used by humans; others believe Brugmansia holds that honor. Siberian shaman consume fly agaric mushrooms (and lots of water, presumably). Those of the community who also wish to commune with the spirits don’t eat the mushrooms directly, instead, they drink the shaman’s urine, believing that the mushroom poison has now been rendered safe for those less powerful.

    Modern shamans usually dry fly agaric and smoke it, though it is also taken as a tea, brewed in hot milk or hot water.

    Black Nightshade
    (Solanum nigrum)
    Note the dark purple, almost black, and nearly round, berries of this common weedy nightshade. The small white flowers with yellow beaks and recurved petals occur in clusters of three, but the berries are usually in pairs. The ripe berries are safe to eat; they are often called “garden huckleberry.” The green berries are the psychoactive part. The usual dose is 2-4 berries eaten fresh. Like other nightshades, the effect is similar to flying.

    Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata)
    This little plant is found at the edges of the forest or growing wild in the garden. It needs a fair amount of sun, which is quite obvious when you find it has a peppery taste for all its blue flower coolness. Vinegar preparations of the ripe seed pods were a big favorite with the heroic herbalists of the past. Lobelia is considered an adjuvant. That is, it makes any herbal formula it is in more effective. Check out this week’s recipe for my suggested way to use Lobelia to open your ears and eyes to the fairy realm.

    More Weed Walk - Click Here

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