Wise Woman Herbal Ezine

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  • Thursday, April 20, 2017 7:03 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Flower Parade

    Here are the flowers that were blooming Easter morning at Laughing Rock Farm.

    Wild Tulips
    Unlike the big Holland tulips, these little wild ladies are true perennials. This patch is 25 years old.  In fact, they will even expand their territory if they are happy. I adore that red stripe on the back of the sepal. When the bud is closed they look like they will be red tulips. Then they open, and surprise! Tulip petals of all sorts are yummy in salads.

    Narcissus are the perfect spring flower in areas overrun with deer. They are poisonous to deer (and humans), and they are long-lived perennials which naturalize and spread easily. The plain yellow ones are the most likely to survive, I find, though the all whites have done well for me, too. Do not eat any part of any daffodil.

    Star of Holland
    This little bulb outdoes herself every spring, expanding and multiplying with abandon, and always eliciting a gasp of pleasure the day her flowers flash open and carpet the ground with lapis blue. Although I suspect her flowers could be eaten in moderation, I have never tried it. Some members of the Liliaceae are edible – like ramps – and some are poisonous – like daffodils – so caution is recommended.

    Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
    Not to be outdone is the wild bloodroot which has spread for one plant in one place to fifty plants in about ten patches. The white flowers glow as though lit from within, then drop their petals and unfurl one of nature’s most unusual leaves. I dig one or two rhizomes every spring to tincture and use sparingly as part of my oral health program.

  • Thursday, April 20, 2017 5:42 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Green greetings!

    Whoosh! A flood of sunlight has unfolded all the sleeping bulbs and buds. Flowers below, flowers above. It’s a Flower Parade. Tulips, daffodils, drifts of Delft blue, maples, pines, birch, wafts of yellow pollen. Now is the time to celebrate re-birth. I wish you a very merry re-birthday.

    Here are a few beauties from my Easter garden. Re-birth from underground.

    And a few other plants that caught my eye as I was out with the goats. Re-birth in abundance.

    Summer is nearly upon us; breathing down our necks, in fact. Summer begins on May Day, the first of May, the day the fey return. The fairies go underground, into their hills, for the winter every year on November 1, the Day of the Dead. And return to insure the fertility of the crops with the festivities of May Day. Re-birth of Ancient Wisdom.

    The beautiful violet fairy that graces this issue of the ezine was created by Rae D’Jur. She, more than any other person, is responsible for pushing me into teaching herbal medicine. We met in the early 1970’s. I encouraged her in her interest in using the wild plants around us as food and medicine, and she encouraged mine. When she couldn’t make it back home for her class at a local community college, she convinced me to teach it for her. Little did I realize I would still be doing it forty years later. Last month, after Rae’s death, her oldest daughter sent me her mom’s class notes for those first classes. Life spirals around and around, through death and back again. Our younger selves reach out to us from images and words, evoking stirrings and melodies half remembered, unforgettable, savory, satisfying. Re-birth follows death.

    Around the same time – well, exactly forty years ago, according to him – I met Steven Foster, now noted herbalist and author Steven Foster. I used his book Herbal Emissaries (co-authored with Yue Chongxi, whose family were herbalists to the emperors for over three hundred years) to help prepare for my video course on adaptogens.  And I reach for his book Peterson’s Field Guide to Medicinal Plants (co-authored with our beloved James Duke) when I want to know how Steven relates to a plant that is new to me.  I feel doubly blessed to have found a teaching home at FireOmEarth in Eureka Springs, because it is Steven’s hometown and we get to spend time together. Life is good. Re-birth opens the heart.

    And here come the apprentices of 2017. After just a few days, they have received their first assignments and have learned how to harvest and prepare a variety of wild plants to create delicious salads.  What’s in your wild salad this week? Re-birth is a barefooted dance.
    We’ll be making more wild salads this weekend at both of my classes. Join us and re-birth your taste buds.
    Green blessings are everywhere.

  • Tuesday, March 21, 2017 8:42 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    A witch is a woman whose life is her Art.

    A witch works magic.

    A witch creates spells.

    A witch makes potions. 

    A witch has a familiar.

    A witch can be solitary, but she is always sought out.

    A witch can be a grandmother; yet witches are known to eat children.

    (A book of Inuit stories that I read one winter told tale after tale of grandmother secretly cooking the children for supper when father came home empty-handed from the hunt and blizzard winds blew.)

    A witch is the representative of the Earth.

  • Tuesday, March 21, 2017 8:39 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    A priestess serves the holy space for the community. She tends it, guards it, beautifies it, maintains it, repairs it. She is in service to the ritual and the ritual objects. Statues are dressed and undressed, washed, moved, displayed, paraded. Icons are lit, washed, filled, emptied, dusted, polished. Flowers and incense, water and fire, the priestess is responsible for the elements within the temple. She brings music and song to the ceremony. 

    A priestess can have real power, or she can be “just for show.” It may be hard to tell the difference, for there is a lot of show even in real power. Look for her athame (her magical knife) or her staff of power. (And do be careful not to touch her ritual tools.) Ask who initiated her. Be aware of how she directs the energy of the ceremony. The Priestess, especially the High Priestess, is the one who gives the ritual its presence. She creates a clear beginning, middle, and end and a specific focus for each sacred ceremony.

    Once you become sensitive, you can feel the power that comes when a woman sets aside her personal ego and takes responsibility for the good of all.  A Priestess is the representative of the Goddess.

    ~ Witch ~

  • Tuesday, March 21, 2017 8:38 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    A shaman is a community healer. A shaman is in service to those whose lives she shares. A shaman accesses altered states of consciousness, perhaps with the aid of psycho-active plants, or a repetitive drum beat, or with chant, with prayer, with physical extremes.

    She is at once a vital part of her community, and a person who is outside the norms of her community. She is often chosen and trained from birth, or she makes herself known by certain experiences that befall her around puberty. (For instance, at the onset of my puberty,

    I was stricken with viral pneumonia, and was nursed, at home, by my mother, for the two months I lay in a feverish hallucination. The last thing I remember is reaching behind myself to tie the bow on my dress; the next thing I remember is two months later, my mother spooning baby food into my mouth.) A Shaman is the representative of the Life Force..

    ~ Priestess ~

  • Tuesday, March 21, 2017 8:28 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Joyous Spring Equinox to you all.

    May Eoster’s sacred rabbit hop into your life with joy as the Egg of Creation balances on its end.

    Eoster being an ancient goddess of spring and fertility, who is accompanied by her symbol of fecundity – the Eoster rabbit.

    And, at the exact moment of the equinox, an egg will balance on its end. Mama Donna Henes continues to offer Eggs on End: Standing  On Ceremony for the joy of the public in New York City at every equinox, so you can see the balance for yourself.

    Which brings me to some thoughts I have been having about the words shaman, priestess, and witch.

    Shaman, a word from Siberia, means “woman with drum.” I am a shamanic herbalist and I train shamanic apprentices.

    A priestess is “a woman who presides over religious rites; a woman who is responsible for sacred duties.”  Though she may also be “the wife or concubine of a priest.” I am a High Priestess of the Goddess.

    “Witch” is, to my mind, the European equivalent of shaman, though without the drum. I am a Green Witch, initiated by Z Budapest both as a witch and, a decade later, as a High Priestess.

    Words are powerful. Words create the stories of our lives. Claiming ourselves as women who are shamans, priestesses, and witches is an important way of creating herstory in addition to history, now and in the future.

    What are your thoughts on these words? What do you call yourself?
    May you spring into the growing light with vibrant colors and green blessings.


    ~ Shaman ~

  • Tuesday, February 21, 2017 8:23 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Beautiful bountiful berries. Buy them frozen for optimum nutrition, or buy them fresh and freeze them before use. Some berries are available dried, too, but watch out, as many are coated in unwholesome oils when dried.

    Sumac berry tea is tart and tangy. All red berries and black berries and blue berries are adaptogens, so we vote for sumac as an American adaptogen.

    Hard at work making tinctures, teas, and infusions for the video adaptogens course. What a lot of fun I had exploring so many new herbs.

    Join us as we cook up a rainbow of mushroom remedies for optimum health. Eating both wild and cultivated mushrooms weekly is one way I stay energetic and free of disease.

    Most adaptogens are available as powders. These can be added to foods or just stirred into a cup of hot water for an instant tea. Mushroom powders work exceptionally well as an addition to beans.
  • Monday, February 20, 2017 9:59 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    February is Spring, and a New Year.

    From the dark days of winter, we swing into Spring light. Whether the groundhog sees her shadow or not, the coldest six weeks of the years lie ahead. Cold, with more light. Snow, with more light. Cold, and the trees are stirring. Snow, and the snowdrops dare to bloom. Cold and snow, and still, it is spring. It is spring.

    She loves you. Take a moment today to feel the love of the Earth. She isn’t angry at you. You haven’t injured her. She loves you. She sends you a valentine with lots of love. Plant a few seeds and she will give you a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Listen. She’s sent a bird to sing her love to you. She loves you. Her love is magic. It heals you.

    I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I create a yearly challenge for myself. I like challenges. When I do a jigsaw puzzle, I don’t look at the picture on the box. I like challenges. I heat with wood and milk goats in all sorts of weathers. I like challenges. This year my challenge is to learn about adaptogens, also known as Herbs of the First Class (in ancient China) and rasayanas (in India).

    To keep myself on schedule with my challenge, I committed to doing twelve radio shows on adaptogens for my regular show at HealthyLife.net. And, since I had made that commitment, when my daughter Justine asked me what new video course I wanted to do, the answer was obvious: Adaptogens.

    So Justine and Monica Jean left their sunny winter home in Costa Rica and joined me in the snowy Catskills. We worked hard for a week to create a course on Adaptogens. What fun we had! It was a challenge indeed. Learning how to pronounce the names of the Chinese and Indian adaptogens challenged me. Finding our way around the herb stores of China Town was challenging. Finding a parking spot was truly a challenge! We bought and collected herbs, made tinctures and teas and infusions, and filmed it all. When we were done, we found we had more than sixty videos on adaptogens, including some great “tastings” with Monica Jean.

    I discovered I knew a lot more about adaptogens than I knew that I knew. Adaptogens are non-toxic, non-specific, normalizing herbs. Exactly the qualities I seek in the herbs for our daily infusions. By studying adaptogens from China and India, I came to realize that nourishing herbal infusions are adaptogens too. Nettle and linden, red clover and oatstraw, comfrey leaf and hibiscus are just as adaptogenic as those herbs from far away.

    Adaptogens improve the functioning of the immune, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, reproductive, nervous, and hormonal systems. That’s why so many write to tell me that drinking a quart of infusion a day has enabled them to stop taking blood pressure medications, anti-anxiety drugs, anti-depressants, acid-blockers, allergy medicines, and diabetes pills. Adaptogens provide high-quality minerals and vitamins, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. That’s why my students find they don’t need any supplements and few pain relievers. Adaptogens energize by damping down reactivity to stress, strengthening muscles, and improving concentration. Within ten days of starting to drink at least two cups a day of nourishing herbal infusion, most folks tell me they feel ten years younger.Hooray for adaptogens!

    Work progresses well, if rather slowly, on my new book: Abundantly Well. I am enjoying that challenge too!

    Sending you all green blessings of Spring, love for Valentine’s Day, and adaptogens to help you through this challenging New Year.


  • Tuesday, January 10, 2017 3:37 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    A Weed Adventure in Phoenix Arizona

    Weeds are everywhere. Here is a respectable planter, at a lovely hotel, in the parking lot.

    Now get a little closer. Nice flowers, yes? Very pretty.

    Get even closer. Here’s our friend chickweed. Pretty and tasty and ever so useful.

    Ah, green blessings are everywhere, even in the parking lot.

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  • Tuesday, January 10, 2017 2:40 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Altars, Part 2

    6.    Silk Skirt Altar. Because it doesn’t have to have candles or incense or even a statue of the goddess to be an altar. An altar is a scared space, and my silk skirt drawer is as sacred as I can make it.

    7.    Bedside Altar. The energy here is old and stable, filled with dreams and magic, charms and cobwebs, goddesses and candles. On this altar every night I burn a beeswax candle for all the people I have met that day that need healing. I often add a candle for personal magic. Right now, my gold candle for a prosperous year is lit.

    8.    Jewelry Altar. Ever so much better than hiding the jewels in a box, I began putting necklaces on Tara decades ago, when I was spending time with Pauline Oliveros, and have continued ever since. Can you tell that I love amber? And isn’t that a great photo of me and my guardian angel Keyawis? I miss you my love.

    9.    Green Tara Altar. Om Tare. Tu Tare. Ture so ha. (Ohm tah-ray, two tah-ray, two ray so ha.) Tara is the keeper of the green chi force. Tara is the Mother of all Buddas. Tara appears in a rainbow of colors, but her green manifestation is my favorite. (Of course!)

    A Weed Adventure in Phoenix, Arizona

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