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Subscribe, Submit Your Work, Advertise “The new nexus of the folk herbalism resurgence.” –Paul Bergner “The most beautiful magazine ever... bar none! –Phyllis Light Welcome To a brief Sample Look at Plant Healer Magazine, the quarterly journal of the new Folk Herbalism resurgence... with details on membership, a list of departments and columns, a few pages of graphics and layout to give you a feel for this unique publication, and even some complete articles by Paul Bergner and others. Plant Healer Magazine is the online Quarterly for herbalists that everyone seems to be talking about... over 200 exciting, full color pages per issue, filled with stunning photography and illustrations, thought provoking and empowering columns and information packed articles. Plant Healer exists to inform and inspire you -- the many thousands of impassioned students and practicing herbalists of absolutely every age and level, plant and nature lovers of all kinds, and everyone taking responsibility for theirs and their family’s basic health care... a grassroots approach to the study and use of plant medicines, emphasizing folk herbal culture and community. As a subscribing member, you will receive a special code giving you access to your own personal member’s page on the Plant Healer site, where you can login to download not only the current edition of the journal but also all the back issues, in full color PDF form. You’ll also have access to exclusive, regularly rotated gifts such as teaching aids and exclusive articles by Kiva and other allied teachers, color art posters by Jesse Wolf and others that’s suitable for framing, discounts on upcoming events and courses, audio and video recordings of TWHC classes and concerts and more. To Subscribe – or To Download Submission Guidelines – please go to: www.PlantHealerMagazine.com The Most Effective herbs • Treating Clients • Medicine Making • Wild Foods Gathering Whole Foods Recipes • Simplified Botany for Herbalists • Constitutions & Energetics Special Features for Kids and Parents • Case Studies • Botanical Support in Midwifery Healing Traditions • Interviews With Leading Herbalists • Plant Conservation. Herb Gardening Plant Art & Plant Illustration • Herbalist Fashion and Herbalist Fiction with columns and articles by leading herbalist authors including: Paul Bergner • Kiva Rose • Christa Sinadinos • Matthew Wood • Susun Weed • Juliet Blankespoor Aviva Romm • Virginia Adi • Robin Rose Bennett • Katja Swift • Sean Donahue • Kristine Brown Phyllis Light • 7Song • Jim McDonald • Sam Thayer and Rosemary Gladstar
-Jesse Wolf Hardin
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Jesse Wolf Hardin: The Healing Journey: Explorations & Meanders!! ! Paul Bergner: The Herbal Rebel: Vitalist Teaching & Radical Thinking Seeing Folks: Case Studies & Therapeutics Plant Allies!! 7Song: Botany Illuminated Matthew Wood: EarthWise: The Practice of Western Herbalism! ! Jim McDonald: Foundational Herbcraft Traditions In Focus! ! ! ! ! ! Herbal Garb & Folk Fashion Aviva Romm: Birth Roots - Herbs for Midwives! ! ! ! ! Kristine Brown: Herbal Sprouts: Kids As Herbalists!! ! ! ! Iâ€™m An Herbalist Too!: Articles For & By Kids!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Into The Forest: Foraging and Wildcrafting! Sam Thayer: The Forager From The Hearth: Traditional Foodways & Recipes Distillation: Medicine Making Susun Weed: Wise Woman Ways! ! ! ! Plant Healer Interviews Cultivation & Propagation Advocacy & Activism! The Gathering Basket: A Basketful Of Meaningful Miscellany Jesse Wolf Hardin: The Medicine Bear: A Novel of Plant Medicine! ! ! Kiva Rose: The Medicine Trail: Wild Rambles, Tales & Wanderings
A group of 30 students is sitting in an upperThey know what I mean without further explanation. montane Rocky Mountain grove of The students agree that one plant, Aspen and Ponderosa Pine. All out of dozens, is the Grandmother. Cultivating Intimacy around them is a plant with white I instruct the teacher of the class to With Plants umbels. They are new incoming dug under the side of the plant and Listening Instead of Talking, students to our school on the cut a pinkie-sized piece of root Loving Instead of Taking fourth day of class. It is their third from the Grandmother, to show By Paul Bergner day in the field, learning how to the students how to take medicine Photos by Kiva Rose look at plants, learning how to without harming the plant or the love plants. We examine stand. They are upset. The the plant, try to memorize roots are in rocky soil, and its features, and then sit in do not yield to the teacher silence with it for twenty easily. There is a struggle. minutes. The students do It takes almost five not know the plant name, minutes to cut a small its uses, or anything other piece of root. We pass it than their observation of it. around. Some students are At the end of the twenty weeping. Others have minutes, they are deeply horrified looks on their moved. Deeply emotional. faces. One is enraged. They feel the power of this Another thinks that plant, hard to describe in perhaps she has come to words, other than just the wrong school because “powerful” “strong” of what we have done to “wise” “powerfully the plant. It takes a halffeminine” (their words). hour in class the next They feel that something morning to process new has opened in them emotionally what has because they have met this happened. And I am very plant and sat with it. I ask satisfied, satisfied that in a them to identify the matter of four days I have Grandmother or transmitted to a group of grandmothers of the stand. 30 strangers a true sense of
the sacredness of all life, that in the Greater Life, the plant flesh is as precious as their own, and that these students after this experience will never in their life rip up a stand of plants for their own gain. That they will also teach this to their students, and that from this place of love and respect for Life, they will be better clinical herbalists.
and sustained prayer, potentized by my very life force: I want to teach these students, I want them to understand the sacredness of the plant world the way I understand it. To feel it the way I feel it. I begin to talk to the grandmother plant. I was planning to show the harvesting method with one of the peripheral plants in the stand. She says to take the root from her. I argue with her. I say let one of the younger plants have the experience of wounding and regeneration. She says let her have the experience and she can transmit the experience to the whole stand. The conversation continues. She says her experience is more important, that elders can learn more from experience because their have more context in which to put it. That the younger generation needs to be associated with elders in order to receive transmissions of the experience. She says the entire stand of her plants is connected, roots touching, in a great family web, and that the whole community communicates their experiences freely. I follow her instructions. And my prayer is answered in the students. I began to study herbs in the 1970s. I did not know plants in the wild until much later. I used herbs of commerce. I did not attempt to harvest herbs or make medicine for many years. In the late 1980s I became more immersed in the natural world, I gradually learned several dozen medicinal plants in the Pacific Northwest. And around that time I went a little crazy. I got some basic training in survival and navigation skills and for five years spent every spare minute I could alone in the wilderness areas of around Mount Hood and Southern Washington. I did not go out in order to “get” anything other than myself and silence. I became acutely attuned to the voice of Spirit, and the the instructions for my Calling. Now I began to meet many plants and got to know them first without knowing there names. I found that if I did learn a name, it then became harder for me to see or connect with the plant so I stopped trying to learn names. I would merge into a fog of timeless unity, and see the plants emerge into and out of view from that fog. I became more interested in harvesting medicine for personal use, but every time I would extend my hand to take a leaf or flower, Spirit would say “no.” Once I
Oshá, Ligusticum porteri, root
There is more to this story. As we begin to sit in silence, I clear my mind. I am fairly adept at clearing my mind. I've done meditative practice for almost 40 years. I've spent seven years sitting almost every day in one spot with my butt against the same tree in a natural setting, clearing my mind, and seeing what it there, and studying nature on its own terms instead of mine. I have spent thousands of hours alone, offtrail in wilderness areas, seeking clarity and sacred silence. Slow walking so as not to make a ripple in the environment. Today, I find clarity and inner silence within a few minutes. Although my mind is clear, my desire is very strong, a passionate heartfelt 31
Oshá, Ligusticum porteri, fruiting inflorescences
unconsciously pulled a flower off a plant, and in the same moment, my other hand brushed a thorn on another plant. Once, against the instructions of spirit, I took some branch tips from a Western Red Cedar. I immediately felt guilty, and for the next entire year, I felt a heartbreak, that my love relationship with Cedar was injured. Finally a year later I was back in the same place, meditating, praying for forgiveness, and when I opened my eyes, I saw blown down cedar tips all around me. All along the trail. I told the story to my students that year, and then and ever since, my students have refused to cut a branch from a living cedar tree, and have waited for blow-down or a fallen tree to take their medicine. We have learned and developed ways to take the medicine that other plants give away. After one weeklong student trip to Mt Hood, I prepared to leave camp, and Spirit told me to get down on my hands and knees and draw every plant in that camp before I left. It took 3 days. By the end of that time I had drawn and fallen in love with more than 80 plants. Eventually I repeated this process in many areas of the West, and I have now met deeply and fallen in love with many hundreds of plants. Not just “medicinal” plants. Not use “useful” plants. Not just plants that are “good for” something. Plants on their own terms, with their own life, with our shared life and love. These were my authentic instructions, and I followed them for the next twenty years. Why I was being led on this unusual path for an herbalist was a mystery to me throughout this time, and embarrassed I hardly told anyone about it. An herbalist is supposed to be a medicine-maker after all.
Brounstein of Oregon, a master of plant identification and wildcrafting. He said the first lesson of wildcrafting was knowing how to not pick the plant. I understood that I now have post graduate education level not-picking skills. And the power and insight that has come with it. My specialty now in what I teach is to show how to take medicine from a plant without killing or otherwise harming it. This could easily be an essay on ethical wildcrafting, but it is not. It is an essay about listening rather than taking, loving rather than “getting,” about stopping your hand as it reaches out to take a plant, about lifelong commitment to the natural world, and about craving true guidance and Calling with the same intensity as the wanting of water, food, or air.
Not long ago, the summer before we visited the Osha patch above, the instructions changed. Simple and direct. Spirit said: “Now harvest. Make medicine. Teach how to harvest.” I understood my training when I spent some time that summer with Howie 32
1. Clients are experts on what ails them, and if you let them, they will tell you.
3. It's a very good idea to have an intake form. I use Michael Moore's (http://www.swsbm.com Herb Manuals: Intake Form, p. 1 & Your job is to be there, to 2), but any form that will let Wisdom for Beginners listen, and to offer advice and or Tips, Hints and Wise Words for Herbalists the client mark various herbs. Don't interrupt. Take bodily functions and their Who Are Just Starting to See Clients notes instead, and ask your irregularities will work as a by Henriette Kress questions once the client has starting point for your finished what he/she's going conversation. (It's even better to say. if you actually know what those various irregularities mean, in terms of physiological If they talk about one or the other diagnosis you've imbalances.) never heard about before, ask them about it. They'll tell you; you're a The intake form will herbalist, after all, help you get not a doctor. You're i m p o r t a n t not supposed to information from know all that your client before medical terminology. you shoo them out the door, happy to 2. Don't focus on the have been of help. diagnosis, focus on It's a teensy bit the person and their awkward to hear symptom picture. things like "Oh yes, and my leg will be For instance, doctors amputated next have about 100 week" or similar, different diagnoses while you're saying for rheumatism. I your good-byes. think there's about Arnica cordifolia ÂŠ Rosalee de la ForĂŞt five different causes 4. You should for rheumatism. I see absolutely count all the multitude of diagnoses as a medical way of treating family and friends as herbal experience saying "I have no idea why you have rheumatism so I'll make a list of all your symptoms instead". Friends and family shouldn't tell you their most private secrets (clients should, though. And you
Southern herbalists have long recognized the weight, leaky gut syndrome, mental fog, skin devastating health havoc wreaked by an infestation problems and rashes, hypoglycemia and itchy nose, of parasites, those little critters skin or anus. Parasites, as a which depend upon a host (too group, are shocking versatile Parasites often the human body!) for and can infest the small & Other Infestations: nutrition and protection. intestines, lower bowel, Southern Appalachian Herbal Treatment Because symptoms thyroid, liver, pancreas, accompanying an infestation appendix, lungs, lymphatic by Phyllis Light may progress slowly, parasite tissue and vaginal tissue. The infection is often overlooked by symptoms of a parasitic practitioners as a source of chronic illness. And infection resemble the symptoms of many chronic parasites come in all shapes and sizes. Some are illness such as fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, and visible to the naked eye while others are so tiny they diabetes. When in doubt I do not hesitate to suggest can only be viewed under a a parasite cleanse. microscope. Parasites have a complex life Parasites common to the United cycle that progresses States include roundworms, through several stages â€“ tapeworms, pinworms, flukes, eggs, larvae and adult. They and assorted bacteria and can remain in any of these viruses. They are generally cycles for lengthy periods of transmitted through food, time, patiently waiting until especially in undercooked conditions are just right for meats, through contaminated them to resume growth. water, hand contact with an Parasites tend to reproduce infected individual, pets or around the full moon so a farm animals, and going parasite cleanse is most barefoot in the outdoors can effective during the week also make you vulnerable. before full moon or during Water borne sources of parasites the waxing moon cycle. include contaminated bottled water, outdoor streams, saunas An accumulation of toxins and swimming pools. Despite and waste materials in the what you might think, chlorine does not kill most colon presents the perfect environment or breeding parasites and most filtering systems do not keep ground for parasites. Elders taught me that the first them out. In a study carried out by the University of step in eliminating parasites should be the removal Virginia in 1997 and funded by the CDC, researchers of these wastes. Fiber can help cleanse the colon and found that the little pests were still actively their remove the toxic build-up on which parasites thrive. nasty selves after 2 hours of continuous exposure to A cleanse also encourages healthy peristalsis and household bleach. Still, good hygiene practices, like acts like a broom to sweep the intestines clean of hand washing, can help reduce the risk of infection toxins and pull the parasites from the lining of the from many sources such as pets and farm animals. digestive tract. At that point, anti-parasite herbs will have a greater effect. Parasites can cause fever and abdominal pain, hinder absorption of minerals and lead to symptoms Parasites also flourish in a sugary environment. So of malabsorption such as anemia. They can also avoid processed sugars, processed grains, especially cause diarrhea, eczema, joint or muscle aches and white flour, alcohol and dairy products. Eat a diet pains, restlessness, sleep disturbances, allergies, the high in plant fibers with well-washed fruits and inability to gain weight or the inability to lose vegetables.
Botanical Name(s): Aralia californica (A. racemosa has many similar uses) The roots can be harvested in late fall, winter, or Common Name(s): Elk clover, early spring. Harvest after the California spikenard, California berries have matured and Aralia ginseng, False sarsaparilla dropped so that the seeds can (Elk Clover, California Spikenard) Family Name: Araliaceae spread. Text & Photos by Christa Sinadinos Description Habitat and Locality: Part(s) Used: The roots and the Aralia californica is one of the berries are used for most preparations, and should largest herbaceous plants growing in North be prepared separately. The leaves can be used in America. Its native habitat is Northern California tea. and Southern Oregon. It can be found growing in the shade on the banks of Aralia has large pinnate, small streams that are fed compound leaves with three from snowmelt in the leaflets in a group. The roots mountains. and leaves have a pungent, sweet aroma. The flowers Aralia root can be cultivated have a light, white color; they from the seeds, if you can grow in umbel-like clusters. find a source for them. The immature fruits are Whenever I harvest the wild white and mature into a roots, I save the root crowns deep, purple-black colored and replant them in soil mix. berry. The berries mature in After a month or two (with September or October and frequent watering), the roots can be harvested in the fall. are ready to transplant. Make sure to leave many berries as seeds for the next Every Aralia planted in my years’ growth. garden was started from root crowns; I’ve replanted many established root-crowns in their native habitat The root grows from one to four inches wide and as well. It is a wonderful way to recycle roots you’ve has a light to medium brown color. When the root is harvested and to keep wild stands from being cut it oozes a thick, sticky, whitish-yellow resin. Like depleted. The plant requires partial shade and all members of the ginseng family, each year of frequent watering for optimal growing conditions. growth is represented by a leaf scar. Count the The leaves will burn or turn yellow when they are number of scars to learn the age of the plant. over-exposed to sun.
put on a showy display with the goldenrods and asters. In the next few segments of Botany With the sheer number of species it The Asteraceae Illuminated we will focus on one of the means that anyone interested in Part I (of II) most commonly encountered plant learning the plants around them must Text & Photos families; the Asteraceae (also known as get to know the Asteraceae’s botanical By 7Song the Compositae or Sunflower family). It identifying characteristics. The good is an intriguing family worth the effort news is that as a family, there are often to know. For starters, it is the biggest obvious shared features making it one family with the largest number of individual species of the easier families to learn to recognize. with approximately 24,000. This means that this family comprises about 10% of all the flowering The other name for this family is the Compositae, plants (angiosperms) on earth, pretty darn due to the multiple flowers per flowerhead remarkable. (Side note: believe it or not, the second (inflorescence). This is the most unifying feature largest family is the Orchidaceae, family of the (there are exceptions of course) but once you can orchids, more on them another time) Wherever you spot the many flowers tightly packed together are, you are likely to come across a number of appearing as one flower (imagine a sunflower here) species from this family. And as I write this article in you are on your way to learning the Asteraceae. late autumn in the Northeast, it is the last family to
–––Photography by 7Song–––
Due to the huge number of species, the Asteraceae (as with other large plant families) is divided up into tribes, a category between family and genus. This article will stick to just genera and species, but tribes are commonly used to make Asteraceae identification easier by further dividing this very large family. The basic premise on which the Asteraceae is built is having many flowers clustered tightly together looking like a single flower. This favors crosspollination as pollinating insects land on this flowerhead and move pollen from one flower to another. This way the seeds from the individual flowers will be genetically diverse as they are being pollinated from a nearby flower, and not by themselves. This diversity leads to success in spreading one’s self around, and creating more diversity over time, which is why there are so many Compositae family members throughout the world Identifying the Asteraceae
as a type of edible sweet food). An unshelled sunflower seed is an achene, as is a dandelion ‘seed’. So the achenes sit on the receptacle. Here’s where it gets more complex. There are two main types of Asteraceae flowers;ray flowers, and disk (or disc) flowers. Asteraceae inflorescences (flowerheads) come in three main types, those with only ray flowers (ligulate), those with only disk flowers (discoid) and the third type with ray and disc flowers (radiate). (See photos). Ray and disk flowers share many similarities but due to the differences of their respective corollas (petals) they look different. Future articles will discuss these differences as well as other aspects of the Asteraceae. Summary
When I describe to people how an Asteraceae flower is not one flower, but many flowers appearing as one flower, they often don’t believe it at first. It is hard to imagine each petal-like piece being an individual flower. But let me conjure this image for you. Imagine a dandelion flower (see accompanying photo) now imagine that each ‘petal’ in the dandelion is a separate individual flower. Not a petal or part of a flower, but a fully-functioning true flower, sitting amongst many other very similar looking flowers. This is what you are looking at; each one of these flowers is a stand-alone flower. Once you understand this one aspect, than you are on your way to being able to spot one of the many Asteraceae around you. There are other parts of the Asteraceae inflorescence that are important to know and this first article will point out just a few of these features. First, all of the flowers (sometimes called florets due to their dimunitive size) sit together on top of a common piece of plant tissue, called the receptacle (see photo). In the photos with receptacles you will also see the achene, the fruit of the Asteraceae. The achene contains the seed, (reminder; botanically the fruit of a plant is the mature ovary which contains the seed(s), compared to the common usage of fruit
1. It is the most common plant family worldwide, hence the importance in learning to identify them.
There is much more that will be covered about this common plant family, but for now here are some of the important points:
2. The Asteraceae inflorescence (flowerhead) is made up of many individual flowers clustered closely together, often resembling a single flower. 3. This arrangement allows for cross-pollinating by visiting pollinators. 4. The individual flowers are often called florets, due to their small size 5. The receptacle is the piece of plant tissue that all the florets sit on. 6. The achene is the fruit (mature ovary) of the florets. It contains the seed and sits on top of the receptacle. 7. There are two main types of flowers, the ray and the disk. 8. There are three main types of inflorescences; those with just ray flowers (ligulate), just disk flowers (discoid) and both ray and disc (radiate) 9. Learning to identify a plant as an Asteraceae is pretty simple once one understands some of the basic characteristics that make up this family. 81
There are a number of different ways in which usual order (arteries out of the heart, veins back to relaxation affects the cardiovascular system. Both it) is reserved for these organs. Thus, asthma is the heart structures and the associated with passive venous vessels can become relaxed. congestion. Finally, the side of Energetics of The Because the veins are the more the heart which is more Cardiovascular System passive half of the vascular circle intimately conjoined with the Part 4 of 5 when there is relaxation in the venous vasculature – the right Cardiovascular Damp/Relaxation vessels the blood tends to sit on side – is prone to structural By Matthew Wood the venous side. This is why relaxation, stretching, and varicosities and hemorrhoids dystonia. In stimulating Exclusive Plant Healer Excerpts occur in veins, not in arteries. astringents like Aesculus From His Unpublished Works These are the most simple hippocastanum and Collinsonia structural changes associated canadensis we all of this with cardiovascular relaxation. phenomena – varicose veins, hemorrhoids, high " blood pressure, swollen liver, asthma, and When the venous stasis is generalized there is a distention of the right side of the heart. generalized surplus of blood in the veins, resulting in turgid or varicosed veins. As the veins expand This condition was called “passive venous some of the valves used to keep the blood from congestion” or “venous stasis” in the old American slipping backward in the veins are medical literature. In European blown out, producing varicose veins medicine this is still recognized as a (if near the surface) and “spider major cause of high blood pressure veins” if deeper in the tissue. It is and heart disease and is hard for the blood to be pumped denominated “hypotonia” – this has back up from the feet to the heart, an unrelated meaning in America. producing a back pressure on the The major formulas for this heart which often results in high condition in Russian herbalism blood pressure and heart disease. include hawthorn and sweet Other areas which depend upon the everlasting, both of which are venous circulation can also be nutritive and mildly astringent adversely affected. The portal vein (Zevin, 1997, 173). can become turgid and full, resulting " in ballooning out of hemorrhoidal In women there frequently will also tissue and congestion of the liver. be menstrual problems due to The lungs also receive their blood stagnation in return blood flow. supply through the veins, since the Because it takes a lot of energy to
tradition |tr#ˈdi sh #n|noun 1 the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.
what happened to the little old Korean man who ran the lab. He Photos & Text explained to me in broken by Rebecca Altman English that there’s no way sheng ma would do that. To illustrate, he pulled out I had a crying fit a few a copy of Bensky, turned to years ago, while I was still the right page, and said in TCM school. It lasted ‘see, you’re wrong’. This around 9 hours, the incident highlighted to me majority of which I spent a glaring difference up a tree in the back between East and West. garden, refusing to talk to Here in the West, we are anyone or see reason. Out constantly seeking out new of the blue, I heard the information, better, faster, words ‘black cohosh’ start more efficient ways to do to ring in my head, things. In the East, it’s repeatedly. So I disentangled quite the opposite. I had a myself from my branch, and snuck back into the conversation with a lovely ayurvedic herbalist in house, to find my black cohosh tincture. South India who told me, while we were discussing " the different herbs we use, that he’d never sell You know how sometimes the only way you find anything new even if it worked better, because out that you were in pain is when the pain stops? people wouldn’t buy something that was nonWell I only knew that my liver was in a vice grip traditional. Here in the West, it seems that things can because, five seconds after taking 3 little drops of never be exotic enough. black cohosh tincture, my liver unwound. As if it " were a large sponge being wrung free of water, and I was told repeatedly by colleagues at TCM school the hands that were wringing it had finally let go. that there IS no Western herbal tradition- that if Then, as if my body were operating of its own there were, we’d have books that were written a accord, I sat down right where I was, on the living thousand years ago, and we’d not have to ‘borrow’ room floor, and stopped crying. from TCM and ayurveda and goodness knows " where else. For years I had nothing to say in The next day, on duty at the pharmacy at school, I response. But the more I learned about Western went straight to the drawer labelled ‘sheng ma’ and herbalism, the more I interacted with other pulled out a chunk of root and started explaining herbalists and teachers and plants and books, and
Tradition & Western Herbalism
attended conferences based on carrying Western herbalism forwards, the more I realised that we do have a tradition. A strong and rich tradition. It’s just... non-traditional.
has a different background of leaning, having picked up information and inspiration from different people, books and places. It’s the Western way to build on what’s come before us, to take the tools and knowledge we’ve been handed and make it our own. Yes, I think it’s easy to look at this mishmash of people and say ‘that’s not a tradition’, but I think that mish-mash advocates a closer look through different eyes. Eyes that see tradition not as same-ness but as a current.
What comes to mind when you think of the East? I think of things like ancestry, tradition, reverence, ancestor worship, meditation, respect for elders, and even more than that I think of unity. One-ness. All individuals being part of a greater whole. Now think of the West. What do you think about? Progress, change, evolution, science, rational thinking. The roar of individuation as every ego wants to leave its mark. One-ness means a different thing in the West. It is the one of the solitary-- the lone wolf-- not the one of unity. Where the East has its face turned peacefully to the past, we in the West, with our brows furrowed, plough ahead into the future. Eastern herbal traditions live in reverence to their elders. There are sifus and gurus and lineages that can be traced back to men who over the years have been ascribed with almost god-like powers. Here, we have the individual. The herbal rebel. If the motto of the East is ‘I am one of the many that make the whole’ then that of the West is ‘I emerge from the many-made-whole as one’.
Our tradition is our individuality. Our one-ness. Our rebellion. Our tradition is the roots that bind us even as we forge ahead alone. It’s the way of the Western man (and woman) to build on what’s come before, to integrate not to exclude. And that’s what we do. Constantly. Our knowledge in the Western Herbal Tradition doesn’t come from one central canon, or descend from one great master. Each one of us individuals is composite of our teachers and mentors, of the books we’ve read and the plants we’ve bonded with. Not a single one of us practices the same medicine, and nor will we in the future. We Western herbalists are like a mycelial network. The body of the teachings lies unseen spread across the surface, and then every now and then in the right conditions one of us pops up out of the soil bringing our own history with us into practice.
It’s easy to see how it doesn’t look like a tradition: our lone wolves are all so different. Some of us sound like scholars, and some like new age hippies. Some of us use flower essences, and some laugh at them. Some of us love working with psychoemotional issues and others like patching up wounds. Some use crystals, some use river rocks, some advocate running around naked under the full moon and others wouldn’t dream of such nonsense. Some people use an ayurvedic constitutional model, some use TCM, some use Western energetics, some use Western science, and some make up their own. There’s a huge spectrum of difference in what we do, how we practice, how we see a patient and the models that we use. And of course there is! Each of us 99
fashion: [ˈfaSHən] noun
period. Against the perpetual current of conformism, the individual swims: the bone pierced We’re launching a series of – barbarians as they were called, yes, you’re hearing me right – derisive of the starched red A Mt. Man’s Introduction herbal fashion articles. mini-dresses and matching To Our New breast plates of the machine-like Herbalist Fashion Column If you are at all like me, your Roman legions. The first and well practiced reaction Highlander clans that cleaved to by Jesse Wolf Hardin may be aversion at the the their very own signature plaids, thought of anything so as even more so their seemingly superficial and occasionally rogue sons that commercial as concern over how one dresses or insisted on leggings instead. The leather clad and decorates themselves. This aversion is likely in fur trimmed frontiersmen, all setting their caps or response to the top two contemporary definitions of feathers in particular ways in order to stand out the word as spelled out in the dictionary, which from one another, bushwhacking the white trouser ingloriously include “1. a popular trend, esp. in wearing Redcoats marching without a single natty styles of dress and ornament or manners of bow out of place. The greasers, as they proudly behavior, such as ‘his hair is cut in the latest called themselves, adopting “wife-beater” sleeveless fashion’;” (how bloody conformist!) and “2. the teeshirts and faded skin-tight bluejeans to avoid the production and marketing of new styles of creased poly suits of their uncool parents. The goods” (how deep! how meaningful!). No wonder hippies I grew up with as a young runaway, we bristle at the sight of the underfed models on the marvelously individualized and colorfully covers of so called fashion magazines, turn away in expressed, along with their children who may disgust at the backwards baseball caps and plasticchoose to express a darker side with spiked collars sequined nylon club skirts that may happen to be and outfits of mourners’ black, or to do the the uniform of normality at a given time, chafe at perceived opposite of their parents by saving up for the idea of being expected to adopt certain modes of the look of tailored muslin suits. dress just to fit in with the people around us, and may lean towards organic material, hand crafted Such derivation and individuation is not always and highly personal or individualized pleasant or of interest to my critical eye, but even communications or demonstrations instead. the most disastrously arrayed can be said to dress more distinctively than the masses, usually in ways Such demonstrations have long been a that represent how they feel about themselves even distinguishing feature of alternative culture, the if not always their true or inner natures. It is that counter-culture by any name and in any era or time true nature that we best seek to evoke, as we select,
skewer, recombine and renovate materials of choice and happenstance to create and re-create our own signature style. Leather for the ruralist, the Paleo diet town-park tracker, the cowboy or cowgirl at heart. Lace or silk for the steampunk plant delver, organic hemp for the vegan, the localvore activist, the fashion gadfly. For the herbalist, this could mean N.Y. black or California pastels, depending on their reflection of one’s region, predominate weather or ruling mood. The earthy and comfortable skirts of Appalachian housewives, bespeaking a valued informality, sensibility and modesty setting clients at ease. Low necked garb, barely containing an animal sensuality unreduced by both happy marriages and a strong plant and work focus. Goddessy garments that drape and gather, ripple in the wind and call forth circle and song. Or Levis making their statement about the practicality of the wearer, a canvas work apron marked with what seems to be green chlorophyl stains. In its Middle English usage, “fashion” meant to make/create an appearance, and until the 1500‘s it was still something that one did rather than what one subscribed to or went out and purchased. Folks fashioned how they looked, to communicate without words their origins, leanings, predilections, preferences and priorities, sensibilities and tastes, lifestyle and life’s work. Hence the farmer’s utilitarian scarf around the neck, the indicative leather bottomed britches of the horse trainer, the dancer’s bangles, and the doctor’s pocket protector with its array of pens and assorted medical utensils. And most crucial to us of all definitions, may be the word “fashion’s” earliest, from the ancient Latin facere, meaning “doing” and “making”... as we each make our appearance and dress increasingly organic and elemental to who we are in whole, and an expression of not only how we wish to be seen and known, but of what we do and therefore are.
Through the course of at least four Plant Healer issues, we will have bit of fun exploring just a few such representative expressions of the herbal practitioner, the practical and the decorative that mark us devotees of not only a healing practice but of beauty: ever so useful Pixie Pockets & Tool Belts, Herbalist Tattoos (send us your photos or suggestions!), Kiva modeled Feral Fashion, and beginning with a celebration of kilts for plantpickin’ wild woods roamers. Be yourself... and let your herbal flag fly.
SaraLisa, 30 a year-old woman, is calling you on the through my writing and words, but I also try to phone. She is fourteen weeks pregnant and in emotional inspire body-confidence and intelligent, distress. Three weeks ago she had a commonsense decision-making. few days of spotting so she went to her I also provide information on Miscarriage: midwife’s office for an evaluation. She the herbs that can help, and Supporting Women Through Early had an ultrasound that showed that warning signs to look out for. Pregnancy Loss, Botanically her baby had probably died at about 11 Many women have written to By Aviva Romm weeks of pregnancy. The midwife and me about feelings of back-up obstetrician told her she could abandonment by their midwife wait a couple of weeks to see if the or doctor who was unable to miscarriage happened naturally. Now they are recommend anything other than a D&C for recommended a dilatation and curettage (D&C), but Sara treatment, and many herbalists and naturopaths does not want to have this procedure have written, seeking my help performed. She would rather in working with a client/ miscarry in the privacy of her own patient in the midst of a home instead of in a hospital miscarriage or to thank me operating room where the D&C for protocols they’ve put would be done. The doctor told her together based on what that she is at risk of hemorrhage they’ve learned using my and infection. She has not had any books, to help someone further spotting and she is not miscarry without medical having contractions. She is a friend intervention. Women and of a friend and is requesting your practitioners have described © Schwangerschaft assistance as an herbalist in natural miscarriage as a completing the miscarriage. She sacred process that allowed has no major medical problems. What do you do? completion and resolution, rather than the trauma and grief so many find themselves with after a Miscarriage is a life event that most of us will medically managed miscarriage. encounter amongst our women friends, relatives, and clients. In my practice, the above phone call is Miscarriage can cause even seasoned midwives, not uncommon. In fact, I receive more “thank you’s” herbalists, and naturopaths to feel uncertain about and miscarriage stories than any other type from what to do and how to help –or even afraid of folks who have read my books and attended my getting involved in miscarriage care at all. While classes and have learned how to help themselves or miscarriage requires healthy respect, it is not someone else through a miscarriage naturally and something to be afraid of and it is an area where herbally. A lot of what I offer is emotional support women greatly need help and guidance—and where
The holiday season is here and with it comes from the Pinaceae family. These evergreen trees are festivities of lights, evergreen antiseptic, warming, trees, stockings and gifts. Live decongestant and aromatic. All Evergreen, Ever-Giving trees are a special way of enjoying have an affinity for the Text and Photos the holiday season and become respiratory, nervous and By Kristine Brown the gift that keeps on giving since endocrine systems. Before you you can plant them and let them purchase your tree, verify with grow in your yard. If your family likes the idea of a the folks running the tree lot that the trees have not real tree for the holiday season, consider purchasing been sprayed with chemicals. This should not be a a live tree (a tree that has his root ball intact for planting) from your local nursery. Often, it is the same price or less than a cut tree and you spare the tree’s life! You’ll also have the tree to harvest from year after year, provide homes for birds, squirrels and other critters and return a tree to the earth. If you don’t have room to plant a tree and don’t have any friends or relatives who have room to take one, don’t worry, you can still make valuable use of your evergreen tree! Whether your tree be pine, spruce or fir, he can be harvested for medicine. All are rich in vitamin C and
Order now for delivery by the holiday... for your favorite youngâ€™n of any age! And be sure to give us their name so Jesse can sign a copy to them special!
I Love Nettle Vinegar! Minerals are important to keep your body healthy. A great way to get your minerals is with Nettle Vinegar. It has iron, which is good for your blood. It also has calcium, which is good for your bones and teeth. But the best thing about it is that it helps with growing pains. Growing pains happen when your body doesn’t have enough minerals to build bones and muscle. So if you have growing pains, you need Nettle Vinegar! Nettle Vinegar tastes surprisingly good! It has a flavor like salad with your favorite v i n e g a r y dressing.
Nettle Vinegar By Amber Swift
And it’s easy to make! Here’s how you do it: Ingredients •Fresh or Dry Nettle. If you use fresh Nettle, try harvesting some with your bare hands. If you are very calm, she won’t sting you! But this time of year, you will have to get dried nettle. •Apple Cider Vinegar. It’s best to get raw apple cider vinegar because if your vinegar is pasteurized, all the good bacteria is dead. If you want to have bonus minerals, you can add seaweed. If you’re not a seaweed fan, just use plain Nettle. But you should try it at least once, it’s pretty good! In our last batch, we used Kelp.
When you’re ready to use your Nettle vinegar, you need to strain it out. If you have a small jar, you can use a tea strainer to catch the Nettle when you pour out the vinegar. If you have a large jar, use a big strainer or a french press. You should take a shotglass full every day to make sure you don’t get growing pains. If you really like it, you can take more – it’s good for you! If it feels burny, you can mix it with water or take it when you’re eating food.
Instructions Fill a jar with Nettle, then pour in the vinegar almost to the top. Leave a little room in case the leaves expand and you have to add more vinegar. Put a lid on the jar nice and tight, and leave it to sit for 2-4 weeks. You should shake your vinegar once in a while. Shaking your jar will make sure that the vinegar gets through all the Nettle, and no clumps of Nettle are sticking together without vinegar. When you shake the jar, you can also give your energy to your Nettle vinegar, so that it comes out extra good.
â€œIf we choose to use plants as medicine, we then become Herbalism can be simply summarized as the study accountable for the health of the of medicinal plants. wild gardens. We begin a coRevitalizing Our Wild Gardens creative partnership with the But for me, the path to Text & Photography by plants, giving back what we receive becoming an herbalist has by Rosalee de la ForĂŞt -- health, nourishment, beauty and encompassed much more. It has protection. We have reached a time inspired me to recognize my coin history when ignoring this relationship with the creative partnership with the earth. It has changed resources we use would be disastrous.â€? my whole outlook on life and led me towards living " " -Rosemary Gladstar more intimately with the earth and as a result it has " " Founder of United Plant Savers led me to take more and more responsibility for my actions.
We live in a world where the consequences of what and how we consume is hidden from us. We don’t see the children and women who work 18-hour shifts and get paid next to nothing to sew our clothes. We don’t have to walk by a landfill every day to see where our garbage ends up. We can’t even imagine the price that is really being paid for oil and most of us don’t have to live with the horrific consequences of nuclear power... yet. Instead, most of us in the developed world can spend our weekends at the mall, put the garbage on the curbs on Tuesdays, fill up the gas tank (while complaining about the cost) and flip on a light switch without ever having to recognize or take responsibility for these actions.
Mention echinacea or false unicorn root to a compassionate group of herbalists and many will shake their head sadly at the devastating loss people have inflicted on these precious plant populations. In a reaction to the over-harvesting of plants I’ve heard more and more herbalists ask the question of whether or not we should wildcraft medicinal plants at all. But discussions about wildcrafting deserve to go well beyond the black and white argument of “should we” or “shouldn’t we.” In this article I am going to address the cultural myth that the “wilderness” thrives when untouched by humans. I’ll then discuss the consequences of a hands-off policy and give my call to action for herbalists to be stewards of the earth by actively visiting, harvesting and cultivating wild areas.
Luckily, we live in a transitioning world where many of us are waking up to the fact that business cannot continue as usual. Herbalism, for me, has been a part of this waking up process. It has given me new eyes to question cultural myths, leading to new paradigm shifts within my own reality. In my world, the study of plants goes well beyond the mechanical motion of ingesting herbal material with the hopes of alleviating health complaints (although that is pretty cool!) Instead, it has opened my eyes to my role on this earth and the recognition that I can directly rely on my surroundings for medicine and to feed, clothe and shelter myself. By harvesting and cultivating with my own two hands I can rekindle this lost partnership between humans and the earth we reside on. After many years of being a radical activist, reclaiming this heritage is my most revolutionary act.
Cultural Myths In a fearful reaction to decreased plant populations I’ve heard several herbalists advocate that all of our harvested plants should come from cultivated sources. Cultivation is an interesting topic. The ethnoecological book, Keeping it Living (Deur and Turner), focuses on the ways natives on the northwest coast actively cultivated and managed the land. One example is given of Europeans arriving in the area to find beautiful open land with a park-like appearance. To their untrained eyes they assumed these wild lands were untouched so they used the justification that the natives were not using the land as a means of taking it for their own uses. However, after just a few years of european “ownership,” pristine wild lands became a jungle of overgrown shrubs and fallen trees which was more prone to severe fires and other natural disasters.
Inherent to the study of plants for medicine is the growing awareness of how our actions directly affect the health of this planet we call home. As herbalists we know we rely on the green living creatures outside our doors (as opposed to most people who get their food from a box and their medicine from a bottle). This reliance makes us more sensitive to their demise. Wildcrafting plants for our food and medicine is a direct link to expanding our awareness around the health of our environment. 158
We now know the natives were cultivating and managing the land in a way that supported the health and abundance of the plants and trees that existed there. It was not their way to walk into an area, rip up everything that was found growing there already, in order to plant rows of grains. Instead, they pruned shrubs like willow in order to cultivate nice long shoots for making baskets. In the fall they burnt the hills to keep shrubs down and favor the growth of edible and medicinal foods.
rice root, the bulb of this plant contains numerous rice-like plant bulblets. If these bulblets stay connected to the original bulb they do not become a new plant. However, if they are separated and then spread around they will grow into a new plant. Thus, by harvesting this plant and spreading the bulblets around you can increase its numbers 20 fold. Also, the act of harvesting the bulbs helps to aerate the soils, furthering allowing for more plant growth.
As Europeans took over the lands the tending of the wild ceased. Shrubs grew, making it difficult for lower lying plants to grow. Cattle was put out, resulting in compacted soil and overgrazed lands. Over a short period of time the productivity of the land decreased and many couldnâ€™t understand why.
Ethno-ecology shows us that the act of leaving the land untouched is detrimental to particular plant populations and the ecosystem as a whole. We can start to understand that, just as plants have evolved their reproductive system alongside pollinators, they have also evolved alongside humans and are thus expecting to be tended and dug to promote their growth. By removing ourselves from the equation we are depriving the plant world one of their allies. Recognition that we are only as healthy as the earth around us can inspire us to go out into the wild and help the plants grow to their full potential.
When my husband and I moved to the Methow Valley we were thrilled at the wildcrafting possibilities. This valley used to be the home of the Methow people who lived here year round, relying on local plants and animals for food. Since the area hadnâ€™t been harvested in 50-100 years we thought the wild plant populations would be abundant. But as we explored our valley more and more we were surprised to find that the important edible plants seemed few and far between. How did people survive on the meager supply of plants?
Herbalist As Stewards By harvesting our own plants for food and medicine we can make a much stronger positive impact on the earth than by simply ordering our plants via UPS or even harvesting them from our raised beds in the backyard.
It was because of this question and our search for answers that we became aware of ethno-ecology. The idea that our direct involvement in harvesting and care taking the lands around us could result in healthier forest and more abundant edible and medicinal plants transformed our views of ethical wildcrafting.
Donâ€™t get me wrong. I adore cinnamon (shipped to me via UPS) and I love every moment spent in my garden. However, the longer we stay confined within our own personal piece of property the quicker we lose the diverse ecosystems found beyond our immediate sight.
Often times I hear ethical wildcrafting described as taking a small percentage of plants found in the wild and picking up garbage on your way out. This may be adequate but, as herbalists, we have the ability to make changes far more radical than minimal impact on plants and fewer beer cans found along the trails. Indeed, we can actively cultivate our wild spaces to increase bio-diversity and the overall health of ecosystems.
Besides increasing the health of the lands around us by actively tending the area by pruning, thinning, digging and aerating we can also become the watchdog of these areas. We can do our best to protect it from harm, alert authorities to illegal use of off road vehicles, publicly question the use of dangerous herbicides, and protect sensitive areas such as wetlands from commercial development.
An example of this is one of my favorite edible plants: yellow bells, or Fritillaria pudica. Also called 159
By visiting our gathering areas regularly we can become aware of the needs of the plants we rely on and we can form a deep connection with them. Because, really, the best people to protect the land are the ones who have a deep connection to it. Otherwise, the latest clearcut or strip mall development is another news clip we hear in the background as we are opening our freshly delivered box of herbs from UPS.
to form a strong sense of place, to really know my surroundings.
How Do We Tend The Wild?
Another step in this process is to intimately know the plants you are harvesting. Know their growth cycle, their methods of reproduction, what they look like when they are healthy and what they look like when they are not. I recently took a class with Howie Brounstein in which he said he has an hour and a half lecture just on the ethical wildcrafting of oregon grape root. Thatâ€™s right, an hour and a half to learn how to harvest a single plant.
I believe that it is through the art of awareness and the art of listening to the earth that we will rediscover the art of tending the wild. Because tending the wild is less about our own agenda and more about knowing how to listen to the area to know what needs to be done.
One of the most important discussions herbalists or even wild food enthusiasts can have is how do we cultivate our own wild gardens through the process of wildcrafting? Good question. Like so many of the ancient ways, we have lost a lot of this information. However, by using our intellect and awareness we can undoubtedly rediscover these ways. While I certainly donâ€™t have all the answers I will share what has helped me so far.
Besides intimately knowing the plants we want to harvest we need to know the habitat they grow in. What is the ecosystem? What plants are native? Which arenâ€™t? What animals pass through here? What humans pass through here? What did this land look like 10 years ago? 50 years ago? 200 years ago? How does this land thrive? Answers to these questions will be different in every eco-system. In my neck of the woods, downed trees and branches can fill a forest, inviting severe forest fires. On the western side of the mountains, downed trees can become nurse logs, revitalizing and nourishing the land where they fall. While both of these scenarios are forests, care-taking them involves different methods.
One of the most important tools I have come across for relearning to walk with presence and awareness on the earth is the Kamana program by the Wilderness Awareness School. When I started the introductory program I was a city girl who had been surrounded by four white walls and concrete for most of my life. The only interactions I had experienced in the outside world were limited to the occasional car camping and trail hiking. For me, the Kamana program is like an inspiring field guide to being a member on this earth. It teaches awareness of surroundings, the language of birds, how to walk, how to listen and how to engage with the outside world every day. It taught me how
I keep extensive records of areas where I am harvesting from. This helps me to remember the naturally changing landscape (like how things 160
change from year to year) as well as to be conscious of how my actions are effecting the area (for better or for worse). I have a full listing of my recordkeeping sheets available as part of my 6-part wildcrafting article at HerbMentor.com.
We recently led a plant walk which was attended by our fish and game warden. We discussed a lot of the same ideas expressed in this article and honestly weren’t quite sure how he was going to react to our rousing cry for more wildcrafting. After the walk we chatted with him and found that we agreed on most things. He told us that people often get confused about conservation and preservation. Many people in the environmental movement want to preserve the lands. Preservation is the act of keeping something unaltered or unchanged. I am probably not the first to tell you that nature is constantly changing. This need to preserve things unchanged is a cultural story, one I think has evolved from only seeing the destruction humans can do. I hope this article has shown that there are different ways of being on this earth.
We also have a lot of experts in our midst who can surely answer questions and provide their personal experiences for our learning. Our own Jesse Wolf Hardin is a prime example of someone who tended a ravaged piece of land and then nurtured it back to health. People with this kind of knowledge can be encouraged to speak at our herbal conferences and write articles for our herbal community, helping us learn new ways of interacting with the land around us. Some of you may be thinking, “What about those who don’t have access to wild lands?” A lot of these principles can be applied to ecosystems within cities such as parks. Tending these green areas is important too! In Seattle there was a successful movement to ban herbicides and pesticides from city parks, especially those with playgrounds for kids. By banning harmful chemicals and introducing medicinal and edible plants to city parks, we can create our own urban jungles to tend to.
Once you’ve gained some knowledge about tending the wild such as sustainable harvesting methods, healthy ecosystems, etc, I encourage you to go out and experiment on small scales. Mark off a piece of land that you want to caretake. It doesn’t have to be big. Start with one tree even. Record your efforts. What did the land look like before? What is your vision? What is your process? What were the results? Take photos. Share with others.
Even if you do have access to wild lands it may be illegal to wildcraft on public or federal land. It’s important to know what land you are on and what the laws are (and, depending on your actions, what the consequences are for disobeying those laws). In our area, affordable permits are offered for those harvesting on a small scale.
My husband and I are currently working on our own experiments with tending the wild. I look forward to sharing our stories. Envisioning Our Roles As Herbalists For some people, herbalism may simply be the study of medicinal plants. But I believe that we, as ardent plant lovers, have the ability to raise an army to swarm back into our wild places, reclaim our heritage as active members in partnership with the earth, and restore the vitality there.
Another resource are the people employed in stewarding these lands (US Forest Service, BLM, park rangers, etc.). These people undoubtedly have diverse opinions on land management. Seek out those who also see the benefits of tending areas and open the conversation (cautiously).
Most of the current conversations I hear around wildcrafting these days are focused on the fear of 161
over-harvesting. I would love to see this be only a portion of the conversation and increased focus on the active care-taking of our forests, meadows, riverbanks, plains and deserts. How do we, as herbalists, tend the wild? How can we actively engage in our surroundings to increase the health of the area as whole?
around us; beauty that touches our soul and reminds us of the magic and sacredness of life.
In my world, wildcrafting is one of the most sacred rites of humans. I believe that not only do we have the right to wildcraft but we also have the responsibility to do so; responsibility to actively engage in the lands around us, to promote their health and diversity, to reclaim our human role of partnership with this earth.
It is my hope that herbalists channel this gratitude into fiercely protecting and revitalizing this beautiful planet we call home.
And when weâ€™ve come home, processed our precious plants and then used them as medicine we also experience deep gratitude to the world we are a part of.
But setting aside responsibility for a moment, we can also appreciate that we wildcraft for the joy of it. Moving through the forest and prowling the forest floor for food and medicine can remind us what it is to be a human on this earth. We are inspired to interact more deeply with the earth to really involve our senses. Foraging through the forest floor we get dirty, hot, cold, wet, we lose our breath, both at the exertion of harvesting roots and at the beauty
Further Resources: Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources by M. Kat Anderson Keeping It Living: Traditions of Plant Use and Cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America edited by Douglas Deur and Nancy Turner
Buckwheat Groats used to be something stored in buckwheat groats. Finally I tried it... amazing! So far, the darkest, furthest reaches of I’ve found that the breads and the pantry, dragged out only to little cakes I make on the skillet Adventures With Buckwheat please the rare visiting are superior in texture to Ukrainian homesick for anything that’s come out of the Text & Photos grandmother’s kasha. I never oven. But feel free to By Loba could have dreamed that one experiment on your own! Our day these pretty little seeds, dear supporter Resolute baked with their subtle hues of sunset and ivory, would the dough I’m about to teach you in muffin pans become one of my most and was very happy with the beloved and well-used pantry results. ingredients! These days, we can easily eat up 20 or 30 Buckwheat, as many of you pounds a month! know, is not a cereal grain but a fruit seed related to dock. It Searching for the perfect tastes very much like a grain, gluten-free bread has been and although it has no gluten it somewhat of an obsession of is very mucilaginous which mine for the past several years, helps make it cohesive and ever since we figured out that buoyant when soaked and Kiva and Rhiannon are both ground into flour. gluten-intolerant. And it bothers me to spend a lot per Most of our experiences with pound on expensive pre-mixed buckwheat in this country are gluten-free flour when there limited to buckwheat pancakes are so many other tasty made with pre-ground alternatives. I’ve experimented buckwheat flour. There are with all kinds of different some yummy things that can combinations of gluten-free be made with this flour, and lower gluten grains--oat especially when it’s bought at a flour and nut flours, cornmeal, store with good turnover, and I coconut and chickpea flours, keep it on hand for a few wellbuckwheat flour and flax meal. I’d soaked and loved recipes. But mostly it’s back-up for when I sprouted kamut, rye, and spelt berries and made forget to soak my groats, because the texture, flavor, breads with such good results, Kiva and I wondered and even the color are so very, very different. It does how it would work to make bread with soaked make me wonder what in the world they might do
With this issue we present both an extensive Plant in 1965. Founder of the Wise Woman tradition that Healer interview with Susun, and the first has since been spread wide and far by her installment of her new column of graduated apprentices. High unpublished writings, Wise Priestess of Dianic Wicca and self Introducing Our New PH Woman Ways: Susun Weed’s described Green Witch, plus self Columnist Medicine Wheel. Our hope is to published author of 5 extremely Susun Weed provide the venue for her to share well received books. The first of what she hasn’t shared elsewhere these, Healing Wise, was (along by the Editors before, to provide even our most with Michael Moore’s, knowledgable practitioner readers incidentally) also one of the first with valuable insights and tools beyond what they herbal books that either Kiva or I found compelling know from the books they have read of hers and the enough to read “back in the day”... as each of us in previous talks they may have attended. These pages our own time fed our journey into this healing are, after all, a place to work. It made her more stretch and to be stretched, intriguing to me, not less, to share the depths, push that she has a reputation the envelope, express the as an intense teacher who controversial, and still elicits intense responses. secure enough within this circle to be vulnerable and Admittedly, here are a few imperfect. key definitions and approaches that we do not And it is with her casting happen to share with her. of a circle of a sacred Rather than tailoring our space, that her column offerings primarily for begins. women as she chooses to, we’re trying to reach and The majority of this serve both genders with community either knows, our Anima courses, or knows of Susun, given conference and magazine, how long she’s been doing this: A High School and do so even though women herbalists are may dropout who – unlike so many others – didn’t wish always be the majority. We are exceedingly cautious to be an herbalist from early on, but who later felt when it comes to translating the wishes and led to the plants and their gifts. Develops her messages of the plants, even as we teach the appreciation for herbs and “weeds” in particular importance of exchange and communication while in Manhattan and actively launches her study between us the green beings we work with.
Plant Healer Magazine: You choose to work almost entirely with women.
If you don't get yourselves licensed, we're going to come in and do it. So the midwives got together and, state by state, did certification and licensure Susun Weed programs and then the central Herbalist government used that as an in dialog with Jesse Wolf Hardin excuse to shut them down everywhere.
Weed: I do. I feel more comfortable working with women and I understand women better. And I still believe that the healthcare system is leveraged against women. I focus on women because I really feel that women are underserved in the medical community.
Plant Healer Magazine: Yes they did, didn't they? Made outlaws out of midwives.
Plant Healer Magazine: Where is it that modern medicine fails us most?
Weed: And they could be controlled, because they knew who every single one of them was.
Weed: Primary care, and this is why I've devoted my career to promoting herbal medicine as people's medicine... and why I have thrown myself bodily across the tracks to prevent any kind of licensure of any kind ever in the United States.
I thank them with no irony at all for giving me an example to say to herbalists this is what happens if you fall to that line. Did you know that on the National Massage Board of the United States not a single massage therapist sits? The governing body for all massage therapists in the United States does not have a single massage therapist on it.
Plant Healer Magazine: Some quite reasonable people make the argument that licensing or registration go hand in hand with certification and disarming the critics, making it less likely that there will be complete prohibition of self-healing and selftreatment. Weed: Bull-shit! I often thank the midwives. I say thank you so much for making a mess of midwifery so I can point to you and say to the apprentices “you see what happens?” That was a line that the midwives were fed was, if you don't get yourselves all certified, then we're going to come in and do it.
Bureaucracy! We have to be willing to take care of ourselves. Unfortunately, a great number of people think it's too complicated to take care of themselves, and that's one of the reasons why I have always kept my teachings geared toward beginners, geared towards people who are entering herbal medicine. I am, of course, pure friends with a great number of healthcare professionals, but I don't find my calling there. I find my calling in reminding people that this is simple, safe herbal medicine which is available to all of us.
“We must take our children into the wild, introduce them they grow to all the possibilities plants offer us. Let to the plants, and teach them of their connection to the them learn for themselves. Teach them to trust their earth. In instilling in our children a instincts. This doesn’t mean to let respect for plant medicine, we not only them eat anything, especially when it How To Teach Kids care for their tender bodies but help pass comes to fungi, however, when To Use Herbs along the seeds of a tradition that is as old teaching them the difference between Part I as human life itself.” poke and elderberry, or hemlock and Photos and Text " – Rosemary Gladstar queen anne’s lace, teach them respect by Kristine Brown of the plant and reverence for the medicine each plant offers whether it Kids are the Future, Teach Them Well is mild (chickweed, lemon balm, plantain) or overly strong (foxglove, hemlock, “Children are one third of our etc.). Time will teach the population and all of our appropriate use and future.” application of each variance. " -Select Panel for Promotion of Child Health Giving a good herbal foundation will stay with Children are the best children for their lifetime. students when it comes to Knowledge is power and plants. They have no empowering. Even though prejudice against any of the majority will not choose them (except for what we this calling as their lifework, teach them), no they will have a solid preconceived notions of foundation of herbal how a plant should work or knowledge which will stay how its medicine should with them for their life and heal. Just as we can accept they will one day be able to an orange has lots of pass the information along vitamin C, a banana is high to their friends, family, in potassium and beans community and children of contain protein, they can their own. They will have accept that peppermint is the ability to take control of soothing to the stomach and their own health and teach comfrey can heal wounds others to do the same. There and scars. And why not? is nothing more They are all plants after all. Certainly if garden empowering than knowing you have the ability to ‘vegetables’ can be nutritious and keep us healthy, take charge of your own healthcare. so can herbs, weeds and other plants. As adults we tend to be narrow minded when it comes to our Follow the Golden Rules of Wild Crafting food sources but if we allow ourselves to open up, we can realize that this wonderful world we live on “Long before people bought medicine or food at a store, has given us an abundance of nutrition and healing they learned to use the wild plants growing all around through the plants and didn’t just reserve it for a them. They watched animals to see which plants were select few. All plants have importance and value. We good to eat and which plants were poisonous. They herbalists, scientists and the like just have yet to experimented and learned which plants could heal people discover them all. when they were hurt or sick. People passed their knowledge on to their children and grandchildren for Nurture this attribute in children and reserve your generations.” opinions. Encourage them to keep an open mind as -Ellen Evert Hopman, Walking the World of Wonder
Introducing the first in a series of excerpts from the romantic historical novel for herbalists, The Medicine Bear by your Plant Healer coeditor. As discussed in this issue’s Healing Journey’s column, we each need a personal story that is as authentic as it is meaningful. Fictionalizing our story to make ourselves appear more interesting or to fit in, can detract from our true gifts, challenges, experiences and skills. Where a manufactured story is of most use, is in acknowledged fiction, when it offers inspiring examples of the quest for authenticity in our lives and expression, for purpose and perseverance, providing us a mythos to subscribe to... and perchance, to live up to. We can readily think of books that mean to do just that, from Tolkein’s trilogy to Pullman’s “His Dark Materials”. Children have the medicine woman and healer focus of Furlong’s “Wise Child”. What has been missing, is a body of adult fiction featuring – and written for – the folk herbalist readers of this world. The Medicine Bear seeks to begin to remedy this deficiency as a historic novel featuring an herbalist as its main character: Omen. While clearly the story of a difficult but undying romance, it is at its core a plant-filled tale about the healing of wounds... and an irrepressible love of life.
The story you are about to read takes place in the wild Gila bioregion of SW New Mexico, volcanically created mountain range reaching from cactus and mullein laden valleys to aspen clad peaks, featuring even today a diversity of plant and animal wildlife you might never associate with a place with such arid climes. It is here that the conservationist Aldo Leopold had his moment of enlightenment that led to the birth of a modern land ethic, as the amazing bear hunter Ben Lilly did his best to exterminate the region’s cattle threatening grizzlies. It is a story spanning from 1896 to 1966, but occurring mainly in the years leading up to and following 1916, when Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa sent a hundred poorly armed Indian followers to attack Columbus, a border town inside the borders of the United States, considered the most powerful country in the world. The firelight from burning buildings made it so easy for U.S. soldiers with machine guns to hose down Vilistas with Winchesters and bows and arrows or archaic Winchester rifles, in what became a warm up for World War I. Those same fires, also cast a light on the writer and adventurer Eland’s contrary urges to seek adventure and plant roots at home... with Omen Omen knew of a plant for almost every ailment and imbalance. But to make it work together, would take some special medicine. Please enjoy.
The Medicine Bear An Herbal-Hearted Tale Of Healing & Adventure, Purpose & Undying Love Part I â€“ From the upcoming novel by Jesse Wolf Hardin The old man found satisfaction in the assured resumption of their familiar songs: the melodies of canyon wrens, and the crystalline notes of the hermit thrush. The sonatas of summer tanager and orange crowned warbler, and the woodpecker rock and roll, all aural overlays atop a flowing river adagio. Tassle-eared nut chasers arguing over an acorn cache. The commentary of black feathered gossips, bobbing up and down on the springy upper branches of silvered river alders. These were the notes and tunes attending his continuing quest, once leading him through the bloody turf and tome of war, and lately no further than to a certain hallowed grove.
Prologue Sweet Medicine Botanical Sanctuary SW New Mexico, August 1966 At the first sound of his approach, the ravens stopped their croak and squawk, the squirrels their boisterous chatter. And then seeing it was only Eland, they all started up again.
Art by TRannick - Deviant Art
“Never in my life had I felt myself so near that porous line where my own body was done with and the roots and the stems and the flowers began.” -Mary Oliver
by the flowers and trees that grew wherever I settled for a Where My Skin Ends while, by Honeysuckle vines & Flowers Begin clambering up island fences, by Pokeweed’s red stems shooting by Kiva Rose Hardin up next to our Midwestern barn door and by the Lavender fields of the Pacific Northwest. Anywhere I’ve ever even briefly passed through, the At the periphery of all my thoughts are leaves and plants in all their myriad colors and shapes have twigs, tangled together and growing along the been companions and markers along my winding boundaries of my imagination and ideas. The path. twining roots of Alder trees knot themselves into the bower between my waking and sleeping worlds, I recently heard Matthew Wood say something like holding me always here – in the mountain forests “I’m in this for the plants first” meaning that it was and river canyons where the plants thrive and his deep love of interacting with the plants multiply, carpeting my world in a verdant profusion themselves that brought him to herbalism originally of color and scent. more than a desire to practice medicine. I smiled when I heard Matt say that because it’s a sentiment I am infatuated with all things wild, from a single I’ve frequently expressed myself. Facilitating health red-pawed fox drinking from the river, to great dark and well-being in people is incredibly fulfilling for clouds of migrating birds or small groups of human me. I experience a distinct and overwhelming children laughing as they gather golden-brown nuts feeling of satisfaction when I’m able to help from underneath towering Oak trees. The diversity someone feel better through my recommendations of the expressions of life on this planet never fail to or assistance. But I won’t lie, if herbs weren’t intrigue and amaze me but it is the leafed and available and the only avenue of medicine was rooted things that most call to me. The trumpetchemical powders and patented pharmaceutical shaped blossoms of Datura and the creeping red and products, then I’d have to find a different way of green glimmer of Purslane serve as a beacon for my helping people. It’s imperative to my own happiness eyes and I often find myself on hands and knees to and effectiveness that my work as a healthcare see them more closely before I’m even aware that practitioner also provide a direct connection back to I’m moving. the natural world for myself. My first memories as a toddler are of plants, of Yarrow and Peppergrass thriving in my front yard. My nomadic history is marked from childhood on
The herbs themselves are a primary part of what draws me to botanical medicine, and what compels me to find ways of matching plant to person in this 124
Awesome Princess Mononoke inspired art (she has a Wolf, too!) by Noukah - go to: www.Noukah.com
complex and ancient dance we call herbalism. Plants are what initially attracted me to this field and they are the nourishment and inspiration that keep me excited and involved in it. Whether intently keying out some new species of wildflower, digging wild ro o t s , formulating medicines for clients or laying flat on my back in a especially sweet patch of Melilotus, I am always searching out direct engagement with the green world that provides me with so much sustenance and solace.
and community through place is of primary importance. We are made more fully ourselves by our relationship to the natural world, including the other animals, bacteria and plants we share our bioregions with. So much of healing is entirely about relationship. Relationship between a person and their body, between person and place, between person and plant. I am endlessly fascinated by all the ways in which humans and plants interact, both historically and in the present moment, across all cultures and geographies. We humans have evolved in every way to live with and be dependent on the plants. The kingdom of Plantae flourished long before our genesis as a species and will likely continue after we recede from the landscapes of this planet. Which only serves to make me that much more grateful for the beauty and breath they bring to our every
A portion of what I attempt to impart to clients and students is a deepened awareness of the natural world, and especially of the ways in which working with the plants can grant us a sense of at-homeness and belonging. In a culture where so many of us feel displaced this reconnection to food, medicine, self 125
moment. Each time I touch the soft weave of a cotton dress, hear the wind roar around the walls of our cozy wooden cabin or take a sip of the tea blended from the wild herbs near my home I am reminded in a visceral, immediate way of how intertwined my life is with these green, sun-eating creatures I so adore.
I gladly give the majority of each and every day to activities that are directly concerned with plants, nearly all related to teaching and practicing of herbal medicine. This magazine is yet another expression of my passion for bringing together plants and people, of sharing my excitement with each of you reading this journal my partner, Wolf, and I have devoted ourselves to. Creating community from a shared love of the earth has become a vital element of our work, and the bringing together of plant people continues to delight me on every level. Every morning I wake up knowing that I couldnâ€™t imagine a better or more fulfilling life than this daily immersion in the diverse world of rooted wild things.
My obsession with all things plant-related extends beyond herbalism into botany, ecology, naturalism, wildcrafting, gardening and just about anything else that bring me closer to the plants, especially living plants in their chosen habitat. Nothing is so likely to fascinate and fully envelope me as crawling through the forest understory, breathing in the scent of life turning to death, turning to life in the shape of leaves falling, rotting only to unfurl from warm soil yet again. Down in the dirt, I look for every tiny flower, for each previously unnoticed tendril or bud. I want to know the texture of every sepal, the scent of flowers through their stages of blooming, the names of not only each plant but every plant part. The need to experience, witness and understand plant life is a driving force in nearly all that I do.
Even at night the plants dominate my thoughts as I dream of vines that wind toward far away stars and luminescent flowers whose form Iâ€™ve never found in any of my many books on botany. I lay my head against the ground and listen to the pulse and mutter of roots all through my long hours of sleep. In the worlds of both slumber and waking, the plants are singing to me. Not so much in words or audible melodies, but in the rhythm of my own blood where it surges toward the surface of my skin when I reach for an unfamiliar spray of leaves, when I breathe in the sun-warmed scent of crushed Juniper berries. Where my skin ends and flowers begin. -Kiva
Plant Healer Books Plant Healer and Sweet Medicine Press are pleased to present a series of perfect bound books for your information and reading pleasure, beginning with the first Plant Healer Annual, & The Art of Plant Healer.
The Plant Healer Annual - Vol. I An over 700 page long physical hard-copy book featuring full length versions of every article, piece of art and photos from the magazineâ€™s first year, 2010/2011: Sold To Subscribers Only: $39 ea. (plus $15 Priority Shipping) To order yours, go to the website and Login to your personal Member Page: www.PlantHealerMagazine Then click on Plant Healer Annual
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The Art of Plant Healer (Book) a perfect bound volume featuring 60 full page sized illustrations from the first year of the magazine, with paintings, drawings and sculptures by Joanna Powell Colbert, Lauren Raine, Rebecca Altman, Madeline von Foerster and Holly Sierra, plus art as well as posters and text designed and written by Plant Healerâ€™s Jesse Wolf Hardin. The 8.5x11â€? pages can be carefully removed for framing and hanging, so you may want 2 copies... one for dismembering and displaying, the other to keep whole. Special Subscriber Discount: $25 ea. (plus $6 Priority Shipping) To order a copy now, Login to your Member Page and click on The Art Of Plant Healer
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