Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year, New Direction

Happy New Year!!
I am very hopeful about this year! So many amazing things grew out of 2016. It was hard but there were changes I never would have expected. I grew spiritually into places I never thought I would venture into again. Faced my own judgements. Saw my shadows for what they are. I am stronger for it.

This picture drawn by my wonderful mentor, Cindy Ella Rhodes Durkee, resonates so deeply with my journey of faith this year. You can find more work from her here: The Christ Within
But 2017 I am dedicating myself to working on my physical side. I served in the USCG with flat feet. I signed a waiver to get in with them. During boot camp I had several stress fractures in my legs and feet. My feet have bothered me ever since. When I was grooming dogs a few years ago it got so bad I went to a podiatrist. He showed me X-rays and he was shocked at the "uniqueness" of my feet internally. His exact words were, "I don't even know why there is bone here." I have fallen into the bad pattern of "my feet hurt so I don't want to move, I don't move so I gain weight". It hit me hard this Christmas when my feet were hurting so much some nights I could hardly walk and my mom asked me (in a concerned, thoughtful way) if I thought my grandma's old walker would help me. I am 36. 
36 and in bad shape. It hit me HARD that if I don't loose the extra weight I may not be able to even walk in 10 years. That scares me. I already have a hard time on our hikes. What if I can never go on them again? What is searching for hidden plants in the forest is no longer something I can do. It would crush me. Really CRUSH me! If things are going to change I have to be strong and push myself harder than I have before. Take better care of my own "house" and remember that what I do now will always show up in the future. Yoga, the right foods for my needs, walking more, prayer, study.....these are all the focuses of this year for me.

My feet might not be normal but they are good!
 I thought long and hard about publishing this. I know there are a lot of "resolution: weight loss" posts but for me this is different. This is almost life and death for me. I want to share my struggles as well as my joys. And this is my struggle.

Along with sharing my struggle I want to share a ton more joy!! So this year I am also planning more herby goodness than last year. At least once a month but hopefully much more!! So stay tuned! I am going to work some alchemical work on my house this year!! THE ENTIRE THING!! 


Wild Cherry

In So Much Gratitude!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Solsticing with St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort (Hypericum spp.)

Making oil of the Herb of Light
Anyone who knows me knows my biggest plant ally is St. John's Wort! I still remember the first time I really met this plant. I was on a plant walk with my class at Appalachia School for Holistic Herbalism. There in the middle of the trail was this plant saying, "Look at me all sunny and shiny!" Our teacher, Mateo, taught us how when you crush the flowers and leaves it will stain your hands red.

The unopened flower buds have a ton of red juice in them!
Using the doctrine of signatures, when a plant looks like what it is good for, that staining shows us it may be used to treat bleeding and the blood. The pin hole dots on the leaves and flowers also signify the treatment of wounds. It is well known for this powerful healing of cuts, scraps, bites, and bruises. 

This leaf really looks like a bruise.
Here you can see the tiny pin holes in the leaves.
Lots of people use it for treatment of depression and SAD but I have found it is good for most nervous system issues. The beautiful, ruby red oil is excellent as a massage oil for pain and nerve damage. According to Matthew Wood in his book, The Book of Herbal Wisdom, William Boericke, a physician that lived from 1849 to 1929, said that a heavy use of Hypericum in surgery can make morphine unnecessary.  But use with caution especially if you are on other medications. It is a powerful liver detoxifier, which can cause many medications to not work properly as it flushes the pharma right out of your system. However topically I have not seen a problem since it is not metabolized by the liver, but always use your own intuition and best judgement for you! 

I made this tincture last night and within minutes the alcohol was pulling the redness out of the pores of the leaves.
 The red staining is supposed to represent the blood of Saint John the Baptist, which is how it got it's name. Anne McIntyre calls it "heart of Jesus oil" and I completely see that connection as this is a very sunny plant and in my opinion can help us see the Light, Christ consciousness, Baldur's light, etc. There is no way you can look at this plant in bloom and not be happy. It looks like sunshine and stars and fireworks. It smells sweet and almost like warm honey. One of it's nicknames is Sol Terrestris, Earthly Sun. How beautiful is that!!

This tiny Sunshiny Spider blessed my oils a few years ago.
  Rosemary Gladstar says our nervous system is our direct interface with the Universe. I feel like St. J's can be a powerful bridge of reconnection, which seems to be something we lack so much in the modern era we live. I feel St. John's Wort's message is to see the Sun/Son in every face you meet! Cast light on the shadows and they will melt away in the warmth of Spirit.

This is finished Plantain and St. John's Wort oils. The red of St. J's oil is so beautiful!!
 The Summer Solstice is St. J's special harvest time. It is said to be most potent on this date. I always try to harvest now but usually life has other plans. Luck for me it blooms all summer long!! This plant's Sun ties don't end with flower shape and harvest time. It also needs the Sun to warm it while making the oil. It will go from green olive oil to the most beautiful shade of red with the Sun's energy. It is an amazing, almost alchemical action! So I celebrate the Sun and the harvest of the Herb of Light!

Our harvest yesterday was a very good one!!
Xavier Rudd ~ Follow the Sun

***The information on this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness. Please seek advice from a qualified health practitioner you trust before using especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a serious medical condition, or are currently taking any medications.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Expanding Vision with Rue

Five petals on the first flowers of Rue
Rue (Ruta graveolens) has been speaking to me all spring. Telling me all about how to heal and how to grow. As care taker of my garden she should definitely know about helping things grow and keeping those nagging pests like negative thoughts and beetles away!

The next bunch of flowers around the first flower have 4 petals instead of 5
Scott Cunningham describes this plant as masculine in energy and that very well could have something to do with how it reacts medicinally in an herbal medicine tradition. However I see this plant in particular as having a female energy. She is feminine and lacy while at the same time very strong. Rue reminds me of Mother Mary in that she is doesn't take center stage with showy blooms but nurtures the rest of the garden so they can shine and strongly supports them. It is even said that adding some of her leaves to compost will help it break down faster to provide yummy nutrients to your soil even quicker.

My Rue plant as a wee baby
Rue has been grown in gardens for a very long time due to its strong medicinal healing properties. It has been used for headaches, earaches, wounds, bruises, sprains, arthritis, relaxes smooth muscles, helps with women's trouble from delayed menstruation to use as a nervine during menopause, and to keep eyes sharp and clear. It was used by a lot of painters for this very purpose.

Rue Flower Essence
While I was making this flower essence of Rue, she showed me that she is not only good for the physical eyes but also for spiritual sight as well. She will open you up to see everything not just all the things you have to do, all the busy-ness our modern life has for us, but to see past the masks we wear and the mundane day-to-day that keeps us "too busy" to see, to talk to Spirit, and do the work we were sent here to really do. Rue shows us how to let our brains and hearts work together and with tons of compassion and understanding all while feeling protected and supported. She is also known as the Herb of Grace.....she works with ease and grace.

Herb of Grace
 While meditating with Rue, she shared this with me...

Meditation with Rue 
Breathe deep,
Deep down where your belly wisdom resides.
To your instinctual needs,
Food, air, water, sleep, safety.
Do you have enough of all of these things? 
If so you have no worries.
No need to think of the next thing you have to do.
So move deeper.
Expand your vision to the nearest person.
Really see their worries, fears, frustration, anger, happiness, and joy.
See how they are just like you.
Even if you don't know them.
Even if you don't like them.
Reach out with your vision and hug them.
Heart to Heart
Being to Being
Self to Self
Spirit to Spirit
We are all part of the same big Greatness.
The Great Spirit
The Universe
Feel yourself being filled by the unending LOVE of that Greatness.
Feel that same feeling for your neighbor.
And keep going
Keep Spreading
Keep expanding
See how everything is connected.
Animals, plants, rocks, air, humans
Would we let someone we love starve?
Would we throw trash on someone we love? 
Look at the whole world as part of you.
See it with love and compassion.
Bring all beings out of the darkness,
By lighting the way with your heart.
Expand their vision with your light until they can see their own.
Shine brightly. 

 *Not for pregnant women or women who are trying to get pregnant. And not recommended in high doses.
***The information on or about any of my products is for educational purposes only and has not been tested by the FDA. It is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness. Please seek advice from a qualified health practitioner you trust before using especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a serious medical condition, or are currently taking any medications.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Finding Our Roots

I took some time off from everything while we were in the big city. I felt oppressed and fearful there and it was hard to find inspiration and even a desire to come out of my hidy hole to play and chat with my plant family. Then we had an opportunity fall right in our laps which placed us right back in the mountains of NC that we LOVE so very much! We are laying down roots so we have called our new house Root House! 

My youngest introducing Root House <3
I am still a bit overwhelmed with homeschooling our kids and trying to find time to dive head first into every topic that interests me (there are a lot of them), but I have been finding time where I can to go out and play. This weekend we went hiking and had so much fun creek stomping and digging roots! 

I set out for the hike with the intention of finding Yellow Root (Xanthorhiza simplicissima) and Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). I had almost used up all my Yellow Root tincture I had made a few years ago and needed to make some more. I didn't need any Bloodroot but to see her leaves or beautiful flowers is magical! We found both!!

Yellow Root (Xanthorhiza simplicissima)
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

 And a few more lovelies.... 

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea)

Wakerobin (Trillium erectum)

Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus floridus)
American Mandrake or Mayapple (Podophyllum)

Some that I had never seen before. 

Dog Hobble (Leucothoe)
Blue Star (Amsonia tabernaemontana)

Crested Dwarf Iris (Iris cristata)
 I came home and prepared the Yellow Root for tincturing! 

It was such a wonderful day!! I am so grateful we have found our forever home! 
Until next time, wishing you as much beautiful sunshine in your life as this Yellow Root holds!! 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cold and Flu Season for the Kiddos and You!

It is almost that time of year mamas and papas! Usually once the kids go back to school it isn't long until they start sharing things. Nasty things.....GERMS!! Don't panic though. There are some natural things you can do to boost up their little bodies so they are better protected and to take care of them at home if they do get a bug. 

1. Stay away from too much sugar. 
I know I sound like an evil person especially with Halloween right around the corner, but how many of us have had kids get sick right after a big holiday like Halloween or Christmas when they have had extra yummies. It really slows down the immune system. Not just candy and junk food but juice is another thing to limit or eliminate.

2. Try to introduce some good bacteria.
The gut health of our country isn't very good as a whole. It can be blamed on any number of things from the chemicals in our water, our over use of anti-bacterial EVERYTHING, our over use of antibiotics not only in our own bodies but in the animals products we consume, and all the toxins that float around in our environments. Our gut health is linked to all the systems in our body. If your digestion is out of wack more than likely so is your health and your kids. There are things we can do to help though! Yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, real sauerkraut...... All these things help to boost them up over time. Some can be a hard sell for little ones, especially those that are used to chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. Try to make it fun and play around with it! We just had miso soup with our lunch today and my middle child did not appreciate the goodness of the miso! However we played around with it and she found it made an excellent gravy for her mashed potatoes! 

3. Boost there vitamin C with Rose Hips and Hibiscus.
Did you think I was going to say orange juice? Orange juice is delicious but save it for a special occasion. OJ is a strong refrigerant and that is not some good when you are in the middle of winter. Not to mention all the sugar! If you make a tea with Rose Hips and/or Hibiscus you are giving them a super boost of vitamin C, even more than what is found in citrus! And you control the sweetness!! It's a win win!

4. Elderberry Syrup has sweetness that packs a punch against the flu.

Elderberry Syrup
Elder Flowers

Elder is a plant with a two part punch actually. The berries can be a delicious medicine to boost the immune system and the flowers are a fever aid if you do catch something, helping the fever to do it's job better by making you sweat. Elder berries have been shown in some studies (here's another) to prevent flu or at least limit the days you feel like poo. Both the flowers and the berries taste great so they are an easy sell to the kiddos! Here is a recipe for Elderberry syrup:

1/2 cup dried Elderberries
3 cups water
simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes until it has reduced by 1/2
then add 1 cup of honey

Easy right? You can add other goodies too it like Rose Hips, Cinnamon, or Hawthorn berries. ***Just a note that if you do add Rose Hips it will thicken up more.

5. Catnip is one of my favorite herbs for children in pain or with a fever.
Catnip isn't just for cats around my house. It is a nervine and a gentle sedative with more of those fever helpers, diaphoretics, like in Elder flowers. It is really useful for sickness in children because it helps them rest when they have a fever and need to be in bed. How many of us parents have had a child with a fever who just refuses to lie down and take it easy. My kids think it is time to prove they are tough by jumping on the couch and doing laps in the living room! This is also a very safe plant that can be used in babies to soothe teething pain.

6. Slippery Elm and Marshmallow for sore throats.
When your little one has a sore throat (especially strep) there isn't much you can do to make them feel better it seems. Both of these amazing herbs have mucilaginous properties that soothe irritation and inflammation. Not to mention they are nutritive to give them a little nutrition with the liquid since they aren't often up for eating much. Slippery Elm is a little more like the slim on okra in consistency (yuck) but I have found adding some cinnamon and honey it tastes like a yummy graham cracker!

7. Don't forget to keep Garlic and Ginger around.

Old picture of a batch of fire cider, ginger honey, and garlic honey
These two are so useful to have around! Garlic can be thrown in anything for a little goodness but one of my favorite ways to use it is in honey. It is a little weird with the sweet and savory mixture but one spoonful is very powerful. I learned this from Susun Weed here. I will advise that you "burp" the jar daily or it may blow it's top though! Garlic oil can be used to treat ear infections too! 
Fresh Ginger can also be added to honey too but it is so juicy it needs to be kept in the fridge or you will end up with mead. It is a great go to for upset stomachs, diarrhea, and any case of the ickies. You can add it to chamomile tea as a tummy soother or put it in one of those tiny medicine cups, because teaching kids medicine doesn't always have to taste bad is a good thing!
Don't forget you can combine then in fire cider if your kids like spicy things or just make it for yourself. Here is my spin on it!

There are so many things that can be done to help our little ones at home and prevent them having to go to the doctors to pick up another germ. However there are times when that is necessary. I always try to give our nurse a call to check in and see what they think. I like to think they appreciate me not running in for every little thing. I hope our doctor here in the BIG CITY will do the same. 

What are some things you do to keep yourself or your kids or kids you care about safe during cold and flu season? Do you have any home remedies for if the case of the ickies hits?

Tree Love from Georgia <3 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Herbalist in the Big City

Recently, we had a very sudden move out of state and to a very big city. It was a very complicated situation but very necessary for our family. We had to say goodbye to all our friends and family so quickly. I also had to leave behind my wonderful gardens. I hope that who ever moves in will love them just as much as we did. I was able to take quite a few of them with me. A couple didn't make the transition and so I left because I felt like they would be happier there. It was such a whirlwind! I didn't have time to think until we got here and got unpacked a little. Then everything started to sink in.

The beautiful Lemon Bergamot I had to leave behind.

All of the plants that made the transition. I was doing a little blessing for them.
It has taken me some time to adjust to all the traffic, sirens, pollution warnings, and the cockroaches left by the previous tenants, but I am getting there slowly. More and more I am refocusing on the positives to living here and adapting to life in the big city.

Traffic on a light day and our itty bitty front yard.

Our oasis of happiness!
We have an itty bitty front yard with tons of traffic. However, we have been blessed with an lovely green oasis from the city in the back yard. We still hear the cars, but we have a few hawks in the area, a lovely family of bunnies, some adorable chipmunks, and tons of birds! Not to mention the weeds that are loving the space, like the abundance of Kudzu, Plantain, and Violets all mixed together with some Poke weed, wild berries. There are also tons of national and state parks so close to us all in the foot hills of the mountains. I am finding my footing.



Our plan is to head out of the city and toward those parks and the mountains come next year when our lease is up. I will use this year to reflect on my own health while focusing on my school, East West School of Planetary Herbology, and the education of my children. This year will be a growing lesson for me one definitely taught by the Coyote. How to find my peace, my health in a chaotic and crazy place!