Plant Spirit Communication

These holy days of honoring our ancestors always make me a little sad. I have lost a lot of loved ones (two and four legged) and my altar usually overflows with pictures and names of friends and family that have passed over. I am in San Diego this year so my altar is small and sparse, with only my medicine bag, some gemstones, and a few oils and elixirs I like to travel with. Although I can’t honor them the way I normally do, I still thank them for all the wisdom and love they have given me.

In Chinese medicine, many aromatic plants have the ability to “open orifices.” This means that they can expand our consciousness and open our heart and mind to new thoughts and experiences. Aromatic plants also transform dampness, which can bring us more clarity of thought and action. While the opening and transformative powers of aromatic plants help connect us to our own spirit, they can also help with communicating with our ancestors and other spirits as well.

There are a few aromatic plants I call upon when I want to deepen my insights, meditations, and communication with the spirit realm.

Marigold– the aroma of Marigold is the only flower that the dead can smell; opens communication between earthly and spirit realms

Clary Sage– brings clarity of thought and feelings; increases visionary awareness

Rose– transforms all grief and heartache, helps to see the beauty of life

Frankincense– opens chest and lungs, reduces constriction caused by loss and grief

Cinnamon bark– warms and invigorates, strengthens gate of fire, provides grounding for deeper meditation

I hope you find the aromatic plants that call to you and discover all they have to offer.

May you, and your ancestors, be nourished.

For the love of plants,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

How to Make Calendula Salve

Last week I shared a recipe on how to make a calendula infused oil. If you’re ready, we can take this oil and make it into a salve. It’s super easy and fun!

Ingredients:

250 ml Calendula or other Herbal Oil

6-8 ounces beeswax

10 drops Essential oil of choice (optional)

Supplies:

Double Boiler

Wooden spoon

Dark, Glass Jars

Essential Oils

Heat oil and beeswax in a Double Boiler on low heat until beeswax is completely melted.

Test the firmness by placing a tablespoon of mixture in the freezer for 1-2 minutes. For a softer salve, add more oil. For a harder salve, add more beeswax.

Remove salve mixture from heat and add 10 drops essential oil. Stir with wooden spoon.

Immediately pour into dark, glass jars. Put on lids after salve has cooled.

Used on dry, irritated skin, bug bites, or scrapes.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

My Love of Herbal Medicine Making

I love it when my clients say that they make their own medicine or grown their own herbs. I firmly believe that our strongest medicines are the ones we make ourselves. Don’t get me wrong. Part of my business relies on sales of formulas I make and sell, but I am almost giddy when I her that a client wants to make her own tea, tincture, or salve.

I know the strongest medicine is what you make yourself. It’s also not something everyone can or wants to do. It gives me great joy to formulate for people, infuse my magic and love into their blends, and then give them with confidence that the herbs are going to have a profound impact on their lives.

Working with plants has completely changed my life. I am so grateful for their teachings, for their wisdom, for the life they provide us all. I am honored to be a voice for the medicinal herbs, for the wildflowers, and for the trees. There are many online herb schools to choose from. I encourage you to deepen your connection with plants; your life will be forever enriched.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

A Peaceful Journey

May has been one full of dramatic changes. It hasn’t just been the weather, where we have had 80 degree days, thunderstorms, hail and snow all within a couple of weeks. The shifts have also been of heart and soul.

Many of us are coming to grips with the undeniable injustices that are occurring all over the place. These horrific acts have always been happening, but now with the internet we know exactly when they happen and sometimes we even get a live feed.

We want to know what’s happening so we can try to change it. I just don’t know if our psyches are able to assimilate all the information that comes at us in newsfeeds, notifications, and pop-ups.

I know for me it is overwhelming and downright obnoxious. Knowledge is power, but a lot of what we see is not knowledge, but distraction and opinion pieces that look like real news. How are we supposed to know what is important and relevant and what is just written to rile us up.

As I sit here upset with the way things are, I remember that I can help change what I don’t like to see in the world. My place is just to remind others, and myself, that it is our relationship with Nature that will bring about the greatest peace. I just have to find peace within myself and then I will be much more peaceful and loving towards others (easier said than done!).

Here’s my Peaceful Journey Blend that I will be dousing myself with all day today, and probably the next 4 years! Remember, use organic and ethically wild-crafted herbs and essential oils whenever possible! And use those precious essential oils sparingly!!

Peaceful Journey Blend 

3 drops Mt. Shasta Lavender essential oil- relaxes NS, reduces anxiety

3 drops Clary Sage essential oil- brings clarity to thoughts and feelings

2 drops Mandarin essential oil- transforms energy

2 drops Frankincense essential oil- reduces pain and sorrow

Add all essential oils to 1 ounce carrier oil (I Love apricot kernel oil). Mix well. Put in a roll-on bottle and anoint yourself when you need clarity and relaxation.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Wild Humboldt Tea Recipe

Among the old-growth Redwoods of Northern California, my herbal journey began in the late 1990s. Having thousands of acres of ancient forests to explore, my primal self was awakened.  

I wanted to live off the land, eat wild foods, wildcraft herbs and make all my medicine. And so I did that blissfully for years. Then a desire to become an acupuncturist came over me and I completed a four-year master’s degree and passed the licensing boards. I opened a clinic and worked closely with my community to provide much-needed healthcare. Seeing clients and helping people heal themselves is the most rewarding experience, but I knew I had to share the wisdom of herbalism and Chinese medicine with as many people as I could.

And so I left the comfort and shelter of the wilderness to live in Denver, with views of towering downtown buildings instead of majestic forests and Mother Ocean. It is now easier to teach at conferences throughout the US and abroad, and I have the opportunity to work at Colorado School of TCM and Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism.( Not to mention I now actually have consistent, high-speed internet which was hard to get anywhere I lived in Humboldt County, Cali.).

I know it was the right decision because everything has fallen nicely into place since I moved here over a year ago. This year’s teaching schedule is filling in nicely and I have the time to both see a few clients and continue to work on my herb book, “Plant Songs.”

This week I’ll leave you with the tea that made me fall in love with herbalism and our plant allies. It is a delicious and nourishing tea that will leave you feeling more than satisfied. Stay wild!

Recipe: Wild Humboldt Tea (wildcrafted with reverence)

Ingredients:

Handful of fresh nettles

Handful of fresh violet leaves and flower

Handful of fresh plantain leaves

Small amount of fresh dandelion leaves

Small amount of fresh prunella flowers

Instructions:

  1. Infuse all ingredients in the sun in a glass quart jar. 
  2. Infuse one to four hours or overnight on a full or new moon if desired.  
  3. Strain herbs out or be like us herbalists and strain through your teeth or just eat the herbs too.

When energy flows, wellness grows.

Open Up & Let Hawthorn In

Everyone wants to be cracked open. We experiment with drugs and psychedelic substances to blow our mind wider than we even though imaginable. We play football, skydive and speed in our cars for the excitement of the rush. We watch death and destruction as entertainment and participate in violent computer simulations until the domestic violence and world wars of our reality no longer bothers us. We obsessively check our social media status to see if we’re liked, followed and adored. For those addicted or crippled from these activities, they know what they’re doing, yet they can’t stop. We all hear the voice inside our head that says, “stop hurting yourself; you’re better than this; get off the computer and go outside.” It is in the stillness of nature or in those quiet moments between sleeping and waking we hear our truth being whispered back to us.

When I envision a person cracked open it is a red -faced cartoon character with his head blown open like a volcano erupting. He is not necessarily angry, but there is so much pressure (social, financial, marital) that just like a volcano, the only way to release the build up is to explode. Some erupt with anger, others destruct with gambling, drugs, TV, food. It is when we are incapable of digesting one more thing where Hawthorn comes in.

Hawthorn berries relieve stagnation from sluggish digestion, transforming turbid energyhawthorn and reducing plaque in the arteries. The leaves and flowers of hawthorn have long been used as a cardiac tonic, regulating heart beat and reducing pain. Regular ingestion of Hawthorn will strengthen the body’s ability to physically digest fats, while also helping the mind/soul digest unprocessed emotions and stress.

See for yourself. Make an infusion of Hawthorn leaf, flowers and berries to sip after a heavy meal or when you are having trouble digesting something you have seen or heard. Allow Hawthorn to clear the turbid energy from your body. With this clearing, comes the opportunity for the heart to blossom just a little bit more.

With love,

JessicaBakerPic

Jessica

When energy flows, wellness grows

Hawthorn Art by: Robert O’Brien

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Terpenes are found in plants and animals and are responsible for the aromas that we are all so used to smelling. As terpenes have contributed to the evolution of all life on Earth, their therapeutic value  can not be stressed enough.

Close your eyes and think about peeling a fresh juicy orange. Can you smell that familiar orange1citrus aroma? You’re smelling compounds within the large family of terpenes. Do you love the smell of lavender? Terpenes are responsible.  How about the smell of conifers after a refreshing autumn rain? Terpenes again.

These fragrant compounds not only hold many of our childhood memories, but they have contributed to the formation of our limbic, immune, endocannabinoid, and endocrine systems. Our ability to regulate temperature, mood and appetite are all functions of the limbic system. The limbic system is also responsible for olfaction, or smell!

The connection between plants and humans is so ancient we have forgotten who are ancestors are. I encourage you to go out and smell some plants- allow yourself to let your memory take you places you may have forgotten long ago.

More on the limbic system in Thursday’s blog, when we will explore what compounds you smell when you crush up a bunch of lavender, walk past a pine tree, and peel that juicy orange. Together we’re going to have an olfactory buffet!

With love,

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Jessica

Winter Solstice Anointing Oil

Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. It is celebrated as the turning of the wheel and the return of the Sun. We are in rhythm with these holy days and we feel our own energy slowly begin to rise as our yang energy increases with the sun.

This essential oil blend honors the holy season of spiritual rebirth with Frankincense, Myrrh and Hemp and celebrates the return of the sun with Saint John’s Wort. It is divine!

Winter Solstice Blendfrankincense-essential-oil

1 ounce Apricot Kernel Oil

3 drops Frankincense essential oil

3 drops Myrrh essential oil

2 drops Hemp essential oil

2 drops St. John’s Wort essential oil

Add essential oils to Apricot kernel oil, one at a time, blending completely between each addition. Pour into a 1 ounce roll-on bottle. Anoint yourself and your loved ones on the top of the head, temples, chest, and lower back.

Invoke the energy of the sun and give thanks for the warmth, light and life it provides.

With love,

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Jessica

Photo credit: Organic Facts

Reflections on the Mountain West Herb Gathering

IMG_0316I cannot say enough positive things about the Mountain West Herb Gathering.  As with any conference there are bound to be unexpected hiccups but my experience as a teacher and attendant was that it was not only a well organized event but extremely heartfelt as well. I’m already getting excited about next year’s gathering.  Thank you Amanda Klenner for putting on such a welcoming event!  Check out her monthly herbal publication Natural Herbal Living

As someone new to Colorado, I am also happy to have met more local herbalists!  Every class I attended was wonderful, but my favorite had to be Healing the Spirit: Using Plants, Song and Prayer in Modern Herbal Practice, with Shelley Torgove and Monticue Connally.  I am glad they are both in Denver so I can learn more from them.  Deep healing occurred in the space created in their class.  There is nothing like singing with the plants!

IMG_0338My favorite part was to see (hear, taste and feel) new and old plant allies.  The mountain yarrow and horsetail looks so delicate and tender compared to our North Coast varieties.  I have found the mountain plants to be smaller, but packed full of vital energy due to their ability to thrive in such harsh conditions.  And the conifers!  I got to taste and smell the differences in some of the pine, spruce and fir.  The medicine in these mountain plants are strong and give us the gift of resiliency.  So needed at this time.

I leave you with a simple tasty tea that can be easily harvested from many places around the world.  Just make sure the trees and flowers haven’t been sprayed or are close to a heavily trafficked area.

Conifer Rose Tea IMG_0181

1/2 cup needles of your favorite evergreen (pine, spruce, cedar, cypress, fir, redwood)

1/4 cup wild roses

1/4 cup wild blackberry or raspberry flowers

Make a sun infusion with needles and flowers for 2-3 hours.  Strain out herbs and drink deeply.

When energy flows, wellness grows

Happy Summer and Abundant Blessings,

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Jessica

Artemisia: Moon Medicine

I don’t know about y’all, but I am feeling the yang energy of Summer approaching.  Thankfully the warm weather has hit Colorado and life is returning to the mountains after what seemed like a long Winter.  Yesterday I went hiking in Eldorado Canyon and saw many of my favorite herbs, including Artemisia, Pine, Yarrow and Rose.  Coming from California, I am used to a much earlier Spring and I was surprised at how small the Artemisia still are.  I could feel their compact potency though and am excited about seeing them grow throughout the season.

Did you know that we use several Artemisia species in Chinese Medicine?  Each species has it’s unique taste, temperature and therapeutic action. Ai Ye, Artemisia argyi, is so important that it is a separate modality of medicine.  We call the burning of Ai Ye, Moxibustion and we use it to warm the meridians of the body and expel cold, relieve pain due to cold stagnation, dispel dampness, stop cough, and calm the spirit.  If you have PMS or painful menstruation due to cold or damp, moxibustion over the abdomen can provide warmth and relief.  (Always have a qualified practitioner advise you on moxibustion application)

The first mention of Artemisia in Chinese medicine was in the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica), probably written around 200CE.  In that text, Ai Ye, was said to make the body light (bring you back to the light being you are), sharpen your eyes and ears, and prevent senility.  Ai Ye was also said to promote hair growth, eliminate evil qi in the five viscera, boost qi and supplement the middle jiao.

Today, we use the essential oil of various  Artemisia species for many reasons.  The essential oil of these plants can be very strong and must be used with caution (thujone content varies with each species).  I like to massage Artemisia alba (Mugwort) essential oil (diluted in hemp oil) on my abdomen before and during menstruation to reduce stagnation due to cold and damp that can cause cramps, bloating and tension.  I also diffuse a couple drops of essential oil in my home as well to help reduce any accompanying irritability.  Adding Lavender can further enhance your relaxation.

To help reduce infectious respiratory diseases, diffuse Mugwort essential oil or burn Ai Ye as you would White Sage throughout your house to repel “evil” energy.  This can also be effective for clearing negative energy out of your space.  You can smudge yourself with it when you need more energy or clarity.

I leave you with a spritzer recipe that I hope you enjoy as much as I do!  Artemis is the Maiden Goddess of the Hunt and the Moon and Achilles was an undefeated warrior that represents courage and strength.  I like to think these two plants work as a yin (Artemis) yang (Achilles) pair that can bring about deep healing and the courage needed to witness your own healing.

The Alchemy of Artemis & Achilles artemisia-vulgaris-1

1-2 drops wild Artemisia essential oil (alba, argyi, or vulgaris preferred)


1-2 drops wild Achillea essential oil (yarrow)

1/2 ounce wild Helichrysum hydrosol

1  1/2 ounces spring water 

Add water and hydrosol to a 2 ounce glass jar with pump spray top.  Add essential oils.  Shake well and thoroughly blend mixture.  Spray on any injuries (physical or otherwise) that need healing.  Great for bug bites, sprains, dermatitis and deep traumas of body or spirit. This blend is a great healer, as it helps to balance the duality of our yin/yang nature.   

When energy flows, wellness grows

Abundant Blessings,

JessicaBakerPic

Jessica