The Herb Walk Interview with Nicole Gagliano

Due to  my lack of computer savviness, I’ve been having some issues with my podcasts uploading to Stitcher and other platforms. iTunes seems to be ok! My editor is also waay backed up so my episode releases may be delayed as well. I will try my hardest to remain consistent in releasing podcasts this season, but Fear not- all episodes will be released! I’m just chalking these glitches up to Mercury Retrograde and am going with it.

That being said, this episode of The Herb Walk Podcast is one of my favorites, because I got to interview my friend, Nicole Gagliano of Wild and Wise Herbal CSA. Being an herbalist, farmer, and wildcrafter, Nicole’s herbal CSA includes a newsletter and seasonally inspired treats like delicious teas, balms and salves, and even her own distilled hydrosols! Nicole is also a great chef, hilarious, and great to be around. I look forward to the next time we’re together!

Enjoy this episode as we discuss herbalism, conservation, herbal CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), living in Humboldt County, and much more!

With love,

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows 

An Offering of Life (incense recipe)

As I am still reveling in the magic that is the Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium I keep being transported to the tipi circle and the sacred fire. Each time I attend symposium I bring an offering to the fire. I don’t remember when it started, but I do know it was because of the way Linda, the keeper of the fire, attends her holy flame. It is an intimate dance of offering wood, resins, and plants in reverence for receiving warmth, light, and sustenance in return. The ultimate expression of love and gratitude passes between Linda and blaze as they offer life to one another.

It is this offering and exchange that inspires today’s recipe.

An Offering of Life

Powder 1 teaspoon each of the following resins:

Myrrh, Frankincense, Copal, Dragon’s Blood (1/2 tsp), and other resins desired

Powder 1 teaspoon each of the following flowers:

Rose, Lavender, Chamomile, Cannabis, and any other aromatic flower you adore

Mix all powders together and place in a small glass jar.

As desired, burn a dime-sized amount of incense alone or on a piece of charcoal. Sit near the burning incense and verbally give thanks for breath, for life, for all of the blessings that have been bestowed upon you. Inhale deeply and breathe out all that gratitude.

 

With love and gratitude for all of life,

Jessica

cropped-jessicabaker 

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured Photo Credit: pagan path

Merry Meet, Merry Part, Merry Meet Again

I am completely blissed out and blessed up from the Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium!! It’s hard to describe a place that is so sacred that I tear up every time I think about it. I first attended back in the late 90’s (’98 I believe…) and have been able to return several times over the last two decades. It is at the top of the list of things I must do as often as I can! The symposium keeps me connected, keeps me hopeful, and keeps me sane. The aura that surrounds the symposium is palpable, infused with love, wisdom, and ritual. Altars to various female deities are auspiciously and beautifully arranged and a sacred fire remains lit in the center of the  tipi circle. The magnificence of Black Oak Ranch is undeniable, but it is the magic weaved by the women that create the symposium that encompasses you. It is that feeling that keeps you coming back for more.

The symposium is so special to me that I don’t even want to talk about my experiences teaching or attending. Words can’t do justice to how beautiful the Maiden Ceremony is or how sweet the graduation for the boys that age out can be. My gratitude for the campfire songs and my river spot will have to wait until the spell of symposium has worn off and words replace revelry in my soul.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for another opportunity to be loved, to be transformed and to be uplifted. Your presence is a gift!

I hope once day you’ll join us.

Merry Meet, Merry Part, Merry Meet Again. Until next time.

With love and gratitude,

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Jessica  

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Photo credit: NCWHS website 

Fragrant Flower Tea Recipe

My daily walks around Denver are so aromatic this time of year. Everywhere there are roses, dogwoods, cottonwoods, and lilacs wafting their gifts my way. The rain has made everyone vibrant and green, coming to life after winter.

All of their beauty has inspired me to share a recipe from the Rose chapter of my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine. I hope Rose fills you with as much love as she has me.

Rose’s Song: Love Yourself, Everyday

Fragrant Flower Tea

Harvest a handful of roses, daisies, calendula, violet flowers and any other edible flower (make sure they are not sprayed with pesticides). If using lavender, use only a small amount, as it can taste soapy. Pour hot water over flowers and cover completely. Steep for 20 minutes in a glass jar with lid on. Strain flowers and collect water in a glass quart jar. Drink the tea throughout the day to open your heart and promote relaxation.

If you’d like to order your copy of Plant Songs, go to Balboa Press or Amazon.

With much love and gratitude,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured Image: Rose created by Jason Garcia 

Learning from the Masters

I have been having a hard time liking humans lately, which is not a good place to be in. When I went to Peru this trip I knew that is what I wanted to work on with the shamans at Refugio Altiplano. The shamans Jose and Heracio, listened compassionately as I spoke about how humans are on the fast track to destruction and how I couldn’t assimilate the actions of our insane reality. When I was finished, I felt more at peace just knowing there are men like these two helping to facilitate the healing of us all.

The next day Jose tells us we are going to Terapaca, the small village 30 minutes or so

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Older children by the new playground

upriver from Tamshiyacu. Terapaca is where some of the staff live, including Jose. Last year we went to the village to celebrate Peruvian Independence Day and noticed that the playground at the school was in total disrepair. The small group I was in (all friends of Refugio owner, Kelly Green) decided to pitch in and buy a new playground for the children of the village. A year later, it was such a joy to see the kids playing on the swings, see saw, monkey bars, and other structures. 

 

I knew what Jose was doing. He reminded me that all humans are not evil, destructive. By taking us to the village, he reminded me that all humans are not evil, destructive beings. He showed me how village life is in contrast to our modern lifestyles. I saw the beauty of life through the eyes and hearts of children. I saw our future and the potential for greatness in us all. It was heartfelt and beautiful. A gift I needed at just the right time.

So that is my message today. Be hopeful for the future. Be a beacon of light for the children, for they emulate what they see. Know that we are all held in the bosom of the Earth, loved and adored for exactly who we are. And if you need reminding like I did, go to Refugio Altiplano and they will show you your brilliance.

With much love and gratitude for all of life,

jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured Image: Staff at Refugio Altiplano

An Offering to the Trees

My recipe today is a re-post from last June. As I sit among the trees in the Amazon jungle I am reminded of how powerful a simple offering can be.

The recipe today is a simple offering from my heart to our life-giving Earth.

Sit at the base of your favorite tree (it can be in your yard, the park, or in the forest- just make sure it hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides or chemicals). Take 3 deep breathes and notice any subtle or profound changes in your body that occur with each breath. What does the exchange of CO2 and O2 with this magnificent tree feel like? With permission, take a leaf, flower and/or twig from the tree and place it in a bowl of fresh spring (or filtered) water. Infuse in the water for as long as you have time, whether it’s 5 minutes or overnight). When you feel ready, gently take out the plant material and take a sip of the infusion. Allow the vitality of the tree to flow through you. What medicine does this tree have to offer? What do you have to offer back?

With love and gratitude,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Four Books on Medicine from the Amazon

I am still in the Amazon jungle about an hour boat ride up the Amazon River from Iquitos, Peru. More than likely at this moment I am listening to the symphony of insects, birds, and monkeys while I lay in my hammock and reflect on the ceremonies of the past couple of nights.

If you are interested in coming to Peru, I highly recommend you bring herb books so you can identify some of the plant life that thrives in this ancient rainforest.

Two books I can’t do without are The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs: A Guide to Understanding and Using Herbal Medicinalsby Leslie Taylor, N.D. and A Field Guide to Medicinal and Useful Plants of the Upper Amazonby J.L. Castner, S.L. Timme and J.A. Duke.

For understanding the medicine of ayahuasca, check out these books, Rainforest Medicine: Preserving Indigenous Science and Biodiversity in the Upper Amazon by Jonathon Miller Weisberger and The Fellowship of the River, A Medical Doctor’s Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicineby Joseph Tafur, M.D.

I hope you find these books as helpful as I do.

With love and gratitude,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Conifer Foot Bath Recipe

As I sit among the plethora of trees and other plants in the Amazon jungle I think of how grateful I am for the life I live because of them. As much as I love all trees, there is a special place in my heart for conifers like pine and redwood.

This recipe is inspired by the Tree Walk I took with Deb Soule and Kate Gilday at the International Herb Symposium and for my love of our life giving conifers. Thank you Deb and Kate for your gentle wisdom.

Take a walk through your favorite grove of conifers and breathe deeply, giving thanks for the life they have provided for millions of years. Look down and see if there are any offerings of small branches with fresh green needles on them. If so, gently pick them up and bring a small bundle back to your house. Put the branches in a large pot and cover with water. Put lid on pot and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn down heat and take out one cup of tea for yourself. Cover again and simmer for 20 minutes. Take out another cup of tea for yourself.

Once the water is warm enough to use as a footbath, pour water (with or without branches) into a small tub. Soak your feet for 5-10 minutes, allowing the strength of the trees to come up through your roots, helping you stand tall and true in your convictions. Breathe and give thanks.

With love and gratitude,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Back in the Amazon Jungle Again

I am in Peru with six beautiful women experiencing all the Amazon jungle has to offer. We are back at Refugio Altiplano, a natural healing wellness center, where I spent time last year with my husband and a few dear friends.

Since I am immersed in my jungle retreat and not in Internet range (thank goddess!) I share with you my experience from Peru last year. I will share my most recent experience when I return in the middle of the month.

From July 2017: It’s hard to explain the Amazon rainforest to those that haven’t experienced it. I’ve listened to others tell me all about their trips to Peru and how much they loved the people, the plethora of plants and animals, and none of their explanations could’ve prepared me for how utterly amazing this place is.

My husband Chip and I started it off with a day in Lima, scouring music stores for a Peruvian made guitar and a 10-stringed Andean instrument called a charango. Much to our surprise, we came across a luthier that had both in his shop. My charango is so new I can still smell the varnish on it! On the plane from Lima to Iquitos, the guitar got a little banged up, but it just adds to the story of our Peruvian guitar.

Once we arrived in Iquitos, we met up with our friend Kelly (aka “Sparkles”) that has been coming down to the Amazon for 17 years. After the unfortunate death of the owner of Refugio Altiplano, he was asked if he would be interested in buying it since he had been attending ceremonies there since 2000. Much to his (and our) pleasure, he was able to pull it off and is now the proud custodian/proprietor of a natural medicine-healing center with over 20 years of history of helping people heal.

Refugio Altiplano is over an hours boat ride up the Amazon River on old cattle grazing land surrounded by 1,200 of acres of rainforest preserve. It is a beautiful property with El Centro, a meeting area that includes the kitchen and dining area, several rustic jungle casas, and a maloca where ayahuasca ceremonies are held.

They also have a large medicinal herb garden where they are growing peppers, aloe, and noni, alongside wild sangre de grado (dragon’s blood), una de gato (cat’s claw), chacruna, and ayahuasca. The reverence that Jose, a Mestizo shaman, and the true custodian and guardian of Refugio Altiplano, has for all of these plants is as palatable as the oxygen rich air the rainforest exudes.

It was during the ayahuasca ceremonies that I truly experienced Jose’s love of plantmedicine. Once he began to pray and sing the ayahuasca songs, I could feel the sacredness of his words infusing me with love that transcends time and space. Once Daniel, a very powerful Shipibo shaman, begins to sing an icaro to each one of us, I was already deep into the medicine of ayahuasca. An icaro is a song that shamans sing to induce a profound state of healing and awareness. It is unlike anything I have experienced before. Beautiful and deeply, deeply healing.

The river, the villagers, the shamans, the abundance of medicinal plants, they are now ingrained in my body and in my soul. They are again a part of me, as they always have been, as they always will be.

With love and gratitude,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Open & Bloom Spritz

One of my favorite things about Spring is watching the trees bud. As I watch them unfurl and open, I am reminded of how I also have the ability to blossom and grow year after year. In Denver it is always such a welcoming sight as I know the cold Winter is coming to an end. Living so long in California I forgot how drastically different I feel with each season change.  It feels good to witness my internal and external bloom!

Open & Bloom Spritz

2 drops Magnolia blossom essential oil- for transformation of self and spirit

2 drops Lavender essential oil- for accepting ourselves in times of transition

2 drops Mandarin essential oil- for integrating changes during transformation

2 drops Frankincense essential oil- for holding on to the truths of transformation

Add all essential oils to 1 ounce of spring water in a glass spritzer bottle.

Shake well. Spray yourself as often as needed to help with times of transformation.

 

With love and gratitude,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows