Chinese Herbal Energetics

Getting to talk about energy and our relationship to nature and the cosmos may be the coolest thing about teaching Chinese medicine classes. I spent the last two days at the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism talking to students about the dynamic relationship between yin and yang that is necessary to create and sustain life. We discussed ethereal concepts like qi (vital life force energy), jing (essence) and shen (spirit) and how to choose herbal medicines based on their energetic properties.

In Chinese herbalism, the taste of herbal substances is what determines its therapeutic action. Five Element theory tells us each element has numerous correspondences, including a taste. In this weeks episode of The Herb Walk Podcast, I talk about Chinese herbal energetics and the importance of choosing the right herb for a person’s constitution. Just like all Chinese medicine practitioners, I also mention poo quite a bit and how it relates to the health of our digestive system.

I hope you enjoy this episode and learn some fun information about why loose stools happen. Please Subscribe to The Herb Walk Podcast so you never miss an episode! And if I can ask a favor- to please post a review wherever you listen to podcasts. It would really help me out!

With love,

Jessica

Winter Solstice-Water Element Podcast Episode

The ultimate yin energy is upon us on December 21st as Winter Solstice approaches and we experience the shortest day and longest night of the year. This year, we will also have a Solstice Full Moon to illuminate the night sky. 

In Chinese medicine, the day after Winter Solstice is when yang begins to rise again. As yin was dominant with the lengthening days, yang ascends slowly to overtake yin. Yang dominates after Spring Equinox when yin and yang reside in balance for a brief Earth day. 

The beginning of Winter also moves us from the Metal Element into the Water Element. (This statement needs a little clarification: For many of us that study the 5 elements, the Earth element/phase represents the 18 day transitional period between each season; therefore the Earth element is between the Metal and Water elements, and so forth).

The Water Element has many correspondences, like the season of Winter, the color of black/dark blue, and the flavor of salty. Instead of writing it all out for you- listen to this week’s episode of The Herb Walk Podcast where I discuss Winter Solstice, the Water Element, and deer penises (you’re just gonna have to listen to find out why!)

May your days be merry and bright!

With love,

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows 

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

 

Hawthorn: Healer of the Heart

There is much to be said about the division we feel in the U.S.  The fundamental difference in how we view equality has always been here, but it is now being fully illuminated with the help of social media. I know I’ve been feeling more separated from humanity than ever before. Growing up in a military family and  moving often, I have always felt a step removed from other people. Relationships and places were temporary and that’s how I viewed life for a long time.

That changed for me when I moved to Humboldt County in 1997. The redwood forest instantly felt like home. I have cultivated friendships that have lasted almost two decades and I know what tribe, community and friendship mean. I am also grateful to have part of that tribe in Colorado. Their love has made my most recent transition to Denver much easier.

This division is certainly affecting my community, and I know it’s affecting most of yours too. There have been times when I am so overwhelmed I feel paralyzed in fear, anger and a deep sense of anguish that I haven’t experienced since my Grandma passed away thirteen years ago. Along with my qi gong and yoga practices, it is the plants that bring me back to myself. They give me strength and momentum when I want to give up on humanity and escape back into my redwood canopy.

hawthorn flowersIt is always, Hawthorn (Crataegus spp)- our master Heart healer that is here for me when I am in deep despair, heartache or grief. The leaf, flowers and berries all have cardiotonic action and have been used to treat heart disease in cultures around the world. The berries are known to dissolve fats and lower cholesterol, but I also hawthorn-tree-with-ripe-red-berrieslike to think of them dissolving all the heaviness of sadness or fear. When I drink a cup of hawthorn tea, I feel nourished, satiated, safe. I feel comforted and enlivened all at once. My shen, spirit, is at peace.

Once I have this peace within myself, I begin to have compassion for others. I can see their journey, their hurt, their fear and I just send them love. And I remember our place is with the plants, with the forests, and with the sea. We are a part of all life on Earth. We are not here to dominate, to rule, to conquer. We are here to live in peace. We just have to find it within ourself to remember.

Today, remember who you are and treat yourself with a warm cup of Hawthorn tea. Or find a Hawthorn tree in your area to sit under and return the love that she gives to you.

With love,

JessicaBaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Featured Art: “Hawthorn tree” by Arthur Rackman 

Our Co-Evolution with Cannabis

I spoke on the The Shift Network’s Plant Medicine Summit with David Crow last Thursday and  was reminded once again of the intricate connection with our plant relations. Listening to all the speakers share their stories and love of herbs filled me with deep joy. Something I realized I haven’t felt in years.

I have been cynical and fearful about the future of our planet and that heaviness has now lifted. Many of us are on the plant path and listening to wise people like Margi Flint, David Winston, and Dr. Vasant Lad, have renewed hope for the healing of so much trauma. We are on a long, evolutionary journey that spans so far into the past and future that most of us can’t even imagine.

I know cannabis is good for our personal evolution. Our endocannabinoid system tells me so. We wouldn’t have so many receptors for cannabinoids if we did not evolve alongside it. Cannabis has been cultivated in parts of Asia for at least 10,000 years and there is some evidence that we may have been using hemp as cordage for 26,000 years. With each plant that gains recognition for its medicinal properties, we move one step closer to healing ourselves and our planet. I am honored to share the medicinal and spiritual properties of cannabis, alongside all of my other herbal allies.

If you didn’t get the chance to listen to my talk on Our Co-evolution with Cannabis and would like to, sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you a link to the talk!

With love,

jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Cannabis & Himalayas  Photo credit: Arne Huckelheim

5 Element Recipe post

 

Chinese medicine is rooted in the knowledge that humans are cosmic beings of this Earth that are intricately connected to the rhythms of nature.

Use this blend when you need balance, clarity or harmony in your life.

Elemental Essences

Fire (Summer)- 3 drops St. John’s Wort essential oil

Earth (Center)- 2 drops Mandarin essential oil

Metal (Autumn)- 2 drops Himalayan Mint essential oil

Water (Winter)- 3 drops Pink Lotus absolute

Wood (Spring)- 2 drops Douglas Fir essential oil

Add all essential oils to a carrier oil (olive, apricot kernel, coconut) and put in a 1 ounce glass bottle. Apply the oil to your heart, head or low back when feeling fatigued, overwhelmed or out of sorts.

With love,

jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

5 Elements

The 5 Elements (I prefer to call them Phases or Cycles) of Chinese Medicine are often discussed but not accurately understood. Many people are excited about Chinese Medicine and want to share it, but the lack of depth in understanding Chinese medical theory has left a gaping hole in most of the teachings on Chinese medicine.

When we talk about the 5 Elements/Phases we are not only discussing the dynamic changes that occur within the body, mind and spirit during each season (and during the transition time between seasons), but also the myriad of colors, emotions, spiritual entities and other correspondences that accompany the “elements.”

Our current interpretation of the 5 Elements is from the Warring States period, when 5 factions were fighting for control. This directly affected how we applied the elements to daily life.

I prefer the classical interpretation, when Earth is represented as the 18 day period five-elements-earth-289x270between each season, a time of transition and preparation for the season ahead. This makes more sense to me than Earth as “late summer” where it seems to be placed just to serve ideology instead of seasonal shifts. In a later blog, I will go deeper into the 5 Elements and the emotions, colors, sounds and other associations.

For more information on the theories of Chinese Medicine, check out The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine (NeiJing SuWen) translated by Maoshing Ni. It is the foundational text of Chinese medicine and is a fascinating read.

With love,

jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

5 Elements

The 5 Elements (I prefer to call them Phases or Cycles) of Chinese Medicine are often discussed but not accurately understood. Many people are excited about Chinese Medicine and want to share it, but the lack of depth in understanding Chinese medical theory has left a gaping hole in most of the teachings on Chinese medicine.

When we talk about the 5 Elements/Phases we are not only discussing the dynamic changes that occur within the body, mind and spirit during each season (and during the transition time between seasons), but also the myriad of colors, emotions, spiritual entities and other correspondences that accompany the “elements.”

Our current interpretation of the 5 Elements is from the Warring States period, when 5 factions were fighting for control. This directly affected how we applied the elements to daily life.

I prefer the classical interpretation, when Earth is represented as the 18 day period five-elements-earth-289x270between each season, a time of transition and preparation for the season ahead. This makes more sense to me than Earth as “late summer” where it seems to be placed just to serve ideology instead of seasonal shifts. In a later blog, I will go deeper into the 5 Elements and the emotions, colors, sounds and other associations.

For more information on the theories of Chinese Medicine, check out The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine (NeiJing SuWen) translated by Maoshing Ni. It is the foundational text of Chinese medicine and is a fascinating read.

With love,

jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows