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,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica  

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Photo credit: NCWHS website 

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

IMG_1433
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

The Herb Walk Podcast Interview with Julie Caldwell

This is by far one of my favorite interviews so far.  I have known Julie since my first herb class back in 1998 and we have spent many hours hanging out and wildcrafting. On this episode of The Herb Walk Podcast we talk plant spirit medicine, herbalism, and what it’s like running a community pharmacy for almost 20 years.

Julie Caldwell, MA, is the creator of Humboldt Herbals and has had the great pleasure to serve the community as an herbalist for over 18 years. She’s a constant student of medicinal plants and the healing arts, and loves to teach about the beautiful and elegant relationship between people and plants. She offers intuitive herbal consultations and Plant Spirit Medicine by appointment only. For more information, please email Julie at juliecaldwell@humboldtherbals.com.

Don’t miss an episode, subscribe to The Herb Walk Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher today!

With love,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Actions Speak Louder than Love

I am disgusted by the white supremists that are emboldened by our current president and conservative politicians, since they have normalized being racist, misogynists, and downright hateful. I am not surprised like many people. If you think this is something new then you are ultra privileged, have your head in the sand, or both.

Racism is learned behavior, taught by generations of hateful people that use the excuses of fear and economy to stay ignorant and mean. Besides donating money to organizations that fight oppression and racism, take the time to work within your community to make a positive change for those that need it most. It’s not easy, it won’t happen overnight, but it is us, the privileged ones, that are responsible for contributing to making America safe for all of us.

One of the ways I help is to spread knowledge of herbal medicine. Knowledge is power, and knowing what herbs we can use to heal ourselves (instead of relying on doctors and the pharmaceutical industry to do it for us) is empowering. It may be the most important thing we can do to lessen the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots.”

If you are an herbalist, acupuncturist, or other health care provider, I encourage you to give back. Teach a donation based class on community herbalism, give free or low cost treatments to those in need, donate herbs or products to free clinics, just give back in whatever capacity you can.

Don’t let your fear, sadness, or embarrassment keep you from making the world a better place. It will take all of us.

With love,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

My Adventures in Peru

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.

IMG_3166My 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 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwhere 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 plant IMG_3248medicine. 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 humble and 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 people, 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,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jessica

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 

Being Compassion: The Wood Element

Ahhh, Spring is here! Equinox always brings me to tears of joy as I witness the balance of yin and yang on our planet and feel it harmonizing within me. Winter is damn hard for many of us, and Spring bring us a renewed sense of hope and positivity. The longer days gives us that solar energy everything on Earth needs to thrive. Spring is the time to start bringing your wintertime musings and dreams from the visionary world into the material one. Understanding the nuances of the Wood element can help you with those manifestations.

I wanted to introduce you to the Wood Element in Chinese Medicine, as it represents Spring, and the generation of new life, new energy, and new ideas. The Wood element/phase has gotten a negative wrap (like an ethereal concept of the manifestation of life on Earth can be negative!) with people saying “when the wood element is out of balance, one is angry, inflexible, bossy, violent, loud and rude.” All of these qualities can be attributed to Wood out of balance- but one very important quality of Wood is often not talked about. The Hun- our ethereal souls.

The Hun are described in different ways but many texts say the Hun are three benevolent, 3vin-sagescompassionate beings that guide our actions, thoughts and dreams. When out of balance, the Hun are restless and can become frustrated, relentless or de-motivated. We can help balance our Hun by leading a more simple life. Eat foods that are easier to digest (knowing your constitution is key to good health because appropriate foods will differ between people), minimize the alcohol and drugs, take a deep breath in times of stress instead of spiraling out of control. These can be life changing moments when you just took one minute to care for yourself instead of going down a road of negative emotions.

Spring is the time to eat those tender, young greens! Dandelion, burdock, violet, nettles- all are sprouting right now and inviting you to take a couple nibbles of their new growth. Try it! You may just like it- and your Hun will love you for it!

May the blessings of Spring bring you renewed energy, compassion and insight into why you chose to be here, right now, with all of us.

With love,

jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Community Offerings Revised

I got so excited about putting classes out there that I didn’t realize I had a scheduling conflict with the studio at Urban Sanctuary. I’m not able to host a 4-week series at this time, but I can offer an Intro to Herbalism on February 28 and two Community Herbalism classes on March 16 & March 30. A longer herbal series will be offered later this year!

Life is about going with the flow, and because of this shift I am able to offer another Community Acupuncture on March 17. The transformations that occur when we come together with the intention of healing our traumas is beautifully profound. I am honored to be able to offer this once again.

All offerings held at Urban Sanctuary 2745 Welton Street, Denver CO

Tuesday Feb 28, 2017

6pm-7:30pm 

Intro to Herbalism 

This donation-based class is offered to give you a brief overview of western and Chinese herbal energetics, aromatherapy, and plant spirit medicine. I’m interested in knowing what the community wants to learn about so I can offer classes according to your needs.

Thursday March 16 & Thursday March 30, 2017

7pm-8:30pm

Community Herbalismlove-yourself

These classes are meant to inspire you to take your health into your own hands. You will be introduced to Western & Chinese herbal energetics, aromatherapy, and plant spirit medicine. The second class will build on the first class. You are welcome to come to one or both. Herbal teas, essential oils and elixirs will be shared.

Please come with an open mind and an open heart. Drop-in available if the class doesn’t fill. Class is limited to 15 people.  $15/class

Friday March 10 & Friday March 17, 2017

12pm-2pm

Community Acupuncture

$10-20 suggested donation (no one will be turned away due to lack of funds)

Your session will be in the yoga room. There may be up to 8 people receiving acupuncture at the same time. You will be lying on a mat, supported with blankets and bolsters. Auricular (ear) acupuncture will be provided and body points may be used in some cases. The intention of this community acupuncture is to help heal the collective trauma we have all experienced. Walk-in only

If you’d like to attend the herbal classes, contact me at 707.499.8587 or jbakerlac@gmail.com

I hope to see you at one or all of these events. Please share the word to others in the Denver/Boulder area!

With love,

JessicaBakerPic

 

Jessica

Community Herbal Classes in Denver

I have had so much on my plate lately that I haven’t been able to focus on doing one of the things I love so much- teaching people about the powers of herbalism!

That is why I am so happy to announce I have scheduled 5 upcoming herb classes. All classes will be held at Urban Sanctuary at 2745 Welton Street Denver, CO 80205

Tuesday Feb 28th

6pm-7:30pm 

Intro to Herbalism          

This donation based class is offered to give you a brief overview of western and Chinese herbalismherbal energetics, aromatherapy, and plant spirit medicine. I’m interested in knowing what the community wants to learn about so I can offer classes according to your needs. A 4-part herbal series begins Thursday March 16th.

Thursdays March 16, 23, 30, April 6

7pm-8:30pm 

4- week Community Herbalism Series

This is a 4-week series that will include Western & Chinese herbal energetics, aromatherapy, herbal medicine making and plant spirit medicine. Please come with an open mind and an open heart. Drop-in available is the series doesn’t fill. Limit is 15 people.  $50/series, $15/class

I’m also hosting a Community Acupuncture clinic to offer services to those that may not be able to afford a private session.

Friday March 10 12pm-2pm

Community Acupuncture Clinic

img_0307$10-20 suggested donation, Walk-in only

Your session will be in the yoga room. There may be up to 8 people receiving acupuncture at the same time. You will be lying on a mat, supported with blankets and bolsters. Auricular (ear) acupuncture will be provided and body points may be used in some cases. The intention of this community acupuncture is to help heal the collective trauma we have all experienced.  More community acupuncture clinics to come. (photo credit: AWB)

Contact Jessica at 707.499.8587 or jbakerlac@gmail.com to register for classes.

I hope to see you there!

With love,

cropped-jessicabakerpic.png

Jessica

Rising Up to the Occasion

Being in Denver has been a drastic change from my rural lifestyle of northern California. The opportunity to step away from daily clinical work and the stresses of running a thriving practice have given me time to write, formulate and come back into myself as Jessica, instead of the professional self of “Dr.” Baker. It has been an insightful transition, as I’ve reflected on my own insecurities surrounding all the aspects of who I am and why I am drawn to working with plants and people.

I have missed the one-on-one counseling of my clients as well as the community vibe of group acupuncture. That is why I’m so happy to announce that I will be seeing clients at Urban Sanctuary. I’m offering private sessions of Western and Chinese herbal consultations, Aromatherapy sessions,and Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.

Beginning in March I will be hosting one Community Acupuncture sessions a month! Urban Sanctuary is a perfect location,. Being a yoga studio, there is plenty of space to lay down on yoga mats, breathe and allow your body to heal. I will also be able to hold classes on herbalism, Chinese medicine and anything else I’m inspired to share. The intention of my work is to help empower others to heal themselves so that our larger community will benefit in ways that can be hard to imagine.

I’m really stoked to be a part of Urban Sanctuary, a boutique wellness studio that offers yoga, meditation, workshops and
traditional health care services in the 5 Points community. The founder, Ali Duncan, created the sanctuary as a way to encourage and educate people on the powers of preventative health and self-healing. Learn more about  Urban Sanctuary and all they have to offer.

Call me at 707.499.8587  to schedule an acupuncture session or herbal/aromatherapy consultation! I’m honored to be part of healing and uniting our community.

With love,

JessicaBakerPic

Jessica