Waking Up From Winter’s Slumber

Spring is almost here! Thankfully the snow didn’t wash away all of the early fruit blossoms and we may have a bumper crop year of plums and apples. I hope so! Last year we didn’t get any so I hope this year is different.

I see some of my herbal friends starting to wake up from their winter’s rest…dandelion, plantain, violet, self-heal,….I see you shooting your new sprouts! Although they are still small, I see the potential for what is going to prosper on our land this year. It’s always a little different and I love to see who will show up next!

What plants are awakening around or within you?

By the way….have you ordered your copy of Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine yet?

If not (or you want to gift it to a friend), order here!

 

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Morning Cup of Tea

It hardly seems like winter this week in Northern California. Instead of our steady fog and rain, we have had sunshine and temperatures in the mid 60’s. No complaints here as I soak up as much sun as I can!

It is getting brighter in the mornings and the days are gradually increasing, making the warmer days of spring more of a reality. I am still taking my daily tonics as people are still getting sick around me and I do my best to avoid going down like that. Especially since I leave for a yoga retreat in Tulum in 10 days!

I have been loving the Tulsi Rose tea from Humboldt Herbals. I worked at Humboldt Herbals many moons ago when they first opened in Old Town Eureka 20 years ago! Time flies, and us with it! Check out all the herbs, teas, essential oils, skin care, and other goodies they have to offer. You can also hear my interview with the proprietress of Humboldt Herbals, Julie Caldwell.

The combination of Rose Petals, Tulsi Bail, Red Raspberry leaf, and Green Cardamom is mildly spicy and so delicious. Sometimes I add a pinch of  Elderberry and Star Anise to keep my immune system even stronger. Either with little honey or unsweetened, this blend keeps me healthy and happy.

May you also enjoy a nourishing cup of herbal tea today!

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Daily Nourishing Tea Recipe

I mentioned in the last blog that I had many plant allies to help me overcome my pain, fear and distraction last year. I shared my personal experiences with St. John’s Wort, Cannabis and Milky Oats. What I always find amazing is that it only takes an aroma, a touch, or a sip to feel a difference.

I’d love to share my essential nourishing morning tea recipe with you. May it nourish you as it nourishes me!

Daily Nourishing Tea

8 ounces Filtered Water

1 tsp Milky oats (Avena sativa)

1 tsp Rose petals (Rosa centafolia)

1 tsp Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

1 tsp Elderberries (Sambucus nigra)

Boil water and pour over plant material. Steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain, sip and enjoy! Drink 1-2 cups every morning as a nourishing tonic. The herbs can be steeped at least one more time.

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Winter Solstice Celebration

Winter Solstice is the celebration of the longest night of the year. It is a time to gather with loved ones and reflect on the past year. It is a time to honor what we have lost and gained. We celebrate the harvest and the cycles of the Earth. We honor our own cycles and what has transpired for us since the last dark night.

On Winter Solstice, we gather to write down what we need to get rid of before the return of the Sun. We go deep within and root out our darkest fears, so they can be brought to light, transformed, and released. Build a fire and write down these fears, throw them into the flames and watch them burn and be transformed into smoke and ash. Now write down what you want to cultivate in the year ahead. It can be cultivating kindness, community, or money. Tape your intentions to your bathroom mirror and say them out loud every morning. You will be surprised at how quickly these thoughts and words become reality.

As you hold your ceremony, you might want to have your herbal allies to help bring insight into your fears and intentions.

Herbs that Ground & Guide

Rosemary– spicy, aromatic, and stimulating, rosemary reminds you of who you are. Rosemary guides energy through all three burners (san jiao in Chinese medicine) and transforms dampness, bringing clarity to all situations. A sprig in 8 ounces of hot water will also help with bloating and nausea after eating.

Reishi mushroom– bitter and calming, reishi mushroom assists you in going deep. Reishi calms the mind and the spirit, making it an important herb in quieting an overactive mind and nervous system. One medium sized mushroom can be decocted in a quart of water for 1-12 hours as a medicinal tonic (take 1-4 ounces of decoction daily). The longer you boil, the more bitter the tea becomes.

Marshmallow root– cool and nourishing, marshmallow root soothes irritation in the digestive and urinary tracts. It benefits anybody that needs to be nurtured and supported. One tablespoon of marshmallow root simmered in 8 ounces of water for 15 minutes makes a grounding, earthy tasting tea.

For the love of plants,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Image credit: Annya

 

The Herb Walk Podcast Interview with Jane Bothwell

I wasn’t going to release another podcast episode until next year and then I thought you might want one to listen to on your holiday travels! In this episode I speak with my very first herb teacher, Jane Bothwell.

We discuss her annual medicinal cannabis conference and her many herbal offerings in northern California and around the globe (she is taking small groups to Hawaii and Greece in 2018). Jane’s herb school, Dandelion Herbal Center, is nestled in the redwoods in beautiful and remote Humboldt County, California. An ideal location to connect with the spirit of plants! Through her Festival of Herbs series, she invites herbalists like Rosemary Gladstar, Pam Montgomery, Christopher Hobbs and others from across the U.S. to visit and share their wisdom to the herbal community. She is a gift to us all and I am so happy to share a little of her story with you!

Enjoy this episode of The Herb Walk Podcast and Subscribe today to catch up on all of Season 1 and find out when Season 2 is released next year!

Aromatic Spices for the Holy Days

‘Tis the season for warming carminative spices! We all associate cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves with pumpkin pie, hot apple cider, and holiday cookies, but they are also some of our most important herbal medicines. The exoticness of their fragrances has fueled their trade and popularity for centuries, making them now common spices in kitchens around the world. Spices, like other herbs, have distinct medicinal properties and have been present in cooking since time immemorial. It is ingrained in our nature to add spices to our food. All of our traditions reflect this connection to food as medicine, whether we celebrate Solstice, Chanukah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa.

Aromatic Medicine for the Holy Days:

Cinnamon/Rou Gui (Cinnamomum cassia)- Spicy, sweet and hot; Chinese cinnamon bark is used to strengthen mingmen fire (gate of life), making it excellent for treating internal coldness that causes abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea

Cloves/ Ding Xiang (Syzygium aromaticum): Spicy and warm; cloves are a key herb for warming digestion and treating abdominal fullness, vomiting, nausea, and hiccups

Star Anise/Da Hui Xiang (Illicium verum): Spicy, sweet, and warm; star anise is wonderful for treating cold digestion that causes abdominal pain with bloating, vomiting, and nausea

I look forward to hearing about (and tasting) how you incorporate spices into your holy day dishes!

For the love of plants,

 

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Image credit © Adam Ward

On the Road Again

I am on the road again. This time driving back to Denver from Northern California. I’m a little sad to leave my epic coastal home to come back to “Babylon,” but I am more than a little excited to see my Colorado friends. I’m also thrilled to finish up the first line of products for Baker Botanica….and hopefully have some ready for release in the next month or so! We’ll see how it all goes.

Also wanted to let you know that my book, Plant Songs, is in the production phase. This means that I’m working on the cover art and formatting for the book. I will have a printed copy of Plant Songs in hand in January 2018! Agh!!! It’s so exciting and scary at the same time!

It feels good to wrap up these projects by the end of the year (and to have put out the first season of The Herb Walk Podcast).  It has been a whirlwind year of intensity and amazingness! I look forward to a more mellow December to assimilate it all.

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

Giving Thanks for Nature

These rainy Humboldt days have me pining for a little of that Colorado sunshine. I will be back there soon enough and then I will miss the grey misty coast. I will just enjoy the moisture while I can and give thanks for the opportunity to enjoy both places.

The thing I love most about being an herbalist is learning about plants that grow around huckleberryme, wherever I happen to be. Autumn in Humboldt means rain and that means mushrooms, moss, and lichens. The berries are almost gone and any lingering flowers have given up to the dark days ahead. It is beautiful!

If you get the chance, go outside today and see what is still growing around you. What is hanging on to the last days of summer’s warmth? Give thanks for the abundant life that surrounds you, even when it looks like the dormant days of winter are ahead.

 

For the love of plants,

cropped-jess-plant-bath 

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

 

Herbs & Spices for Samhain

Today we celebrate Samhain, a day between times, where the Celts celebrated the end of Summer and the beginning of Winter. It is the feast of the dead, a time of the thin veil, where spirits, ghosts and beings of other worlds walk among us. To appease them, remember to leave food and drink offerings on altars and doorsteps for the “wandering dead.”

Today is also known as witches day. An auspicious day where medicine made is very strong as it is infused with all the celestial energy of timeless space. Add herbs and spices of the season to honor the coming dark, cold time.

Some of my favorites herbs for Samhain are the warm carminative spices of ginger, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon. I decoct the spices with freshly harvested roots of dandelion, yellowdock, and angelica for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and throw in a pinch of mugwort leaves to help with dreamspace and astral travel. Sip throughout the night as you celebrate the spirits around and within you.

For the love of plants,

cropped-jess-plant-bath

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Photo credit: Smithsonian