The Herb Walk Podcast Interview with Rachael Carlevale of Ganjasana

I’m super stoked about this podcast episode because it is with a successful stoner sister, Rachael Carlevale. Rachael is the founder of Ganjasana, a ganja infused training that incorporates permaculture, plant medicine, and yoga. It is truly a unique concept for a yoga teacher training.

I don’t want to give the episode away, but as a teaser I’ll tell you she has studied in Peru with Chris Kilham (Medicine Hunter) through UMASS. Rachael won a grant from Cosmic Sister to go back to Peru years later and she an activist for all plant medicine. Oh, and she loves good ganja.

We had a great time recording this interview. I hope you enjoy listening to it! Remember to Subscribe to The Herb Walk Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher!

With love,

Jessica

ps. My visions for 2019 blog post will be released this weekend. It’s kind of a heavy one, y’all….

The Real Dirt Podcast Interview from Peru

I don’t know about you, but for me it’s hard to get my thoughts in order after all that sugar intake yesterday! I’ve been writing down my Lessons Learned from 2018 and Vision for 2019 and it’s been a little hard rehashing the year. It was challenging for many of us and as we have high hopes for the future, it is going to take hard work on our parts to make it happen.

As an herbalist, I rely on my herbal allies to keep me healthy, sane, and balanced. This means everything from smelling a rose bush or spruce tree when I walk by to drinking a cup of herbal tea to smoking a joint of some fine cannabis. I utilize what I need when I need it.

Right now I need to brew myself an elderberry citrus peel tea, take a bath, and check out for the night. I’m not going to release another episode of The Herb Walk Podcast until January. In the mean time, enjoy this interview of me on the The Real Dirt Podcast. Recorded at Refugio Altiplano in the Amazon jungle in Peru, Chip Baker and I discuss cannabis, ayahuasca, and how we met through the Cannabis Action Network back in the early 1990’s. You can almost feel the mosquito bites through the recording.

Have a fabulous rest of 2018! Until next year.

With love,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Image: Maloca at Refugio Altiplano; taken by me

Sunday Evening Come Down Foot Soak

My feet ached after three nights of dancing to one of my favorite bands, STS9. Two of those nights were at Red Rocks Amphitheater, which boasts 380 stairs to the top. Needless to say, I needed to soak my feet!

I pulled out my resin foot bowl, filled it hot water, threw in flowers, sea salt, and a couple of drops of essential oil, grabbed a book (Educated by Tara Westover- not the best book when trying to relax, but a must read if you haven’t), a joint, a glass of water, and chilled. It was beautiful.

And not something I do often enough. As I sat there feeling the warmth of the salt water and the aroma of the herbs work their magic, I began to breathe long deep breaths of relief. The intensity of the last couple of months moved through me and freed up tension that entangled my muscles and my mind.

After three eclipses, everything retrograde, and moving into production of my essential oil line, I finally felt like myself again. The effects of a little self-love and recognition for the transformations I have gone through are still marinating, but it feels good. Like I will transcend into loving myself for exactly who I am.

I share my Sunday Evening Come Down Foot Soothing Soak recipe with you, but I encourage you to choose whichever flowers and herbs you need that day.

Sunday Evening Come Down Foot Soothing Soak 

Handful of Sea Salt (can use Epsom salt)

Handful of dried Organic Rose petals

3 sprigs of fresh Tulsi Basil (from my friend Willow’s yard)

3 sprigs of fresh Garden Sage (from my yard)

6 sprigs of fresh Mints (variety from my yard)

2 drops of Lavender essential oil  

Muddle the herbs and add to footbath (bin, or tub big enough to fit both feet), along with the salt. Fill the bath 1/4-1/2 full with water that has been boiled. Add enough cold water to have your feet rest comfortably. Add essential oil and disperse it in the water. Take a moment of gratitude as you immerse your soles in the warm liquid. Soak your feet for as long as you feel like it. Keep adding hot water (it’s awesome if you have someone boiling water and replenishing it for you, but that could be wishful thinking). After you dry your feet, apply coconut oil liberally. Pour the herbal water into your grass or garden. Give thanks for the nourishment they provide.

If you don’t have a bin or tub large enough to fit both feet, or your body wants it, make this a bath soak instead of a foot soak.

Take care of those souls. And remember to keep on dancing.

If you want more herbal recipes, check out my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine from Balboa Press.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

My Initiation into Herbalism

As I say every August 1st, this is an auspicious day for my husband Chip and I. It is the date we drove into California with nothing but our favorite albums and our cat, Mama Kitty. We were young, adventurous and ready to feel the freedom California promised. The passing of Proposition 215 and the reputation for great ganja was the catalyst for our move to Humboldt County in 1997. We were emboldened by our youth, Prop 215, and the freedom fighters that came before. Little did I know that the allure of cannabis would bring me to the redwood forest where I would be initiated into the world of healing plants.

As you approach the Humboldt County line on 101 North you notice that the temperature drops as the towering redwood trees block out the sun. The air stills and time seems to slow down as soon as you are in the presence of these gentle giants. A feeling of serenity and calm engulfs you as you enter the timelessness of an ancient forest. It is a visceral feeling, being in awe of magnificence much greater than oneself.

I still remember the first time I experienced a redwood forest. Their beauty temporarily stunned me, as I stood looking up into their branches. Visions of times long ago instantly flashed through my mind. I could see what it was like before humans separated from nature, before profit surpassed our love of the land, before the decimation of entire forests and their ecosystems. The reality of how recent it all occurred struck me deeply and I began to understand how greatly humans impacted the world. It was a surreal interaction to have these trees communicate with me instantly and so directly. All I could do was listen.

In my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine,I devote a chapter to Redwood although the entire book is inspired by my love of these brilliant beings. Here is an excerpt from Plant Songs about the wisdom from the Grandmother Tree that lives behind my house:

Redwood: Think Back, Slow Down, Listen, Remember  

There is a 2nd-growth redwood tree beside my house whom I call Grandmother Tree. I have been speaking to this tree since my husband and I bought the property where she lives. Grandmother Tree has one of the largest burls I’ve eve seen at her base. In this burl are the spirits of Green Man and an ancient tree fairy. I see them both very clearly, although it is with Green Man that I most often converse. Green Man has been called by many names: Shen Nong, Pan, and Osiris are but a few. He is one of the manifestations that nature speaks through. With Green Man and Grandmother Tree I have had the most profound insights about humanity’s place in the natural world. I have listened to nature as she describes witnessing the demise of the human race. It is our mad quest for dominance that has separated us from the rest of Life and has stunted evolutionary growth as a result. Instead of working alongside nature, we have attempted to manipulate and control it, to the detriment of all of life on Earth.

The Earth is a living being with countless ecosystems that are always altered and sometimes destroyed by human habitation. The dramatic decrease in redwood trees has also decreased the intense fog that once engulfed and sustained life in the millions of acres of redwood canopy. The loss of canopy and fog has led to the decline of species within an ecosystem that has existed for millions of years. We can’t foresee the consequences of destroying such an ecosystem.

Grandmother Tree has spoken to me about how humans have nearly destroyed themselves time and time again. She says we are a resilient species but not beyond extinction. Her neutrality soothes me. She is matter-of-fact. Her attitude says, We enjoy having you here, but it’s your choice to stay. We can destroy or we can create, and we will reap what we sow. Life on Earth will thrive. The question is, will we?

As I re-read this passage it gives me hope. Human time is so small compared to planetary and cosmic time. I hope we humans change our ways. If we don’t the Earth will survive and eventually thrive again. I really hope the redwoods are part of that revolution.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Lovin’ It All Up Sun Tea Recipe

Lovin’ It All Up Sun Tea

1-3 tablespoon of the following fresh herbs:

Stinging Nettle, Dandelion, Plantain, Lemon Balm, Wild Violet flowers, and/or your favorite herbal allies 

Lightly garble all herbs together and put in your favorite clear glass jar (and a teaspoon of honey if you want to).  Pour cool spring water over the herbs and sit jar in the sun for as long as you desire. Strain off herbs and give back to the earth with thanks for her nourishment. Drink tea with gratitude for your life and for everyone else’s too.

With love and gratitude for all of life,

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Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

Photo credit: Me

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 

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

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

Time to Move On

As we all process our emotions from the traumatic events of the last few weeks I am reminded of how much we really need our plant medicine. As devastating as hurricanes and mass shootings are (and the loss of Tom Petty- RIP), it is the devastation we are inflicting on our planet that I mourn most of all.

Everyday I participate in practices that only benefit myself and my own selfish desires. Hummus in a plastic container is more convenient that making my own. I use oils that are shipped from Asia so I can make herbal infusions.  I love the freedom of traveling the world to experience other cultures and see their local plants. I will continue to willingly be a part of the problem as long as petroleum is our main source of fuel. There are a million other ways I am part of the problem. This blog isn’t about how guilty I should feel for being a “bad person.” It is a call to action to participate in healing humanity from the societal sickness that is causing the degradation of the planet and the destruction of our spirits.

Humans have this fucked up idea that we are the “top of the food chain.” Christianity has done a great job in perpetuating this falsehood. It’s time to recognize the lies we have been fed to justify our egotistical destructive behavior. It is not our right to treat all other life forms as they are here for our sustenance and pleasure. I have even seen this belief transfer over to herbalism and aromatherapy, where most people truly love our plant allies.

Plants are not solely here for our physical and spiritual health. Yes plants like to help us, but they were not put here just for you to harvest for your tea or salve. Medicinal plants are not alive to serve us. Plants are sentient beings that were part of this Earth eons before mammals evolved. Humans have a very small concept of space, time, and life on Earth. If we expect to thrive on this planet for millennia to come we have to start thinking bigger. Much, much bigger!

Our psyches can’t take the trauma we experience and watch, every day. The internet makes us aware of all the killings, famine, racism, genocide, misogyny, and natural disasters in real time. This is too hard for us to assimilate, affecting everything from our digestion to our mental health. Our societies are not set up for people to grow emotionally, spiritually or mentally. The industrial revolution set up a system to condition us to be indoors (work in a factory, go to school).  We did not evolve indoors. We are not meant to work all day to perpetuate a society that only survives by harming all life on Earth. People are breaking. The paradigm has to shift. We have to get back to what we truly know is important. We have to integrate back into a simple way of living. We have to get back to the land.

I’ve found the best way to acknowledge and process what I’m feeling is to be out in nature. Just walking among the forest or sitting by the ocean reminds me that humans are just a small part of all the other life in this universe. I see myself as part of the miracle of life. I feel the significance of my own being and my connection to everything around me.

When you are feeling sad, fearful or disempowered, I encourage you to get out in nature and take a few minutes to just sit and listen. Inhale deeply and let in the energy of all life around you. Let the breath of the Earth infuse you with a vitality lighter than grief, brighter than sorrow. Exhale and cry, scream, kick and run for yourself and your fellow woman. Weep for Mother Earth and the extinctions we have witnessed. And then listen to the whispers brought to you by the wind in the trees. Hear the songs of the plants, the birds, and the bees. What is being said? 

What do you hear stirring within you? 

For the love of plants, 

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Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows