Orange Sugar Cider Recipe

We are getting close to the spirit times of Samhain, Halloween, and Dia de los Muertos. I blend all of these traditions together and usually have an altar dedicated to those friends, families, and pets that have passed away. I will also dress up (usually concepts or themes, not something specific), eat dead bread, and drink hot apple cider.

I love this week because it’s also when I bust out my warm winter spices. I can finally indulge in cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger without odd looks from those with a warm constitution. I begin to eat more butternut squash and pumpkin, and think of all the ways I can ingest the color orange.

One of my favorite recipes is to make orange sugar (thank you Greg & Elaine!). It’s super easy, just grate the peel of a few tangerines or oranges and mix evenly with coconut or raw sugar. The sugar becomes tinged with orange and it makes a delicious addition to any pie, latte, or hot tea. I love to add it to my hot spiced cider too!

Orange Sugar Cider

4 cups of Apple Cider

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Nutmeg

1/4 tsp Cloves 

Gently simmer all ingredients for 15 minutes. Take off heat and add 2 tsp of the orange peel sugar. Strain out herbs if you didn’t use powdered. Enjoy a mug of spiced cider by a warm fireplace or cuddled up with a loved one.

For the love of plants,

 cropped-jess-plant-bath

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Somehow all the craziness of the last few weeks has finally left my body and I am starting to feel “normal” again. Right now, “normal” means I have hours where I don’t feel panicked or despair. I am sleeping pretty well again and I don’t believe we are all going to hell in a hand basket. At least not today.

When my anxiety rises I’ve noticed all of my self-care techniques and advice to my clients go out the window. It’s like I don’t know what herbs and oils I need to be in balance. I am great at doing this for others, but not always for myself. I finally got enough distance from it to remember what I need to do.

  1. Breathe! It sounds obvious but it’s not. I have finally been taking deep breaths and it feels great! 
  2. Drink herbal tea! Again, sounds easy enough but when I’m stressed I go for black tea instead of nourishing nervines. My favorite this week (and every week)- skullcap and oat straw.
  3. Sniff essential oils! Not straight out of the bottle necessarily, but I’ve been using my diluted roll-ons. This week my go-to’s have been St. John’s Wort, Hemp, and Frankincense. My mood has improved and I have a much brighter outlook on life. 
  4. Walk in the woods. Or sit on the beach. Or go into nature and just be. You will feel wonderful. And you’ll breathe better!

For the love of plants,

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

Autumn Ritual Tonic

autumn-let-go

In Chinese medicine fall is associated with the metal element. Each element has several correspondences like seasons, colors, organ systems, and spiritual entities. For metal the organ systems are the lungs and large intestine and the entity is the corporeal soul, or Po. Our Po is housed in the lungs and is a dense energy that manifests as pride, envy, greed, shame, guilt, or negative judgments when the metal element is out of balance. When we are tormented by feelings of resentment for ourselves or others, this is our Po acting out.

During fall many people also notice the arise of unresolved grief or sadness. Grief also settles in the lungs and can be felt this time of year. I always think of friends and family that are no longer here. I do rituals to honor their life and their passing.

Autumn is the season of letting go of what no longer is and what shall never be again. It is the season of impermanence and acceptance. I have trouble with that sometimes and I find my Po dwelling on the past or I become full of fear and doubt. What helps me is to make nourishing medicine that will strengthen my Qi and ground and calm my Po. I love this grounding root and bark blend. The herbs in this tea strengthen and nourish and bring me back to center. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Autumn Ritual Tonic

2 astragalus roots (Huang Qi)- strengthens lung qi

2 pieces mimosa bark (He Huan Pi)- calms spirit, moves qi

2 rolls of cinnamon bark (Rou Gui)- warms interior, benefits gate of fire

2 burdock roots (Niu Bang Gen)- nutritive, strengthens lungs and digestion

Rinse roots and bark. In a stainless steel or glass pot, simmer plant material in one quart of spring water for 20-30 minutes. Strain herbs and set aside to make another batch. Sip warm tea throughout the day to feel nourished and calm.  

For the love of plants,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Transforming Fear into Wisdom

I have been frustrated and fearful lately. Frustrated at our political system, upset about humanity’s disregard for life, and angry with myself for the insecurities that hold me back from living my truth. I am afraid that we have taken our consumption and greed too far. I fear we have done irreparable damage to the planet. I fear that the one in five plants that are becoming extinct are warning signs for human survival. I mourn the devastating loss of countless species that have perished because of our unrelenting desire for power. I mourn humanity and our genocide of countless other life forms.

There are many days that I don’t know what to do with these thoughts and feelings. At times I can push through and think that the planet is equipped with ways to deal with our destruction. In other moments I am hopeful that we will gain an unyielding understanding of what needs to be done to reverse global climate change and evolve into a more enlightened, compassionate species.

Most of the time I remain realistic and know that the Earth will prevail much longer than the human race. We are but one species in a long line of beings that have come and gone before us. Our damage may be irreparable to us, but life will live on. I am grateful for that. It is enough to keep me peaceful in our violent world.

It is with the love of my husband, family, and friends that I have the courage to acknowledge these personal truths. It is in my women’s circle and at herbal gatherings that I gain the clarity to move beyond emotion and into action. It is Nature herself that gives me the strength to carry on and to share to my thoughts with you.

I am grateful for my knowledge of herbalism and the deep connection I have with the Earth and her cycles. Despite my fears I will continue to be strong. I will be a voice for the plants and I will spread as much love as I can . I will continue to share the innate wisdom of plants with anyone that will listen. I will overcome my fears of being misunderstood, dismissed, or ridiculed for believing a different paradigm is possible. I wish the same for you.

For the love of plants,

 cropped-jess-plant-bath

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Harvest Moon Elixir Recipe

Happy Harvest Moon!! May the fruits of your love be blessed with abundance and joy!

I love the Harvest Moon so much that my husband and I chose to be married ten years ago on the date of the Harvest Moon, the first full moon after the Autumn Equinox. We had a private ceremony on the cliffs above Luffenholtz Beach, the first place we went when we moved to Humboldt County twenty years ago. Two decades later our love burns bright.

To celebrate our love for each other and for harvest season I want to share one of my favorite recipes with you. Harvest flowers under the light of the full moon. If you are using dried flowers, prepare the elixir outside. If you have a significant other, harvest and prepare elixir together.

Harvest Moon Elixir

1 bundle of yarrow flowers

2 wild roses

2 organic cannabis buds

Place flowers in a clean, glass quart jar. Fill jar with fresh spring water and cover with a lid. Place jar in a location where the full moon is in sight and can infuse the elixir throughout the night. In the morning, strain out flowers and sip infusion throughout the day. Share with the one you love the most.

For the love of plants,

cropped-jess-plant-bath

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Photo credit: Chrystalinks

 

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, 

cropped-jess-plant-bath

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

Infused Oil for Irritated Skin

As the leaves begin to fall and the energy of the plants go from making seeds to concentrating in the roots I think about some of the herbs that are harvested this time of year. When you harvest the roots, the plants aren’t able to grow back the following year so it is important to use other parts of the plant if possible. If the plant takes years to flower or grow, don’t take the roots at all if there is another plant you can use instead. If you can, get your root medicine from organic farmers instead of from wild crafted sources. It is up to us to ensure enough medicinal plants for future generations.

Some plants, like burdock and dandelion, grow easily and abundantly and are highly medicinal so they are a great choice if you want to make root medicine. Burdock and dandelion roots are great in a decoction (simmer roots in water for 15-20 minutes), but I also like to infuse them in olive oil to soothe red irritated skin. External use of herbs can be just as important as internal use, remember your skin is your largest organ!

Soothe Skin Oil

Herbs for oil: dandelion and burdock roots, add comfrey root and leaves, calendula flowers, rose buds, plantain leaves, nettles, lemon balm, and/or myrrh gum 

Use dried or wilted leaves, flowers, and roots to avoid the oil from molding.

Fill a clean dry jar 3/4 full of plant material and cover completely with olive, avocado or apricot kernel oil. Make sure the oil is at least 1″ higher than the plant material. Stir mixture and tightly close the lid on the jar.

Place jar in a sunny, warm windowsill and shake at least once a day.

After 2-3 weeks strain the herbs from the oil using a cheesecloth or thin muslin. Squeeze way more than you think you should. You’ll be surprised at how much oil is left in the plants once you start straining.

Pour oil into clean, dry bottles and store in a cool dark place. The oil should last a year. Add Vitamin E to prolong the shelf life of the oil. 

Use infused oil on red, irritated skin or add to bath water for a relaxing soothing bath.

For the love of plants,

cropped-jess-plant-bath

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Subscribe to The Herb Walk Podcast!

The first season of The Herb Walk Podcast is a wrap! My dream of sharing my love of herbalism and aromatherapy has been brought to light through this podcast. I’m stoked to have had the opportunity to interview herbalists Brigitte Mars, Mindy Green, Lisa Ganora, Monticue Connelly, Amanda Klenner, and Julie Caldwell. We discussed the importance of conservation, plant spirit medicine, what you can do to further your herbal knowledge, the future of cannabis medicine, and so much more. Whether you want a formal herbal education or are interested in making herbal products for yourself and loved ones, The Herb Walk Podcast has something for you.

Season two will bring more interviews with renowned herbalists and aromatherapists, real talk about the pros and cons of the burgeoning cannabis industry, what you can do to be a steward of the land (hint…grow your own organic herbs), and my experience at Refugio Altiplano, an ayahuasca retreat center deep in the heart of the Amazon jungle.

If you know of an herbalist, aromatherapist, or herb farmer that would like to be featured, drop me a line and I’d be happy to have them on season two. If you haven’t subscribed to The Herb Walk Podcast, do so today on iTunes and Stitcher

For the love of plants,

Jessica

Autumnal Equinox Blend

Tomorrow is the Autumnal Equinox, one of my favorite days of the year. There is something about equal day and night that brings balance to my ever changing moods. This year, more than most, I feel we need a sense of balance. We need to remember the importance of equality, duality, harmony.

Today’s recipe is very simple. Two herbs that represent yin yang, day and night, sun and moon. May we honor the light and the dark that resides within us all. May we be illuminated by our own courage to see the beauty in ourselves so we can finally recognize it in everyone else!

Autumnal Equinox Blend

3 drops St. John’s Wort essential oil

2 drops Night blooming Jasmine essential oil

10 ml Organic Apricot kernel oil

Pour apricot kernel oil into a 10 ml roll-on glass bottle. Add essential oils to carrier oil and shake gently. Apply to areas of the chakras to feel the balance of light and dark. 

With love,

Jessica 

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