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 

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,

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Jessica

Supporting Community

These days it is way to easy to disregard our feelings as some of us are overly sensitive about Everything! The news and social media have infiltrated all of our lives- and we are having trouble processing it all.

Some of us get to take a break from the real (and alternate) news, but inevitably it is going to affect us all. Turning off your computer, going on a walk in nature, playing music- all are super important to keep us sane and balanced with all the sensory overload.

What is even more important is helping out your community in whatever way that works for you. If it’s donating your time to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen- that’s awesome! If it’s hosting free or donation based yoga, acupuncture, herbal classes- that’s great!

You know what may be even better. Actually looking at your neighbors in the eye, saying hello, asking if they want to have a cup of tea, helping them bring in their groceries….the list goes on and on.

If you don’t have the energy to be active in your community, be a good neighbor and engage with those that live around you. It only takes a couple of minutes to let them know you are here if they need you.

With love,

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Jessica

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Happy New Year of the Yin Fire Hen!

For many, 2016, the  year of the Yang Fire Monkey was a little too disruptive. Too many unexpected events, deaths, and political outcomes left us mentally and emotionally exhausted. The mischievous Monkey is finally behind us and we’ve moved into the more trustworthy Yin Fire Hen.

Being a Fire year, there is still a potential for a fanning of the flames, but the Hen is more

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loyal and courageous. With Hen dominating the show, we are sure to see more civil unrest and uprising as patriarchal ideals of sexism, racism and bigotry continue to be challenged. Change may move slower than some of us want, but the Yin nature of the year will help deter burnout, which can occur when our Fire rages out of control. The Yin Hen reminds us to nest, reserve our energy so we can be there for ourselves, our family, and our community when the time comes.

With the rights and equality of women being recognized once again, I am seeing the patriarchy that has molded and shaped our cultures and how it is ingrained in every aspect of our lives. I have purposely used the female Hen instead of the male Rooster. Yin is attributed to the female, so I am honoring matriarchy and every one that identifies with the female energy and dedicating this year to us!

May the reality we create be of benefit to all. May our passion be fueled into love and compassion action.

With love,

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Jessica

 

Turn Intentions into Action

It has been years since I’ve written out new years resolutions or intentions. I’ve had them of course-goals and aspirations that I work towards and start to feel guilty about if I don’t achieve them. This year I am done with this type of thinking. I am going to be kinder to myself. I beat myself up way too much and I’m beginning to notice the impact it has on my psyche and my health. I also notice how my negative self-talk effects those around me.

If I judge myself for every little thing- dirty dishes, unmopped floor- then of course that perception is going to spill out to those I love. It also means I’m going to judge the important decisions in my life too- my book should be done, my essential oil products should be out by now, I should teach more, see more clients…etc. Instead of degrading myself I’m going to celebrate the act of doing. I’m going to credit myself for just having the courage to write, create, teach. And I call in the strength and community to help me with the things I can’t accomplish alone.

We can’t do it alone. We need our friends, family, and community to help us achieve our goals and keep our intentions. Surround yourself with those that really support you.Your setbacks and your successes will be championed by those that love you. Be gentle with yourself-but also put yourself out there, go out on a limb, ride that edge-the rewards are infinite!

With love,

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Jessica

When energy flows, wellness grows

Photo credit: Getty Images

The Future is in Your Presence

I’ve heard countless people say they can’t wait for 2016 to be over. The deaths of so many legends (too numerous to name, but I will have a blog honoring those I hold dear) and the astonishingly eye-opening presidential race, left us all a little worse for wear. Disillusioned, we are all looking towards 2017 with anticipation, reluctance, and a lot of wishful thinking.

If we expect 2017 to be better than this year, we have got to become active members of our community. No amount of blogging, signing petitions or reposting on Facebook is going to be enough. The only thing that is going to heal this world is to re-connect personally with those in our everyday lives. It’s easy to engage with someone via social media, where you can get dressed, make coffee and hit the like button all at the same time. This shallow attempt at connection is inadequate at a time when we really need each other. I encourage you take the time to sit down with someone, look them in the eye and say with truth and conviction, “I see you, I honor you, I’m here for you.”

I have to transform the intense anger I’ve been harboring about the political and group-healingenvironmental future into something positive. I’ve decided to direct my fear and anguish into community action. As soon as I find a space in my 5 Points neighborhood I am going to host free herb classes on healing trauma. I feel a strong need to heal my own wounds through sharing my love of herbalism and Chinese medicine.  In time I hope I  can also include free community acupuncture to those that need it most. I haven’t had the opportunity to offer community acupuncture clinics since I moved to Denver and I miss it!

Words cannot describe the energy of  group healing. It will be an honor to share this space with all of you. It will be an offering of peaceful transformation, where fear can turn into strength and anger into compassion. A place where we make the world better one person at a time.

May the last few days of 2016 be full of peace and rest, so that 2017 may be one of compassionate action.

With love,

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Jessica

Photo credit: Facebook