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.
Remember to Subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode! I also just uploaded an episode of The Real Dirt with Chip Baker, where I’m asked about the truth behind the misconceptions of Cannabis sativa and indica. Next week’s blog I’ll share my thoughts on MJBizCon and a post I wrote for The Real Dirt blog going into more depth about the origins of Cannabis. I think you may be surprised!
I am still beaming from my weekend at the Red Earth Herbal Gathering. It will be hard to explain the myriad of emotions I felt as opened myself to gathering with women with the intention for ritual and healing, but I will try. I will describe my experiences if not for personal catharsis, then to entice you to join us next year.
I arrived at Peaceful Meadows Retreat early on Friday morning because I was in charge
of the Wellness tent and needed to set up before attendees came. I was given a shaded area near Registration and right beside the Kid Village. As I unpacked my supplies, I could feel the relaxed, joyful energy of the land and it infused me instantly. I knew deep healing would take place in this sacred place.
As women and children arrived and registered, the Sacred Gateway opened and we were all smudged and cleared with floral water as entered the doorway. Once inside, we burnt our worries and fears and wrote our intentions on fabric to link together with other peoples dreams and wishes. At the end of the entryway, we were greeted by women who offered us henna tattoos, card readings, and aromatic spritzers and elixirs. By the time I made it through the gateway I felt elated and rooted simultaneously. I glided to my campsite on the far edge of the large pond and watched geese take off and land.
Opening Circle was Saturday morning in the meadow near the Red Tent and the Womb Room. Teachers, volunteers, and sponsors were introduced so I spoke about my class, Rooted in Integrity: Working with Essential Oils and the free services we were offering at the Wellness tent. Besides basic first-aid, we had tinctures and elixirs for menstrual cramps, allergies, coughs, and emotional support. I offered tuning fork treatments for a few hours on Saturday afternoon, which was well received by recipients and so healing and fun for me.
I was only able to catch part of the keynote speaker, Lorene Wapotich, on Friday night. Her talk on creating sacred space and ritual resonated with us all. Because of Wellness duties, teaching, and relaxing by the pond with my friend Willow (and her 3-year old daughter Athena), I only attended a couple of classes the entire weekend. Saturday morning I chose to listen to Ann Drucker teach on Maya Spiritual Healing with Plants. I experienced her teachings last year at Red Earth, so I knew I wanted to be in her presence again. As I had hoped, we gave each other limpias, plant brushings and plant baths. We called in the Maya spirits with plants and chocolate, prayed over each other, and laughed and cried all our cares away.
Saturday night Shaela Noella led a song circle around the campfire. One by one women went around the fire and sang whatever they desired. Bethy Love Light, conscious hip hop artist, performed some songs and many women led songs that were call and response or sing-along. All were beautifully performed. I am still in awe of all the talent by the fire that night. When it was my turn I gathered the courage to sing a song I wrote earlier this summer. It is to the tune of Let It Be and is my devotional to Mother Nature. It felt good (and scary) to stand and sing in front of friends and strangers.
Before I taught my essential oil class on Sunday morning, I attended the Green Tent, an offering from Rachael Carlevale of Ganjasana. The Green Tent is a combination of of yoga, ganja, and ceremony. Rachael is wonderful and her class was the perfect way to start the day.
For my class I chose to teach about how important it is to use essential oils sparingly and reverently. Most of the women in the class didn’t know about sandalwood being harvested to extinction or how much plant material it takes to make very little essential oil (roses are an extreme example, but it takes 20-50 rosesto make 1 drop of rose essential oil!)
I always teach that herbal teas, oils, and tinctures should be the first line of defense, and
then use essential oils when stronger medicine is needed. Essential oils should not be used for every scrape and ailment, not only because of developing oversensitivity to the oils, but because the planet’s resources cannot sustain the current trend of essential oil use. I encourage students that use essential oils for aromatherapy massage to dilute essential oils in carrier oil before applying to the skin. To ensure that essential oils from plants like cedar wood, sandalwood, and even lavender, are around for future generations, we must dilute our essential oils and cease the practice of “neat” application. The students in the class were thankful for educating them about the environmental impacts of large-scale essential oil production and they left class with alternatives for essential oils when working with aromatic plants (incense, aromatic steams, fresh flowers, infused oils).
After my class, it was time for the Red TentInitiation, led by Ixeeya Lin and Astrid Grove. The Red Tent is a place where women gather to give and receive wisdom. Also called the Moon Lodge, the Red Tent was traditionally where menstruating women gathered during their moon time. In offering this space, the facilitators of Red Earth did not necessarily seek to recreate the traditions of other times/cultures, rather they wanted to create space within our present reality to honor the sanctity of women’s experience of menarche, menstruation and menopause.
Outside of the Red Tent, we lined up from oldest to youngest and as snake women began shedding our skins as we spiral danced into a circle. As we entered the tent, we were brushed with plants, smudged and welcomed into the sacred womb. I won’t describe the rituals performed in the Red Tent because they were intensely personal, sad, powerful, and healing. I left feeling more rooted and secure in myself than I have in many months. Joy surged through me as I remembered my own divinity.
Everyone was over-stimulated, full, grateful, and exhausted, so Closing Circle was short and sweet on Sunday afternoon. I finished packing up my campsite and Wellness tent. I was filled to the brim with joy and relaxation, deeply grateful for the power of women healing together, and eager to see my husband again.
Please join us next year at the Red Earth Herbal Gathering! We would love to share these healing practices with you.
The last few few weeks have been a whirlwind for me. I’ve traveled from California to Colorado, back to California and now to the Yucatan Peninsula. I guess I am feeling the stirrings of spring more than the deep retreat of winter.
With all of this moving around I have been trying to stay healthy, balanced, and sane. I’m doing my best- despite mega viruses, crowds, and societal drama. Besides my daily yoga/qi gong practice, drinking tons of water, and washing my hands like a maniac, I really give credit to my plant allies for playing a huge role.
I don’t leave home without at least one of my aromatic essence blends. My favorite one right now is a blend of Night Blooming Jasmine and White Sage essential oils in a carrier of Calendula infused Apricot kernel Oil. Divine! It keeps me clear and grounded- much needed in all my transitions.
What oils or herbs do you use to help you in times of change? If you aren’t sure, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and see what plant first comes to mind. More than likely, this is who you need in your life. Trust your intuition. You know what is best for you.
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!
So far I have scathed off any of the flus and viruses that are floating around the United States. On the plane from Denver to San Francisco, I was the masked person on the flight. Although I got many weird looks, I felt empowered taking my deep breaths as people coughed and sniffled around me, including the guy to my right.
In my cloth mask (thanks Willow!), I applied a diluted blend of holy basil, eucalyptus radiata, douglas fir, and pine. I also tried not to touch anything and I washed my hands religiously. That is the best I could do on a plane, but in the winter I rotate a daily preventative tea that is full of Vitamin C and antioxidants that will strengthen my immune system. This tea is not only nutritious, it’s also delicious!
Winter Wellness Tea
2 tbsp Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
2 tbsp Rose hips (Rosa centifolia)
1 tbsp Citrus peel (Citrus reticulata)
1 inch piece of fresh Ginger (Zingiber offinicale)
Gently boil all ingredients in 16 ounces of water for 15 minutes in a covered pot. Strain out herbs and set aside for a second boiling. Cover and boil herbs with another 8 ounces of water for 15 minutes. Drink up to 4 cups a day as needed to prevent colds and flu. Stay well!
Simmer Hawthorn berries and Cinnamon in 2-3 cups water for at least 5 minutes. Turn heat off and steep Milky Oats for at least 5 minutes. Add Sage the last 1-2 minutes of the steep. Strain herbs and drink 1/2 cup of tea per serving. Feel the herbs move through out your body and observe any sensations that may arise.
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.
Yesterday was National Cocoa Day, and although I didn’t know that was a “thing” I am always happy to sit down and enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
Here is my go-to recipe for an aromatically spiced hot chocolate.
Aromatic Spice Cocoa Love
8 ounces of organic almond or coconut milk
1-2 heaping tablespoons of organic, fair trade cocoa powder or chocolate sauce
1/8-1/4 teaspoon organic powdered cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon organic powdered nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried organic rose petals
Warm the almond milk and stir in cocoa powder, cinnamon and nutmeg until milk powders are well blended. Turn off heat and steep rose petals for a couple of minutes. Strain out petals and pour cocoa into your favorite mug. Extra points for dunking in your favorite cookie!
December is here already and I am as shocked as everyone else. I’m back in Denver and the nights are cold and windy. There isn’t any snow in the city and I hate to say that I am glad!
I can hear people sniffling and coughing around me as I’m out and about. It’s a good reminder to keep my immunity strong! Small things like washing your hands frequently (many people don’t wash door handles or light switches) and eating nutrient dense foods like soups and stews will be a big help in staving off other people’s germs.
I also drink elderberry tea every morning, switching up the other ingredients depending on what I have going on.
My 3 favorite Elderberry blends:
1 tsp Elderberries, 1 tsp Hawthorn berries, 2 inch piece of Citrus peel – I make this on those days of over-indulgence, where there may just be a cookie or two enjoyed
1 tsp Elderberries, 1 tsp Yarrow flowers, 1 tsp Peppermint– This is my go-to when I begin to feel that chill or fever coming on and I need to kick it out
1 tsp Elderberries, 1 tsp Rose petals, 1 inch piece of Citrus peel– This is my base tea on most days. I drink as is or add an herb or two that is calling me that day.
Steep herbs in 8 ounces of hot water for 15 minutes. Strain and drink while warm.
I’d love to hear what herbs you like with elderberry!