This is not the 420 any of us expected to have in 2020. At my dispensary (which I temporarily closed down during the stay at home order in OKC), it was supposed to be 420 all month long! Daily specials with people in and out. April hasn’t been the party us cannabis enthusiasts wanted it to be, but there is still much to celebrate. Like our health!
Instead of gathering together and puffing tuff, many of us are alone or only with those we live with. Technology has become more of our friend, as it brings us closer to friends and family with Zoom, FaceTime, and of course, Podcasts.
I had the pleasure of speaking with my long time friend, Greg Davidson. Greg is a cannabis connoisseur, grower, and advocate. He has used medical cannabis since 1984 when he became paralyzed from a car accident. Greg also beat cancer in 2018 using a well rounded approach of allopathic and herbal medicine, cannabis, appropriate foods and a heroic strength of character. We discuss his experiences as a cannabis user and medical patient over the last few decades as stigmas against cannabis has shifted.
My interview with Greg happened before COVID19 shut down the US. Our conversation about gathering at cannabis events and being at trim scenes brings a smile to my face. I am reminded of how wonderful it is to be with family, friends and those we love. I look forward to 4-20-2021 where we will gather again.
Until then, roll it up, sit back and enjoy this episode of The Herb Walk with Jessica Baker! If you feel inspired, Subscribe, leave a review and share with your friends.
We all feel it. The collective unease that ebbs and flows with news reports and new cases. The unknown that lies ahead as we see what our country and others do in order to prepare for sweeping changes that are necessary right now. There are some things you can do right now to make yourself feel more calm.
Seven Steps to Staying Centered
1. Take a Deep Breath
Seriously. It’s the first thing you need to do to start releasing tension in your mind and body. Breathe.
2. Acknowledge Your Emotions
Whatever they are, know that these feelings are at least partially fueling your thoughts and actions. These emotions are going to be your strength and your weakness as you adapt to the necessary changes that are coming in the days and months ahead.
3. Breathe Again
Breathe again. Breathe deeply and slowly this time. Drop your shoulders and take a deep belly breath.
4. Be Prepared To Stay At Home More
We have to accept that we need to limit exposure to those over 60 and those without strong immune systems. Top researchers are predicting 1.5 million Americans could die from COVID-19 in the next year. How we live and move in the world is going to change, probably for longer than we are comfortable with.
Stock up on water and non-perishable items, but do not hoard. Have on hand enough food for several weeks, if not longer. You will be surprised what a little extra food in the pantry can do for your psyche. Think canned- fruits, vegetables, soup and tuna. I am in rural Oklahoma currently and I was surprised how many inexpensive organic options I found at the local Walmart. Much less expensive than Whole Foods or Sprouts, and no one was buying the organic things anyway.
5. Be Creative With Your Time
Have books and crafts as fun and distractions instead of always using the Internet as your only outlet. Social media does bring a sense of community, but there is also a lot of misinformation and fear spreading, which is counterproductive to staying calm. Grab that dusty guitar out of the closet and start playing again. Play cards and board games. Do arts and crafts. Stretch, do Qi Gong, Dance. Remember what it is like to be entertained and feel connected without a screen.
6. Call Your Friends and Family
Don’t text them. Call them. Tell them you miss and love them. FaceTime or Skype them if you need a visual check-in. Laugh and Cry with them. Breathe together.
7. Help Others and Ask For Help
There are many people that can’t afford to stock up on extra food or buy first-aid supplies. Many cities have programs to support those in need. Find out where drop-off centers are in your area and encourage your friends, family, and church members to each donate something. Big or small it will make a difference in someone’s life.
If you are one of those people in need. Ask for help. Whether it’s for extra groceries or just a quick call to tell you it’s going to be ok. Reach out. There is no shame or guilt in asking for help. It takes courage and wisdom to know when you can’t do it alone. Reach out.
There are resources like The Grief Support Network, which is offering free grief circles every day for the next few weeks. They also have a free Peer Support Program if you need mentor support. If you have the experience and feel called, become a mentor for someone grieving.
No act of kindness is too small in stressful times. We are all in this together, even if we are encouraged to stand 3 feet apart!
I feel a need to stay more connected too. Expect more blog posts from me, from everything from how to make your own sanitizers and cleaners to how to support yourself and others with herbal medicine in this time of uncertainty.
For now, drink your herbal tea breathe, and smile at people. We all need it.
PS: My new podcast episode with Astrid Grove of the Red Earth Herbal Gathering will be out around Spring Equinox!
I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by how quickly the year has gone by. I am not where I imagined myself to be by the end of 2019. Since my timeline projections for opening the Bakers Medical dispensary have not been achieved, I find myself anxious with the nearing of December. I also thought I would feel more settled in Oklahoma and be farther along with the formulation of my Baker Botanica herbal products. My attitude towards these displeasures has intensified with each passing day.
There is a cliché about time going by faster as you age. I would have agreed with you last week when I was rushing around from one task to the next. Then on Friday I broke my toe. I was moving too fast, not paying attention, lifting a heavy object, and WHAM! Broke my right big toe.
Time doesn’t move nearly as fast when I’m laid up on the couch, only able to accomplish tasks that can be done by computer or phone. No pacing the office, walking back and forth from the office to the dispensary, making tea when my heart desires. My mind, once unsettled with thoughts of “too much to do” has become disturbed in a different way. The reality that I have to stay seated to ensure my toe will heal quickly is an affront to my mental state.
Which makes me remember that I haven’t been exercising enough. Now that I can’t put any weight on my foot, I have the overwhelming urge to run, jump rope, do plank, anything but sit around. What I really need to do is chill, breathe, meditate, and drink my herbal tea.
Once my Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) arrives I will make a poultice and put it on my foot to speed the healing of the broken bone. If you’re interested on how to make a poultice, check out my Youtube video.
The word symphytum is derived from sympho, “I grow together.” Comfrey is commonly called knitbone and I look forward to experiencing her medicine first hand. Over the years I have used Comfrey many times in salves and I like to add it to digestive teas. In recent years, the internal use of Comfrey has declined to containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids, but I will still add it to a tea blend if the anti-inflammatory benefits of knitbone are required.
For now, I’m going to accept my limitations of movement and be grateful for the opportunity to slow down.
While you’re slowing down, enjoy this interview with Mindy Green, aromatherapist and herbalist, from Season One of The Herb Walk.
In the last month we have had Denver decriminalize psilocybin and Oakland decriminalized a slew of entheogens including psilocybin, ayahuasca and ibogaine.
This is a win for freedom of choice of medicine! I can only hope our minds and hearts are expanded with the reverent use of these ancient substances. It is apparent that we have a serious mental health crisis in our country. May the gifts of the earth prove to be the remedy we all need.
In honor of the new laws I am re-releasing my interview with Kelly Green of Refugio Altiplano, a wellness center in the heart of the Amazon jungle. Our discussion includes the mission of Refugio Altiplano to help preserve the 1,200 acres that surround the center. Kelly also has a gofundme to help purchase 500 of those acres that are in danger of being sold to companies that want to cut the forest to grow cacao and other crops. If you feel called to support, please pitch in as you can!
Sit back, partake in your entheogen of choice, and enjoy this episode of The Herb Walk with Jessica Baker.
Please leave a review so others can find the podcast easier!
We all know Hemp is everywhere. Thank goddess! Hemp Hemp Hurray! Decades of prohibition is lifting as we see Cannabis spread across the continent. I also see the old guards fighting back every way they can, redirecting their hatred of the feminine with their arcane abortion laws (that’s a different post- which I will get to once I have a more creative outlet for my anger!)
Today I celebrate Cannabis instead. In this interview with Jessica Bates, of Moon Mother Hemp, we discuss her full spectrum hemp product line, where she uses her knowledge and love of herbalism to fuel her highly sought after hemp products.
We talk about the importance of using full spectrum hemp, as opposed to just CBD distillate or isolate, as is common with most products on the market. At Moon Mother Hemp, the difference is that cannabis is incorporated into tried and true herbal formulas, enhancing their effect with the full spectrum oil. Cannabis is not the only medicinal plant, as in most products.
What I love about Jessica is that she is an herbalist and talks about Rose, Calendula, and Nettles with as much reverence as she does Cannabis. Like me, her connection to plants runs deeper than the newest fad.
Listen to the latest episode of The Herb Walk with Jessica Baker and let me know what you think! Please leave a review so others can find me on iTunes and Subscribe to stay up to date on new releases.
If you haven’t been to my website lately, check out my new offerings!
I have never been into Valentine’s Day. Never will be. Don’t give a shit. And I have been in a very loving, supportive relationship with my husband for over twenty years. I just don’t buy into Hallmark holidays that revolve around buying more plastic or sugary crap for your loved ones (didn’t we get enough of that at Christmas?!)
For those that don’t feel like me, Valentine’s can be hard. It is another reminder of your loneliness from not having someone to share your life with. Or it could be that you are in a relationship that is abusive or just not serving your highest purpose. Valentine’s can stir up all kinds of emotions for us.
As always, plants are there for us.
3 Ways to Avoid the Valentine’s Funk (Herbalist style)
1.Eat Chocolate, Lots of Chocolate
The darker the better. If it has Rose petals, Raspberry filling, or is dipped on Strawberries- Do it! Rose soothes a broken heart and anything red in color is beneficial to the heart channel and the fire element, which is the element of passion, creativity, and joy.
2.Drink Herbal Tea
Nutritive herbs like Milky Oats, Skullcap, and Rose petals help keep you relaxed, while reminding you that you are supported and loved. Just add a teaspoon or two of dried herbs to 1 cup of hot water, steep for at least 10 minutes and then enjoy! TIP: Chocolate is a wonderful accompaniment to chocolate and will mellow out the richness of the dark chocolate.
3. Phone a Friend
This is Huge, especially today when we often text instead of call someone. Hearing a friend’s voice can do wonders for the soul when you’re feeling alone or isolated. If you have friends like mine, laughter is sure to follow- and we all know laughter is The best medicine.
As for me tonight I won’t be out at a romantic dinner or welcomed home from work with (chemical laden) roses. I will be happily at home, with my husband, not celebrating Valentine’s Day, but eating chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.
This episode of The Herb Walk Podcast is very close to my heart. I have had the pleasure of being friends with Kelly Green, COO of Refugio Altiplano, for almost 15 years. We met as neighbors on a 5 acre piece of land outside Watsonville, California when I was a graduate student at Five Branches University. Who knew all these years later he would be the proprietor of Refugio Altiplano, a Natural Healing Medicine Center in the Amazon jungle in Peru.
Kelly’s first trip to Peru 18 years ago led him to Iquitos and unknowingly, Refugio Altiplano. A random encounter at a cafe got him on a boat with a stranger and a lifelong connection to the river, land and people began. Kelly met Jose Huanaquiri, a Mestizo Ayahuascero that is the true custodian of Refugio, on that very first visit and now they share a heartfelt friendship.
As “medical” and ayahuasca tourism becomes more popular there is also a lot of concern and controversy. Unstable guests are permitted to sit in ceremony even when shamans or staff are concerned about their mental stability. There have been some very unfortunate incidents, including the murder of a well-known and respected female shaman who tried to get the murderer arrested by Peruvian police multiple times before he shot her.
People are not going to stop going to the Amazon to drink ayahuasca, and this is why it is so important that there are places like Refugio Altiplano. Guests are required to fill out a medical form prior to attending and Kelly and Jose will reject people that do not meet their criteria (many centers don’t reject anyone that has the money to pay). Refugio has a strict policy regarding inappropriate guests and once escorted back to Iquitos, they are not allowed back at the center for any reason. Holding a safe and sacred space for guests is always paramount at Refugio, as they understand the depth of healing that has the potential to occur.
The staff at Refugio are highly regarded for their compassion and understanding for the experiences the guests are having. The warmth and tenderness that everyone from the guards, to the women in the kitchen, to the shamans, is genuine. They are all available to guests to help with anything you need. The kinship and love that flows from them, from the jungle, from the river, will permeate your soul and stay with you forever.
If you or someone you know is interested in ayahuasca or traveling to Peru, share this episode so they can learn more. I suggest listening in a hot damp room surrounding by the sounds of insects to help set the Amazon vibe. If you’ve got mosquitos, even better.
Brrrrrrr…a cold, wet storm has been hovering over Colorado for the last few days. The leaves have turned, and I see the squirrels scurry around preparing for the coming Winter, I have been wearing my scarf and gloves, but for the first time since I moved to Denver, I am not lamenting the coming cold.
I am excited to make more oatmeal congees, where I will add butter and honey, cinnamon, ginger, jujube dates, and citrus peel. I look forward to big pots of beans and stewed roots. I will have early nights of reading by dimmed lights, with a warm cup of herbal tea by my side. Just writing about it makes me want to cuddle up with a good book.
I’ve been drinking a really delicious tea lately and it is perfect for not only warming heart and soul on cold nights, it is also full of flavonoids and proanthocyanidins, which have shown to fight infections and reduce effects of colds and flu. I drink a couple of cups each morning, but you can have up to a quart a day if you so desire.
Elder Rose Immuni-Tea
2 ounces dried Elderberries (Sambucus nigra)
2 ounces dried Citrus peel (Citrus reticulata) organic or unsprayed; I use mandarin or tangerine peels
1/2 ounce dried Red Rose petals (Rosa centifola) organic or unsprayed
1/2 ounce dried Milky Oats (Avena sativa)
1/4 ounce dried Nettle leaf (Urtica dioica)
Mix all ingredients together and store in a glass jar in a cool, dark location. Use 2-3 tbsp of herbs per 2 cups of tea. Boil water and pour hot water over herbs for 10-20 minutes, cover with lid. Strain herbs and set aside to use one more time (if steeped for less than 20 minutes). Add honey if desired. Sip and feel the herbs nourish and strengthen your body, mind, and spirit.
My husband and I took a road trip to Tennessee for our 11th wedding anniversary (we celebrated our 11th year on the Harvest Moon). As we drove the thousand plus miles to Chattanooga, there were moments when I was overwhelmed with emotion at the beauty of our planet.
This was my first (I think) driving through Kansas, Missouri, and Kentucky. Growing up, we would drive back to Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida to visit family during our summer or holiday breaks, but I don’t remember going this way. I love a new adventure, and even miles and miles of farmland had me enthralled.
The changing of the seasons was palatable, with chilly nights and fallen leaves. With each new terrain, I gave thanks for the opportunity to witness the natural shifts that occur in nature, and within myself. Like a child, I saw everything with new eyes, in awe of the miracle of existence.
As I drove through sunflowers, cornfields, and hay bales I was inspired me to create a tea as pleasing as the journey east with the love of my life (and our hound dog, Alice).
Milky Silk Rose Tea
1/2 ounce dried Rose Petals, unsprayed- for loving life fully
1/2 ounce dried Milky Oats- for nourishing life
1/2 ounce dried Citrus Peel- for regulating energy
1/2 ounce dried Corn Silk- for remembering what’s really important
1/2 ounce dried Elderberries- for strengthening vitality
Mix all dried herbs together and store in a glass jar in a cool, dark place. Take 1 tbsp of herbs and steep in hot water for 10-15 minutes. Strain out herbs, sip, and think of what a wonder it is to be alive, right here, right now. What are you grateful for? How can you help others to see the miracle that is their life?
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.
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.
I am getting excited for the 3rd Annual Red Earth Herbal Gathering in Boulder, Colorado September 14-16! A weekend of gathering with women to honor the Earth, women, and myself is exactly what I need. I already hear the drum calling me into circle and beckoning me into the Red Tent.
The mission ofRed Earth Herbal Gathering is to be a sacred ceremonial container created by and for women to honor and activate our inherent life-nurturing power. We gather together to learn from and inspire each other through ceremony, workshops, deep healing and community building. By recognizing the beauty and power of what it is to be women doing our sacred work, our life’s calling, we step into our collective potential to support the great turning of our planet at this time. The gathering will other workshops, herb walks, kids classes, and a powerful Red Tent initiation
There are some amazing teachers and I am especially looking forward to seeing Ann Drucker speak on Maya spiritual healing plants, doing the WOMB dance with Ixeeya Lin, and practicing yoga with Rachael Caravale of Ganjasana, again this year. Since there are two nights of camping this year, we will have two nights by the fire with a song circle that is sure to bring out latent talent, laughter and tears! Oh how I can’t wait to be basking in that glow.
I will be teaching a class Sunday morning on the conscious use of essential oils entitled Rooted in Integrity: Working with Essential Oils. I will also be heading up the Wellness Area. Besides being a basic first aid station, Wellness will have some tinctures, essences, and elixirs for all to use throughout the weekend. Practitioners are welcome to offer massage, energy work, herbal consultations, or any other offering they would like to gift the other women at the gathering. I will have a couple of openings for Acutonics and Chinese tongue and pulse diagnosis and would love to talk herbs with anyone that wants to stop by!
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.
It is an auspicious day that I should have my5 Element Essential Oil Blendsavailable on the Full Moon in Capricorn! I feel like I have finally made it to the top of a mountain riddled with self-doubt and fear. I overcame it all and finally have my creations to offer the world! Please spread the word far and wide- we’re shifting the paradigm around essential oils!
I started Baker Botanicabecause I believe we need a sane, educated voice when it comes to essential oils. We need advocates for sustainability within the aromatherapy and herbal industries. We need opposing forces to the MLM companies that dominate the market and promote excessive and unsafe use of essential oils. One of the largest essential oil companies on the market, Young Living, just got a HUGE fine ($760,000) for illegal trafficking of rosewood oil and spikenard oil in violation of the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act (Check out the sentencing on the Department of Justice website). Is this really who should be at the top of of the essential oil industry? Are these the people who should educate on how to work with plants?!
I also created these seasonal solutions to honor the natural cycles of the cosmos according to Chinese Medicine. As the seasons shift, so do we. At times these shifts can be difficult or unsettling. The elemental blends are meant to help with the transition and the energy of each season. For example, Passion, is the blend I created for the Fire element. The Fire element corresponds to Summer, the color red (or pink), joy, passion, love, and creativity, the energies of the heart and pericardium,
If you need your passion flared or to find more joy in life, the Fire Element Blend was created for you.
May these oils bring you Clarity (Wood), Passion (Fire), Balance (Earth), Resolve (Metal), and Courage (Winter).
There is so much anger and grief in our society. The realities of inequality are undeniable and cause guilt and shame among those of us that are the privileged ones. If we are actively working towards equality and justice for all then there is no need for shame. If we are complacent in what is happening then we need to turn that guilt and shame into action so we can do our part in making the world a happier and safer place for all.
There’s a lot you can do like donate money (and more importantly time) to an organization that touches your heart. You can sign petitions, march in solidarity, and call your representatives. You can just be a good human and help those you see in need.
If these seem overwhelming, maybe you just need to start working with your herbal allies to give you the courage, strength, or energy to be an advocate for those in need.
Here are my three favorite herbs that help when I feel helpless or overwhelmed:
Reishi Mushroom– a strong decoction or lunar infusion is great to nourish the heart and calm the nervous system. Reishi helps you make clear and conscious decisions.
To make a decoction, place one medium sized Reishi (or 2-3 inch pieces) in one quart of water and simmer covered for 1-12 hours. The longer the decoction the more bitter the tea!
Rose– pretty much my go-to for anything that hurts my heart or brings me despair. A sun tea or infusion of Rose petals brings us back to a place of compassion and love
To make an infusion, place a handful of fresh or dried Rose petals in 16 ounces of water that has slightly cooled after boiling. Cover and steep the tea for up to 10 minutes. For a more delicate floral flavor, steep for only 3 minutes.
Pine(or any Conifer)- conifers activate the area of the third (first) eye and allows us to see beyond our own suffering.
To make an aromatic footbath steep a few Pine, Redwood and/or Fir needles in a large bowl of hot water and allow the aroma to fill the air. Pour out a cup to drink and use the rest of the water in an aromatic footbath. As you pour out the footbath water, wash away the anger, grief, shame, and guilt that prevent you from being an advocate for yourself or others.
Tomorrow is Solstice, the longest day of the year. A time to celebrate the shining light that indescriminately provides life to every being on Earth.
I am still in the Amazon jungle about an hour boat ride up the Amazon River from Iquitos, Peru. More than likely at this moment I am listening to the symphony of insects, birds, and monkeys while I lay in my hammock and reflect on the ceremonies of the past couple of nights.
If you are interested in coming to Peru, I highly recommend you bring herb books so you can identify some of the plant life that thrives in this ancient rainforest.
Two books I can’t do without are The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs: A Guide to Understanding and Using Herbal Medicinalsby Leslie Taylor, N.D. and A Field Guide to Medicinal and Useful Plants of the Upper Amazonby J.L. Castner, S.L. Timme and J.A. Duke.
For understanding the medicine of ayahuasca, check out these books, Rainforest Medicine: Preserving Indigenous Science and Biodiversity in the Upper Amazon by Jonathon Miller Weisberger and The Fellowship of the River, A Medical Doctor’s Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicineby Joseph Tafur, M.D.
To get us all ready for the big cannabis celebration tomorrow (420) I thought I’d share one of the recipes from my book, Plant Songs.
I hope you enjoy this chai as much as I do. Not only is it delicious, you’ll feel pretty good too!
– 3 grams dried cannabis flowers
– 1 tablespoon Assam or Darjeeling
– 1 crushed cardamom pod
– 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root
– 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
– 1/4 teaspoon dried orange peel
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
Simmer 4 ounces water, 4 ounces of milk (the fattier the better—whole milk or coconut milk), and all ingredients together for 20 minutes. Strain out cannabis and other ingredients and set aside. Drink 2-4 ounces of the tea as needed to promote appetite, reduce nausea or as a gentle relaxer.
Emotions are high as cannabis legalization comes to fruition in California. There is eagerness as the green rush (or weed greed, as I call it) brings professionals into a market where there was once only “criminals” or outlaws. The pink shirts can’t wait to make money off the backs of those once vilified and imprisoned for fighting for the decriminalization of cannabis. I openly hope that the pink shirts like John Boehner don’t thrive, as some of these hypocrites were the loudest to criticize cannabis users.
There is fear from those that have made their livelihood off of the private cannabis market and aren’t sure how they fit into the new legal industry. Those that have been able to conduct business unregulated and untaxed are now in the most over-regulated and over-taxed industries in the state. In the Emerald Triangle (Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties) where cannabis cultivation has been what keeps the local economy afloat, I have heard many growers say they are priced out because local agencies require absurd regulations that have never been applied to any other industry.
There is also excitement as anyone 21 and over can legally purchase cannabis at retail stores across the state (or will soon once local jurisdictions get it together to grant permits). I will admit that I am stoked that I can walk into a store and buy a sack of weed and a bar of ganja chocolate. It will be even better when the taxes on cannabis are not so high.
As those that participate in the new public cannabis market, we have to work hard to make sure that everyone that is still incarcerated for cannabis related “crimes” are set free. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that with some of the tax money from cannabis, that we pay reparations for those whose lives were ruined when they were busted for cultivating or dealing weed. In this new world of cannabis freedom, we have to remember that it is not equal opportunity for all as we like to believe.
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.
I am thrilled to announce that my new project, The Herb Walk Podcast, is finally ready to air! It has been a year since I started the interviews, but sometimes good things take a while to come to fruition.
On our first episode I interview Brigitte Mars, herbalist, author, professor, and natural chef. In our hour long discussion, we talk about how she became interested in herbalism, her passion for teaching about herbs and nutrition, cannabis, the spiritual use of plants, and so much more!
Brigitte teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University and The School of Health Mastery in Iceland. She has taught at Omega Institute, Esalen, Kripalu, Sivananda Yoga Ashram, Arise, Envision and Unify Festivals, and The Mayo Clinic. She blogs for the Huffington Post and Care2. She is also a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild.
Brigitte is the author of many books and DVDs, including The Home Reference to Holistic Health and Healing, The Country Almanac of Home Remedies, The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Beauty by Nature, Addiction Free Naturally, The Sexual Herbal, Healing Herbal Teas, Rawsome!,and co-author of The HempNut Cookbook. Her DVDs include Sacred Psychoactive, Herbal Wizardry for Kids of all Ages, Natural Remedies for Childhood Ailments, Overcoming Addictions, and Natural Remedies for Emotional Health. Her latest project is a phone app called iPlant that helps budding herbalists to identify plants in the wild.
Stay tuned for more interviews with other special guests like Mindy Green, Lisa Ganora, and other fabulous herbalists and educators.
Check out The Herb Walk Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play!
I’d love any feedback, suggestions, or requests for those you’d like to hear interviewed. This podcast is meant to inspire, educate, and preserve the science and art of herbalism for generations to come.