Awakening Community

Life seems a little surreal lately. Maybe it’s all the eclipses, but I have been feeling my shadow side big time. I know challenging times are opportunities for growth and I believe these times are no different. We are all being compelled to see the whole truth about ourselves, no matter how hard it is to wade through the illusions.

Clarity does not come easily, as we have built lies over millennia and the deceptions are ingrained in us. They have become part of our consciousness, part of our DNA. We must do what we can to awaken the truth.

And what is the truth? It’s simple:  We are connected to everyone and to everything on this planet. We are alive to play, to learn, to bond, and to love. We are alive so we may honor the Earth and all her blessings, and so we may honor ourselves.

We have been taught that we are here to succeed, to be better than others, and to fear what is perceived as different. We have been fed these lies for thousands of years, and now those ruses no longer sustain us. We yearn for community so badly, but connection is difficult when we have been separated for so long.

For me the solution is easy (easier said than done). I call upon my plant allies, my herbal medicine to bring me insight into myself so that I may be closer to others. I ask for their guidance in how I may soften so that the harshness of our world doesn’t break me in two. I am comforted as they nourish me with their wisdom.

Clinically I have seen many herbs help those that want a deeper connection to themselves and others. One of my favorite herbal combinations to inspire that one love feeling, can be made into a tea with fresh or dried herbs, or applied topically as an essential oil blend (always dilute essential oils before putting on skin).

If you are making a tea, use 1-2 teaspoons per cup. If making an essential oil blend, use 1-2 drops of each essential oil and dilute in 1 ounce of your favorite carrier oil.

Awakening Community

Clary Sage(Salvia sclarea)- to bring clarity and compassion to an unsettling truth

Pine (Pinus spp.)-to dispel guilt, shame, or anger that may arise upon your awakening

Rose (Rosa centifolia)- to arouse love for yourself and others

What herbs do you call upon when you feel disconnected from your truth? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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

Fragrant Flower Tea Recipe

My daily walks around Denver are so aromatic this time of year. Everywhere there are roses, dogwoods, cottonwoods, and lilacs wafting their gifts my way. The rain has made everyone vibrant and green, coming to life after winter.

All of their beauty has inspired me to share a recipe from the Rose chapter of my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine. I hope Rose fills you with as much love as she has me.

Rose’s Song: Love Yourself, Everyday

Fragrant Flower Tea

Harvest a handful of roses, daisies, calendula, violet flowers and any other edible flower (make sure they are not sprayed with pesticides). If using lavender, use only a small amount, as it can taste soapy. Pour hot water over flowers and cover completely. Steep for 20 minutes in a glass jar with lid on. Strain flowers and collect water in a glass quart jar. Drink the tea throughout the day to open your heart and promote relaxation.

If you’d like to order your copy of Plant Songs, go to Balboa Press or Amazon.

With much love and gratitude,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured Image: Rose created by Jason Garcia 

Learning from the Masters

I have been having a hard time liking humans lately, which is not a good place to be in. When I went to Peru this trip I knew that is what I wanted to work on with the shamans at Refugio Altiplano. The shamans Jose and Heracio, listened compassionately as I spoke about how humans are on the fast track to destruction and how I couldn’t assimilate the actions of our insane reality. When I was finished, I felt more at peace just knowing there are men like these two helping to facilitate the healing of us all.

The next day Jose tells us we are going to Terapaca, the small village 30 minutes or so

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Older children by the new playground

upriver from Tamshiyacu. Terapaca is where some of the staff live, including Jose. Last year we went to the village to celebrate Peruvian Independence Day and noticed that the playground at the school was in total disrepair. The small group I was in (all friends of Refugio owner, Kelly Green) decided to pitch in and buy a new playground for the children of the village. A year later, it was such a joy to see the kids playing on the swings, see saw, monkey bars, and other structures. 

 

I knew what Jose was doing. He reminded me that all humans are not evil, destructive. By taking us to the village, he reminded me that all humans are not evil, destructive beings. He showed me how village life is in contrast to our modern lifestyles. I saw the beauty of life through the eyes and hearts of children. I saw our future and the potential for greatness in us all. It was heartfelt and beautiful. A gift I needed at just the right time.

So that is my message today. Be hopeful for the future. Be a beacon of light for the children, for they emulate what they see. Know that we are all held in the bosom of the Earth, loved and adored for exactly who we are. And if you need reminding like I did, go to Refugio Altiplano and they will show you your brilliance.

With much love and gratitude for all of life,

jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured Image: Staff at Refugio Altiplano

Four Books on Medicine from the Amazon

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.

I hope you find these books as helpful as I do.

With love and gratitude,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Giving Thanks for Nature

These rainy Humboldt days have me pining for a little of that Colorado sunshine. I will be back there soon enough and then I will miss the grey misty coast. I will just enjoy the moisture while I can and give thanks for the opportunity to enjoy both places.

The thing I love most about being an herbalist is learning about plants that grow around huckleberryme, wherever I happen to be. Autumn in Humboldt means rain and that means mushrooms, moss, and lichens. The berries are almost gone and any lingering flowers have given up to the dark days ahead. It is beautiful!

If you get the chance, go outside today and see what is still growing around you. What is hanging on to the last days of summer’s warmth? Give thanks for the abundant life that surrounds you, even when it looks like the dormant days of winter are ahead.

 

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

We Are So Blessed

“We are so blessed

   We are so blessed

     We are so grateful

       We are so blessed”

I love the Karen Drucker song I am so blessed. I change the lyrics to “We are” instead of “I am” because I know that feels right to me today. One person is not truly blessed until we all are.

There is so much sadness in the world right now. The earthquake on the border of Iran and Iraq and the school shooting in Northern California are just the latest disaster that brings my grief to the surface. Life is so precious and I want to remember how blessed I am every single moment of the day. I want to be grateful with every breath and courageous in every action.

This doesn’t always happen and instead I am overwhelmed and fearful. My anxiety rises and my breathing shallows. I consciously breathe deep and long, feeling the connection between my lungs and my kidneys. In Chinese medicine, the qi (energy) of the kidney rises up and grasps the lung qi, guiding it down to the lower abdomen. I feel my breath reach my belly and low back. AHHH! I begin to relax as my shoulders drop and the tension in my jaw releases. Another deep breath. Gratitude.

To strengthen both my lung and kidney qi and give me energy to assimilate the world, I huang qi (astragalus slices).aa7569a1like to work with the herb Huang Qi (Astragalus membranaceus). Huang Qi is a popular qi tonic whose virtues are not overrated. I like to add 3 slices of the Huang Qi to rice and soup stocks, along with 1 Hong Zao (Ziziphus jujuba), and 3 slices of Dang Shen (Codonopsis pilosula).

Huang Qi reinforces wei qi defensive energy- “immune system”), while Hong Zao and Dang Shen tonify qi, improve digestion and calm spirit.

When our qi is strong and our spirit is calm, we are able to absorb the turbid energy of those around us. We can transform anger and fear into compassion. When this happens, our words and actions will be benevolent and we are one step closer to a blessed world for us all.

For the love of plants,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Plant Spirit Communication

These holy days of honoring our ancestors always make me a little sad. I have lost a lot of loved ones (two and four legged) and my altar usually overflows with pictures and names of friends and family that have passed over. I am in San Diego this year so my altar is small and sparse, with only my medicine bag, some gemstones, and a few oils and elixirs I like to travel with. Although I can’t honor them the way I normally do, I still thank them for all the wisdom and love they have given me.

In Chinese medicine, many aromatic plants have the ability to “open orifices.” This means that they can expand our consciousness and open our heart and mind to new thoughts and experiences. Aromatic plants also transform dampness, which can bring us more clarity of thought and action. While the opening and transformative powers of aromatic plants help connect us to our own spirit, they can also help with communicating with our ancestors and other spirits as well.

There are a few aromatic plants I call upon when I want to deepen my insights, meditations, and communication with the spirit realm.

Marigold– the aroma of Marigold is the only flower that the dead can smell; opens communication between earthly and spirit realms

Clary Sage– brings clarity of thought and feelings; increases visionary awareness

Rose– transforms all grief and heartache, helps to see the beauty of life

Frankincense– opens chest and lungs, reduces constriction caused by loss and grief

Cinnamon bark– warms and invigorates, strengthens gate of fire, provides grounding for deeper meditation

I hope you find the aromatic plants that call to you and discover all they have to offer.

May you, and your ancestors, be nourished.

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,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows