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

 

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

Flowers of Freedom Blend

As yet another “holiday” approaches, we find ourselves celebrating our independence and freedom. Many of us are ghastly aware that these “freedoms” come at an extreme cost to our fellow humans and certainly to our planet. This 4th of July I am going to do what a lot of people are doing. I’ll gather with friends around a bonfire, play guitar, eat too much, and enjoy the privileges so few of us have.

Along with these time honored American traditions, I will also give offerings and thanks to the land that colonists violently took from those that had called this majestic place home. Our “freedom” is muddled with genocide, slavery, rape, clear cutting, mining, and built on hope, dreams, liberty, and freedom. We can no longer choose to remember the illusion of independence, but accept the reality of the actual cost of our being “Americans.”

I don’t say this to make you feel guilty. I say this to make you aware that in accepting the truth, you can change the future; only when you know where you came from can you be guided where you want to be.

The flowers in this blend were chosen to represent the red, white, and blue of the American flag.

Red signifies hardiness & valor

White signifies purity and innocence

Blue signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice

Red- Roses: helps open your heart to love and compassion for all beings

White- Shasta Daisy: assists you to experience the purity and sweetness of life

Blue- Vervain: provides strength in advocating for justice for all

Either make a delicious sun tea out of 1-2 tbsp of each flower or add 1-2 drops of each essential oil (or absolute) in 1 ounce of carrier oil and anoint yourself daily.

Thank you for spreading peace and love throughout the world.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

The Essence of your Favorite Tree

“I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again”

I feel like this is my theme song the last couple of years! One of my favorite things to do is travel. It makes me feel alive, brings me closer to understanding other cultures, and makes me so grateful to have a planet as gorgeous as our Earth.

The recipe today is a simple offering from my heart to our life-giving Earth.

Sit at the base of your favorite tree (it can be in your yard, the park, or in the forest- just make sure it hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides or chemicals). Take 3 deep breaths and notice any subtle or profound changes in your body that occur with each breath.

What does the exchange of CO2 and O2 with this magnificent tree feel like? With permission, take a leaf, flower and/or twig from the tree and place it in a bowl of fresh spring (or filtered) water. Infuse in the water for as long as you have time, whether it’s 5 minutes or overnight).

When you feel ready, gently take out the plant material and take a sip of the infusion. Allow the vitality of the tree to flow through you. What medicine does this tree have to offer? What do you have to offer back?

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

An Herbalists Essentials for Travel

I’m getting super excited about the International Herb Symposium this weekend outside of Boston at Wheaton College. I went two years ago and had a great time learning from some of the most revered herb teachers from around the world.

One of my highlights was planting an herb garden dedicated to the grandmother of Western herbalism, Rosemary Gladstar. I look forward to seeing how the garden has grown over the last two years. I bet it will be beautiful!

As I travel this week, I am reminded at how important it is for me to stay healthy despite all the exposure from those around me. The summer epidemic season seems to have already started, as many of my friends and I had a gnarly cough and sinus congestion last week. Thankfully I am better now, but I want to make sure my immune system is strong and prepared for the adventurous week ahead.

For yesterday’s flight to Cali, I made sure to drink my daily dose of elderberry tea (which is not usually something I am taking into June- but this year I Need it!). I always have my essential oils traveling with me- planes are full of germy re-circulated air and I need my defensive team!

Here’s a list of some my essential travel oils this week:

White Sage– purifies, calms, and is able to negate the most toxic energy (be it infectious disease or that irritable passenger beside you)

Laurel– strengthens will and courage, strengthens your resolve and helps you adapt to the stresses of travel

Scots Pine– improves memory and strengthens lung qi, aids you in keeping your patience with challenges that are outside of your control.

St. John’s Wort– helps with others getting on your nerves, also great for improving qi and blood flow to the nerves after hours of sitting on planes, trains or automobiles.

As always, use common sense when using essential oils. Dilute-use sparingly-respect the earth

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

A Peaceful Journey

May has been one full of dramatic changes. It hasn’t just been the weather, where we have had 80 degree days, thunderstorms, hail and snow all within a couple of weeks. The shifts have also been of heart and soul.

Many of us are coming to grips with the undeniable injustices that are occurring all over the place. These horrific acts have always been happening, but now with the internet we know exactly when they happen and sometimes we even get a live feed.

We want to know what’s happening so we can try to change it. I just don’t know if our psyches are able to assimilate all the information that comes at us in newsfeeds, notifications, and pop-ups.

I know for me it is overwhelming and downright obnoxious. Knowledge is power, but a lot of what we see is not knowledge, but distraction and opinion pieces that look like real news. How are we supposed to know what is important and relevant and what is just written to rile us up.

As I sit here upset with the way things are, I remember that I can help change what I don’t like to see in the world. My place is just to remind others, and myself, that it is our relationship with Nature that will bring about the greatest peace. I just have to find peace within myself and then I will be much more peaceful and loving towards others (easier said than done!).

Here’s my Peaceful Journey Blend that I will be dousing myself with all day today, and probably the next 4 years! Remember, use organic and ethically wild-crafted herbs and essential oils whenever possible! And use those precious essential oils sparingly!!

Peaceful Journey Blend 

3 drops Mt. Shasta Lavender essential oil- relaxes NS, reduces anxiety

3 drops Clary Sage essential oil- brings clarity to thoughts and feelings

2 drops Mandarin essential oil- transforms energy

2 drops Frankincense essential oil- reduces pain and sorrow

Add all essential oils to 1 ounce carrier oil (I Love apricot kernel oil). Mix well. Put in a roll-on bottle and anoint yourself when you need clarity and relaxation.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Herbs that Keep you Sane in a Crazy World

As politics and media continue to spin us into an emotional whirlwind I find it very difficult to not spiral down the rabbit hole of despair.

Now more than ever I am relying on my plant allies to calm my overactive nervous system and soothe my aching heart.

Here’s my top 3 herbs these days to keep me sane in these trying times:

  • Rose– my #1 herb to help with grief, sadness, and compassion. When it’s hard to like (much less love) the millions of people that think Trump is an acceptable president, Rose reminds me that all are suffering and their words and actions are a reflection of that.
  • Milky Oats– I drink Milky Oats daily when I need to nurture my mind, body and soul. Deeply nutritive and relaxing, Milky Oats can help with nervous tension, body pain associated with stress, and insomnia.
  • Reishi Mushroom– this spirit herb grounds me like no other. The modulating properties of Reishi (Ling Zhi) make all transitions easier, helping us to adapt to change and see the bigger picture. Reishi allows me to hold space for myself, while also creating deeper connection with others.

May you find peace within yourself. May that peace spread around the world!

With love,

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Jessica

When energy flows, wellness grows

Wild Humboldt Tea Recipe

Among the old-growth Redwoods of Northern California, my herbal journey began in the late 1990s. Having thousands of acres of ancient forests to explore, my primal self was awakened.  

I wanted to live off the land, eat wild foods, wildcraft herbs and make all my medicine. And so I did that blissfully for years. Then a desire to become an acupuncturist came over me and I completed a four-year master’s degree and passed the licensing boards. I opened a clinic and worked closely with my community to provide much-needed healthcare. Seeing clients and helping people heal themselves is the most rewarding experience, but I knew I had to share the wisdom of herbalism and Chinese medicine with as many people as I could.

And so I left the comfort and shelter of the wilderness to live in Denver, with views of towering downtown buildings instead of majestic forests and Mother Ocean. It is now easier to teach at conferences throughout the US and abroad, and I have the opportunity to work at Colorado School of TCM and Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism.( Not to mention I now actually have consistent, high-speed internet which was hard to get anywhere I lived in Humboldt County, Cali.).

I know it was the right decision because everything has fallen nicely into place since I moved here over a year ago. This year’s teaching schedule is filling in nicely and I have the time to both see a few clients and continue to work on my herb book, “Plant Songs.”

This week I’ll leave you with the tea that made me fall in love with herbalism and our plant allies. It is a delicious and nourishing tea that will leave you feeling more than satisfied. Stay wild!

Recipe: Wild Humboldt Tea (wildcrafted with reverence)

Ingredients:

Handful of fresh nettles

Handful of fresh violet leaves and flower

Handful of fresh plantain leaves

Small amount of fresh dandelion leaves

Small amount of fresh prunella flowers

Instructions:

  1. Infuse all ingredients in the sun in a glass quart jar. 
  2. Infuse one to four hours or overnight on a full or new moon if desired.  
  3. Strain herbs out or be like us herbalists and strain through your teeth or just eat the herbs too.

When energy flows, wellness grows.

I’m Always Growing Like A Weed

There is so much going on in my life, I feel like the weeds and flowers, firmly rooting into the Earth, but reaching up high towards the Sun. Invigorated by the longer, warmer days and ready to burst with life!

This is an exciting week for me, as it is my first official week in my new office! I’m buying furniture and hanging art on the walls, as I envision all the creativity that will take place in this space. I finally have a kitchen to create medicine! This means my aromatic blends can finally come to fruition. I have space to formulate as well as see clients and I couldn’t be happier that I have a place for all my books, herbs, tinctures, and oils.

Many of you know I have also been writing a book called Plant Songs. I am happy to say that the first draft will go to my editor in a few days! Plant Songs is my journey into herbalism intertwined with personal stories, and cultural and medicinal uses of the plants that have been most pivotal to my personal growth. I explore sixteen plants, including magnolia, cannabis, psilocybin, hawthorn and angelica and share the messages they have told me. Plant Songs is my gift to the plants, for always being there, for always listening, and for always saying just the right things.

The last big announcement is that I have a new business name! Last year I wasted over 6 months of time and money working with both marketing and branding companies with disastrous results. That lesson learned, I feel great about what is happening now. Sometimes the stars just all have to align! I can’t wait to share the name and logo with you soon!

That’s enough excitement for now. I wish you a warm and wonderful week!

With love,

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Jessica

Hawthorn: Healer of the Heart

There is much to be said about the division we feel in the U.S.  The fundamental difference in how we view equality has always been here, but it is now being fully illuminated with the help of social media. I know I’ve been feeling more separated from humanity than ever before. Growing up in a military family and  moving often, I have always felt a step removed from other people. Relationships and places were temporary and that’s how I viewed life for a long time.

That changed for me when I moved to Humboldt County in 1997. The redwood forest instantly felt like home. I have cultivated friendships that have lasted almost two decades and I know what tribe, community and friendship mean. I am also grateful to have part of that tribe in Colorado. Their love has made my most recent transition to Denver much easier.

This division is certainly affecting my community, and I know it’s affecting most of yours too. There have been times when I am so overwhelmed I feel paralyzed in fear, anger and a deep sense of anguish that I haven’t experienced since my Grandma passed away thirteen years ago. Along with my qi gong and yoga practices, it is the plants that bring me back to myself. They give me strength and momentum when I want to give up on humanity and escape back into my redwood canopy.

hawthorn flowersIt is always, Hawthorn (Crataegus spp)- our master Heart healer that is here for me when I am in deep despair, heartache or grief. The leaf, flowers and berries all have cardiotonic action and have been used to treat heart disease in cultures around the world. The berries are known to dissolve fats and lower cholesterol, but I also hawthorn-tree-with-ripe-red-berrieslike to think of them dissolving all the heaviness of sadness or fear. When I drink a cup of hawthorn tea, I feel nourished, satiated, safe. I feel comforted and enlivened all at once. My shen, spirit, is at peace.

Once I have this peace within myself, I begin to have compassion for others. I can see their journey, their hurt, their fear and I just send them love. And I remember our place is with the plants, with the forests, and with the sea. We are a part of all life on Earth. We are not here to dominate, to rule, to conquer. We are here to live in peace. We just have to find it within ourself to remember.

Today, remember who you are and treat yourself with a warm cup of Hawthorn tea. Or find a Hawthorn tree in your area to sit under and return the love that she gives to you.

With love,

JessicaBaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Featured Art: “Hawthorn tree” by Arthur Rackman