Holiday Recovery Day

I am a little tired today, hung over from rich food and a little too much chocolate. I thankfully didn’t overindulge like I have in the past (last holiday season my stomach hurt for 2 weeks straight), but I still need a little herbal help today.

It is only around 15 degrees Fahrenheit in Denver so I started it off with a creamy, steaming hot cup of Spicy Chai. The warming spices of Cinnamon, Ginger, Clove, and Fennel coupled with a frothy coconut milk did wonders for my mood this morning! To combat the lingering fatigue that can come with eating rich, fatty foods I took a dropper full of Milk Thistle tincture, along with my Medicinal Mushrooms and homemade Digestive Bitters.

Today I’ll try to take it easy on the gluten and sugar. Instead of feeling like I need to eat them all, maybe it’s time to give away the remaining holiday cookies that my husband’s mom makes for us every year. I will stay away from the last piece of cake and eat only like one piece of chocolate…

Regardless I will continue to take my Bitters and drink copious amounts of Chai.

Stay warm out there!

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Time to Move On

As we all process our emotions from the traumatic events of the last few weeks I am reminded of how much we really need our plant medicine. As devastating as hurricanes and mass shootings are (and the loss of Tom Petty- RIP), it is the devastation we are inflicting on our planet that I mourn most of all.

Everyday I participate in practices that only benefit myself and my own selfish desires. Hummus in a plastic container is more convenient that making my own. I use oils that are shipped from Asia so I can make herbal infusions.  I love the freedom of traveling the world to experience other cultures and see their local plants. I will continue to willingly be a part of the problem as long as petroleum is our main source of fuel. There are a million other ways I am part of the problem. This blog isn’t about how guilty I should feel for being a “bad person.” It is a call to action to participate in healing humanity from the societal sickness that is causing the degradation of the planet and the destruction of our spirits.

Humans have this fucked up idea that we are the “top of the food chain.” Christianity has done a great job in perpetuating this falsehood. It’s time to recognize the lies we have been fed to justify our egotistical destructive behavior. It is not our right to treat all other life forms as they are here for our sustenance and pleasure. I have even seen this belief transfer over to herbalism and aromatherapy, where most people truly love our plant allies.

Plants are not solely here for our physical and spiritual health. Yes plants like to help us, but they were not put here just for you to harvest for your tea or salve. Medicinal plants are not alive to serve us. Plants are sentient beings that were part of this Earth eons before mammals evolved. Humans have a very small concept of space, time, and life on Earth. If we expect to thrive on this planet for millennia to come we have to start thinking bigger. Much, much bigger!

Our psyches can’t take the trauma we experience and watch, every day. The internet makes us aware of all the killings, famine, racism, genocide, misogyny, and natural disasters in real time. This is too hard for us to assimilate, affecting everything from our digestion to our mental health. Our societies are not set up for people to grow emotionally, spiritually or mentally. The industrial revolution set up a system to condition us to be indoors (work in a factory, go to school).  We did not evolve indoors. We are not meant to work all day to perpetuate a society that only survives by harming all life on Earth. People are breaking. The paradigm has to shift. We have to get back to what we truly know is important. We have to integrate back into a simple way of living. We have to get back to the land.

I’ve found the best way to acknowledge and process what I’m feeling is to be out in nature. Just walking among the forest or sitting by the ocean reminds me that humans are just a small part of all the other life in this universe. I see myself as part of the miracle of life. I feel the significance of my own being and my connection to everything around me.

When you are feeling sad, fearful or disempowered, I encourage you to get out in nature and take a few minutes to just sit and listen. Inhale deeply and let in the energy of all life around you. Let the breath of the Earth infuse you with a vitality lighter than grief, brighter than sorrow. Exhale and cry, scream, kick and run for yourself and your fellow woman. Weep for Mother Earth and the extinctions we have witnessed. And then listen to the whispers brought to you by the wind in the trees. Hear the songs of the plants, the birds, and the bees. What is being said? 

What do you hear stirring within you? 

For the love of plants, 

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Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

Actions Speak Louder than Love

I am disgusted by the white supremists that are emboldened by our current president and conservative politicians, since they have normalized being racist, misogynists, and downright hateful. I am not surprised like many people. If you think this is something new then you are ultra privileged, have your head in the sand, or both.

Racism is learned behavior, taught by generations of hateful people that use the excuses of fear and economy to stay ignorant and mean. Besides donating money to organizations that fight oppression and racism, take the time to work within your community to make a positive change for those that need it most. It’s not easy, it won’t happen overnight, but it is us, the privileged ones, that are responsible for contributing to making America safe for all of us.

One of the ways I help is to spread knowledge of herbal medicine. Knowledge is power, and knowing what herbs we can use to heal ourselves (instead of relying on doctors and the pharmaceutical industry to do it for us) is empowering. It may be the most important thing we can do to lessen the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots.”

If you are an herbalist, acupuncturist, or other health care provider, I encourage you to give back. Teach a donation based class on community herbalism, give free or low cost treatments to those in need, donate herbs or products to free clinics, just give back in whatever capacity you can.

Don’t let your fear, sadness, or embarrassment keep you from making the world a better place. It will take all of us.

With love,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

How to Make Calendula Oil

After all that talk about how I love making herbal medicine I want to share a super easy infused oil recipe with you.

Ingredients:

250 ml Olive, Apricot kernel or Oil of choice

50-125 grams Dried Calendula flowers (100-300 grams Fresh)

Supplies:

Double Boiler

Wooden spoon

Glass Bowl

Cheesecloth

Dark, Glass Bottles

Put Calendula flowers and Apricot Kernel Oil in the Double Boiler and heat on low for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Pour the mixture through a cheesecloth into a bowl or large mouth jar.

Press excess oil out with a wooden spoon

Pour oil into dark, glass bottles and store in a cool, dark place 

Apply oil to dry, irritated skin or add a spoonful (or two) to a warm bath for smooth, silky skin.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

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

 

Herbal Activism at the International Herb Symposium

I don’t know how I can choose what to highlight about the 13th International Herb Symposium. Between all the talented teachers that traveled from around the world to share their love of herbalism with us, the epic dance party, the $20,000 raised by the IHS for the United Plant Savers (UPS), and the chance to gather with friends I don’t see very often, this years symposium is pretty much beyond words.

Since I have to say something, I’ll start by telling you that the International Herb Symposium is a fundraiser for the nonprofit, United Plant Savers. Every two years the symposium is held to educate people about the importance of conservation when it comes to medicinal plants. The take away message from UPS this year is that the enthusiasm for herbs is outgrowing the availability of many of our plant allies. We have to start growing our own medicinal herbs and supporting local organic farmers if we want to be a part of keeping our medicine available to all. There are just not enough resources to keep up with our exponential population growth.

Many speakers, from different lineages, talked about the 6th Extinction that we are in now. It’s real folks and we have to actively be a part of the solution instead of continuing to add to the problem. Heavy news, but given with hope that we can alter the course we are on by consuming less and giving back more. I cry as I recall the words of Linda Black Elk from the Lakota tribe, about how we have profited off the medicine of the Native people of this continent, while they were denied their cultural legacies until the Religious Freedom Act of 1978. We white people have been able to practice herbalism, unobstructed and without reproach, smudging, drumming and chanting without the fear of retaliation from our government for communing with spirit and plants the way we chose to. Privilege comes in ways we aren’t even aware of. It is our responsibility to be on the front lines with Native American tribes, as they protest the innumerable pipelines and mines that infiltrate their sovereign lands. And that will ultimately affect us all. Thank you Linda Black Elk for illuminating the truth about how our freedom has come at the very high cost of yours.

I am inspired and in awe of Jacquelin (Jinpa) Guiteau, Julia Graves, and Michelle LaDue (a fellow acupuncturist!) for their mobile clinics in Haiti. They have treated over 40,000 women, men, and children with homeopathy, essential oils, herbs, and acupuncture for everything from shock to cholera. The essential oils and homeopathy are the most effective because of how many bottles they can carry, and how far the medicine goes. A single drop of essential oil in a community water barrel has stopped the spread of cholera in some areas. Every female in Haiti has some form of vaginal infection from a very young age, and a combination of a 1% dilution of tea tree and lavender is providing relief for the females they have been able to treat. Imagine the feeling of vaginal relief for the first time in your entire life. The power of plants is miraculous! Thank you thank you, Jacquelin, Julia and Michelle. Big heart hugs to you all!

The keynote speaker was Robin Wall Kimmerer, scientist, decorated professor and enrolled member of the Potawatomi Nation. She eloquently spoke of the importance of giving back to our Earth, instead of constantly taking. Robin spoke of developing a new language when speaking about our plant relations. When we refer to other forms of life as “it” then it is too easy to devalue them as we do with all of our “natural resources.” “It” doesn’t have a soul, “he” or “she” does. She suggests a new pronoun for our plants, “ki,” which comes from the ending of a Potwatomi word (I can’t find it in my notes!) and would personalize life, instead of treating “it” as if it’s life is not as important as ours. The plural would be “kin,” which is what plants are to us. They are our ancestors, our relatives, our kin.

I will share more experiences from the International Herb Symposium, since I didn’t even tell you about the ultra-talented Amikaeyla Gaston or the update on the Fire Cider Three. Those will have to come later. For now I leave you with these thoughts:

“What if you were a teacher but had no voice to speak your knowledge? What if you had no language at all and yet there was something you needed to say? Wouldn’t you dance it? Wouldn’t you act it out? Wouldn’t your every movement tell the story? In time you would be so eloquent that just to gaze upon you would reveal it all. And so it is with these silent green lives.”  – Robin Wall Kimmerer

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows 

The International Herb Symposium

I’ve never wanted a May to be over as much as this one. I’m being slightly melodramatic, but next year I am spending May in California! I am getting super excited for June, and the beginning of my Summer travels.

Do you know about The International Herb Symposium June 8-12 at Wheaton College? If not, check it out!!! The IHS is The symposium to attend, as it only happens every two years and brings teachers from all over the world! I went in 2015, and knew it was one I had to attend whenever I can.

Highlights for me are seeing Rosa Tupina Yaotonalcuauhtli again. She is a Registered Nurse, Curandera, and Sacerdotista of the Sacred Moondance Ceremony. I was able to attend her classes last time, and I look forward to learning from her again.

I hope I get to take Jacquelin (Jinpa) Guiteau’s class on Healing into the Dream World, where we will learn to use plants to heal ourselves and others in dreams. Jinpa is an ordained Buddhist monk that started the Earthquake Survivor Relief Clinic in Haiti with Julia Graves.

And Rosemary Gladstar will also be there leading an herb walk. I may the most excited about this, just because Rosemary’s enthusiasm is contagious and it isn’t often that Rosemary teaches these days.

Register for the IHS!

I hope to see you there!

With love,

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Jessica

 

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

Don’t Fear the Flowers

Many allergy sufferers fear the outdoors this time of Year. Spring brings renewal and joy for me, but for some of my clients it is nothing but grief. Red, itchy and watery eyes can be alleviated by cool herbal compresses of JuHua (chrysanthemum flowers). For post nasal drip and runny nose, mucolytics like Juniper or Cypress can dry that drip right up! Diffuse these essential oils in your home, car and office or make a 3% dilution roll-on and apply to your temples and the lymph nodes on your neck.

The plants are not our enemy, allergies are a response to a weakened Wei Qi (Defensive Qi) that needs to be strengthened. Our co-evolution with flowers, herbs and mushrooms make them your best defense against your allergic response. Then you will see what’s so great about stopping to smell the flowers!

With love,

JessicaBaker

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

Our Co-Evolution with Cannabis

I spoke on the The Shift Network’s Plant Medicine Summit with David Crow last Thursday and  was reminded once again of the intricate connection with our plant relations. Listening to all the speakers share their stories and love of herbs filled me with deep joy. Something I realized I haven’t felt in years.

I have been cynical and fearful about the future of our planet and that heaviness has now lifted. Many of us are on the plant path and listening to wise people like Margi Flint, David Winston, and Dr. Vasant Lad, have renewed hope for the healing of so much trauma. We are on a long, evolutionary journey that spans so far into the past and future that most of us can’t even imagine.

I know cannabis is good for our personal evolution. Our endocannabinoid system tells me so. We wouldn’t have so many receptors for cannabinoids if we did not evolve alongside it. Cannabis has been cultivated in parts of Asia for at least 10,000 years and there is some evidence that we may have been using hemp as cordage for 26,000 years. With each plant that gains recognition for its medicinal properties, we move one step closer to healing ourselves and our planet. I am honored to share the medicinal and spiritual properties of cannabis, alongside all of my other herbal allies.

If you didn’t get the chance to listen to my talk on Our Co-evolution with Cannabis and would like to, sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you a link to the talk!

With love,

jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Cannabis & Himalayas  Photo credit: Arne Huckelheim