Tag Archives: herbalism

some notes on recovery and a ramble about the wisdom of plants

My husband does everything for me. He feeds me, feeds the animals, goes shopping, cleans the house, cleans me! and has generally taken over all the big and small things of daily living. And, he doesn’t complain or show a whiff of irritation. I have failed to catch even a small sigh of regret. I thank him and my gratitude is laden with guilt and angst with a tinge of embarrassment coloring the edges.

Yesterday, I told him he should be proud of himself. He said, “There’s nothing to be proud about. I’m just doing what should be done. I’m just doing what is right.” I said, “I know others who would not be so patient and giving,” and my amazing husband said, “Then they should be ashamed.”

I do not know what I did to deserve such a person in my life, but I humbly thank the universe for my good fortune.


Bodies are amazing things. I’m so glad I have one that works so well. Granted, I feed it real food, but I’m not obsessive about it. I’ve done terrible things to it over the decades, especially back in the 60s and 70s…ok, I was pretty terrible to it in the 80s too, but not as wantonly as in the two decades previous. I got serious about yoga and started feeding it better in the 90s and with the turn of the century, I gained some wisdom and found my way back to a more earth-centered style of living. My studies of how to live with more kindness in my heart and a lighter foot on the earth has strengthened me in ways that I’m just now beginning to understand.


Two or three years ago I began studying herbalism in earnest. I chose to study in a tradition that spoke to me of the ancients, of old earth magic and lore, the Wise Woman Tradition. This gives me a real and deep connection with nature; a connection that is intimate and personal. I look at what is growing in my yard, in the woods close by, and choose the plants that have come to me of their own volition. I encourage these weeds of opportunity: dandelion, plantain, feverfew, St. John’s Wort, yellow dock, chicory and other “lawn weeds.” I plant perennial and annual herbs and flowers and vegetables that support me, my family and the birds and other critters who live here. I make my medicines from these humble but powerful allies.

If interested, read about my experiences with Poke

my first salve

as soon as the dandelions burst into golden blooms, i scooped them up, drowned them in olive oil and made a dreamy-scented infusion for a breast and massage oil. Six weeks ago, i picked all the new, vibrant spring growth of lemon balm, packed it in a jar and poured 100 proof vodka over it. a couple weeks later, i went out in the yard and picked a bunch of plantain. i picked only the greenest, healthiest leaves that had not yet made it to an animal or insect’s dinner plate. i chopped them up, put them to simmer in olive oil for 3 hours, and from this lovely, deep green infusion i made a salve using beeswax and a touch of vitamin E.

brni and jesse are getting used to seeing towels with leaves and flowers of weeds wilting on the dinning room table, but they still roll their eyes as comment on the nasty things i’m brewing and turning into stuff that they will later be pressed to try out. these are the same weeds our neighbors struggle to rid their lawns of — pulling and poisoning without a thought to the great (and free!) food and medicine they could be making from them.

last week i gave my plantain salve to my sister. she’s been having a difficult time treating a skin condition on her hands. the steroid creams and antibiotics have been minimally helpful and her healing has been slow. today she told me that this salve made from my lowly lawn weed has helped soothe and heal better than any of the medications she’s tried to date.

so, ha! it works! maybe this herbal path i’ve chosen is truly pointing me in the right direction? maybe it isn’t so far-fetched to use local, common plants to heal? this ain’t just wavy gravy alternative hoo-ha. it is down-to-earth, *from* the earth, and sensible.

my lemon balm tincture will be decanted and bottled tonight. it will be stored in the cupboard, ready for the next bout of family congestion or nervous tension. but i have no illusions…brni and jesse will still roll their eyes when i press a plant remedy on them and grumble about smelly, witchy brews and how they’d rather have real drugs.

here’s the plain old plantain, otherwise known as Plantago major L. or “the bandaid plant.”

dandelions vs. the FDA

Quoted from a poster on the weedforum

Gee…’modern heroic chemical medicine’ finally waking up? I wonder if the next step is that they take over what we do anyway, make access to herbs illegal unless prescribed by the ‘born again’ medical field…

…oyeah, moves are in the works, to be sure.

One of the problems with complimentary/alternative modalities (except wise woman ways) is that they are expensive and until recently none of them were covered by insurance. So, only wealthier people could avail themselves of alternative therapies. Now, the insurance co’s are waking up to this potential gold mine and are beginning to cover practices such as acupuncture, chiropractic, etc. Even massage therapy is covered if a doctor writes a script for it. It’s the old adage…follow the money. On first look, this seems to be a good thing….but wait…there’s more.

Along with this comes licensing, quality control, standardization and regulation. Welcome the FDA (unofficial arm of the pharmaceutical co’s.). If this sort of regulation is enacted, we could well see vitamins, tinctures, and herbs become controlled substances, taking yet more of our health care choices out of our hands and putting them in the hands of big daddy doctor. After all, we can’t be trusted to care for ourselves. We must be protected from ourselves for we are but poor, ignorant children.

Not even our weeds are safe. Aside from outlawing cannabis, peyote, opium poppies, etc., less controversial plants are in danger of regulation. They’ve already outlawed sassafras as a tea/ingredient, and in some areas it’s illegal to grow comfrey in your own back yard. Excuse me? Who’s concern is it but my own if I drink comfrey infusions? Even though pyrrolizidine alkaloids are found in the roots, it is not found throughout the whole plant, which is quite nutritious, and anyway, it’s MY liver.

One of the reasons I am studying the Wise Woman Tradition is because I am appalled by what is going on with the health care industry in this country and the amount of government intrusion in our lives. I don’t want to be told what is good for me. I don’t want to feed my family by industry standards. It’s hard, but we must overcome years of conditioning and realize that we know better than the “experts” what our bodies need to be healthy. We need to snatch back the power to control our nutritional and medicinal choices from the grubby hands of the pharmaceutical companies. We need to stop the insurance companies from practicing medicine without a license and then remind doctors of that oath to do no harm. But most importantly, we need to oust the government and their agents from our kitchens and backyards, and replace our chem-lawns with tasty weeds. It’s time to clear the drugs and vitamins from our medicine cabinets and replace them with homemade tinctures, vinegars and infusions.

In this way, we learn to trust our ancient, collective memory to care for ourselves; to be self-reliant and responsible for our health and wellbeing; to trust the wisdom of the weeds.

…and we may even save a few bucks by picking our own medicines out of our own backyards, always remembering to thank the plants for their giveaway.

can’t seem to remember my dreams lately…well, except for snippets and the hallucinatory ones that i had while sick w/the flu.
i miss my dreams.

found a wonderful website today…http://www.herbsfromthelabyrinth.com/
they are located in Lancaster…i just may go on out there one of these days.

found some chickweed growing under a big rock behind the library…yum. spring is around the corner, or at least under this particular rock.

stream of effluence

well, i’m limping back to some semblance of health. sorta. still experiencing drainage issues, but the cough is mostly breaking up and although there’s little in the way of energy, i am able to get through the workday.

but that’s not what i want to type about. problem is, i keep drawing blanks. everything is mundane. work is work. home is home. rut is rut and that’s where i seem to be…so firmly entrenched in this rut, i’m starting to think of design options.

i am now one of the moderators on susun weed’s forums. moderators do very little really, just sorta make sure no spam or porn or vicious arguments break out and disrupt the flow of wisdom. so, i’m co-moderating the announcements and herbal medicine chest forums. it’s such an easy and nice change from my experiences as the owner of the politics list. i thought when i passed on the ownership of that list to others that i’d be happy to participate as a member, but i found i couldn’t stand even that. such a negative and damaged place…i never went back. i’m so much happier and healthier at susun weed’s site.

some thoughts on tinctures:
* homemade tinctures are definitely better than store-bought
*lemon balm tincture is simply beautiful stuff
*elderflowers gently soothe flu-abused lungs
*cleavers may stick to your pants but the tincture unsticks the gunk
*skullcap keeps the lid on (promotes sanity) and eases headache, muscle tension/spasms
*motherwort calms and nurtures

no lavendar dreams

not remembering dreams the last few days. hmmm…maybe the lavender i put in my pillow is making me rest more deeply?
still feeling a bit edgy. not happy about being back at work with my plans to quit put off indefinitely. i AM going to register for the either the july or august 1-7 herbal intensives w/susun weed this summer. so, i’m trying to think of this job as a means to pay for my studies w/susun.

beginning to get ideas for homemade products. want to make some scented bath salts, maybe some lotions or salve.

buying different brands of lavender has attuned my nose a bit. the lavender i bought from mountain rose is awful. such a nasty first sniff before the lavender note becomes apparent. ugh. this is useful only for funky fake aromatherapy stuff like candles or something. by far, the best lavender is wisdom of the earth’s. i’ll probably break down and buy the huge bottle ($200) someday.
but not today. 😉


so, thinking abt all the stuff that i’m investigating. getting into herbalism. start is slow. wanting to learn but not finding it easy to hook up with a reputable school that i can afford. i want to get involved with susun weed, but not finding the time/money/courage to hike on up to woodstock and offer myself up.
but i will. i just need to clear away all the cobwebs.

do i also want to enroll in a correspondence school for herbalism? cheapest place i found was 5k for a full course in master of herbalism. haven’t been able to find out any independent info on how reputable they are. if anyone out there knows anything abt the clayton college of natural health, give me a clue.

i am taking a weed course in spirit and practice of healing. lots of interesting stuff to build intuitiveness which for me is scary business. but wholly necessary for me to break out of my too linear scientific cause/effect frame of reference. need to build those magical muscles.

so, i bought a couple books on tarot and a couple decks…one to practice and one for beauty.

practicing reiki on myself everyday, but would love to practice on others more. guess i need to go looking for those others.

work is bad. missing boss is found. his very presence has made the atmosphere in the library most oppressive. i actually was brought to tears today. spent half the day trying to loosen my tightened chest. my life in that library is definitely limited. but that means way less money to live on. what to do? what is responsible? what is healthy? will eliminating the negative energy of my job be worth the loss of income?
odear. fear of poverty. but ogoddess…the thought of freedom is so fuckin appealing.

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