Sep 062017
 

EMAIL ADDRESS CORRECTION: planthealer@planthealer.org

There’s no doubt I’m a hermit (or rather, very socially limited as an autistic person), but there’s also no doubt that caring for this much wild land and this remote homestead requires collaboration…. especially in an era of increasingly rapid ecological change. But I frequently hear from people whose dream is to live in the wilderness if they could just figure out how, this is an answer with simple, accessible logistics. Please check it out, and pass it on to anyone you think might be interested. “Couple” in no way implies heterosexual, cis, etc.,   – Kiva

 

Aug 282017
 

The 250 pages-long Fall issue of Plant Healer Magazine quarterly will release the first Monday of September. If you are not already subscribed, you can be sure of receiving a copy by subscribing now at:

www.PlantHealerMagazine.com

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Ingredients of particular importance to herbalists, are not really herbs at all, but fungi. From adaptogenic, hepato-protective, cancer protective Reishi mushrooms, to perception and life changing entheogens like Psilocybin, they are truly an amazing pharmacopia!

Marija Helt is one of our most promising Good Medicine Confluence teachers in recent years, and is the author of our newest Plant Healer Magazine quarterly column, entitled:

“Fungi & Friends”

Now along with periodic mushroom articles by Peter McCoy and others, you will also find in Plant Healer’s pages an extensive essay on the topic each week with Marija. She will be exploring the history, mythology, components, and cultural/spiritual aspects of those mushrooms she has the most years of personal experience with, along with some of the special medicinal plants that share ecological and psychological habitats.

Marija’s first column will be about journeys and experiments with a most fabled red dotted fungal spirit:

“Amanita Muscaria: The Flying Mushroom”

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Other Fall Plant Healer articles to look forward to include:

Jesse Wolf Hardin: Healthy & Unhealthy Recognition in Herbalism

Paul Bergner: Placebo & The Interpretation of Clinical Experience – a very important piece to help herbalists understand this phenomenom

Guido Masé: Bringing Macro-Microcosm Awareness Into The Healing Relationship – healing the ecotones where self and earth overlap

Valerie Camacho with Carolina Valder: The Radical Possibilities of Kitchen Medicine 

Peter Babulka: A Historical Overview of Hungarian Traditional Medicine

Shana Lipner Grover: The Botany of Lamiaceae – Distinguishing characteristics of Rosemary, Sage, and more

Dara Saville: Rivers, Restoration, & Hope for Medicinal Plants – Part II: Emerging Plant Communities

Nick Walker: Autism & Liberating Ourselves From The Pathology Paradigm

Sean Donahue: Herbalism & Deep Ecology

Craig Burrows: The Fluorescent Magic of Common Herbs & Other Plants

Jim McDonald: An Energetic Approach to Urinary Tract Infections

Susun Weed: Drying Herbs: Part I

Angela Justis: Having Fun With Infusion Recipes For Kids

Kenneth Proefrock: the visionary herbalist interviewed

Kiva Rose Hardin: Mythopoeia: Flora, Story & Culture

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Subscribe at:

www.PlantHealerMagazine.com


(Share & RePost this Enchantments Blog Freely)

Aug 192017
 

These pancakes will be more like crepesf or wraps to many American’s minds, lacking any leavening as they do. They are eggy, chewy, pleasantly flavorful, and certainly one of my favorite ways to cook Lambsquarters! They’re traditionally made with Spinach, but good Spinach is difficult to find in my rural/wilderness area, and Chenopodium is abundant indeed. Besides, I actually far prefer the flavor and texture of Lambsquarters in this dish, and t o be honest, in most dishes….

It’s important to use young, tender leaves, preferably before flowering/seeding commences, and equally vital not to use any tough stems. All parts should be easy to chop and no fibrous bits should be included. This really isn’t a difficult task if you harvest your Lambsquarters at the proper stage of growth! Even if your wild population has bolted, it’s fairly easy to keep young ones going far into the Summer in the garden by trimming any potential flowering stems back.

Lambsquarter Pancakes (a variation on Pinaattiohukaiset)

(Adapted from The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson, and conversations with Finnish friends)
Serves 2

Ingredients

•2.5 oz young Lambsquarter leaves and tender small stems
•1 jumbo egg
1/2 tsp virgin sunflower oil (or butter)
•1/4 C buttermilk
•3/4 C water
•1/4 tsp salt
•Pepper to taste
•1/2 C + 2 tb flour
•Nutmeg to taste
•Butter for frying

Directions 
1. Steam or boil the Lambsquarters for a few minutes until tender.

2. Drain water, then rinse at least twice with cold water.

3. Squeeze the water out, then chop finely

4. Beat egg in a mixing bowl.

5. Add Lambsquarters, oil, milk, water

6. Stir flour, salt, and spices together.

7. Add dry ingredients to wet.

8. Stir well.

9. Melt butter on a warm (preferably cast iron) skillet, at about medium heat.

10. Fry pancakes until golden.

11. Flip, fry until both sides are golden.

12. Repeat until batter is gone.

13. Serve warm, preferably with Lingonberry jam, or a tart homestyle Cranberry sauce.

Note: it’s probably much more traditional to use all milk for the liquid, but I love the buttermilk flavor and lighter texture.

Variation: You can stuff these with a Lambsquarter-Cream Cheese type dip and roll them up for a rich and very tasty treat!

Aug 182017
 

The quote on the poster above is taken from the visionary essay by Guido Masé, titled “Connecting The Ecologies: Bringing Macro-Microcosm Awareness Into The Healing Relationship,” a powerful vision of the healing ecotones where self, culture, and nature overlap and interact. We are pleased to publish this extensive and inspiring piece, at a time when nature and the environment are often dissed by progressives and conservatives alike as “elitist.” It is truly time to pay attention to both healthy and unhealthy patterns, grounding ourselves in purpose and planet, co-creating a world we can be proud as well as amazed to live in. You will be able to read it in its entirety in the upcoming Fall issue of the quarterly Plant Healer Magazine. You can subscribe in advance, at: www.PlantHealerMagazine.com

Guido will also be teaching again at our 2018 Good Medicine Confluence, offering classes that stretch the boundaries of what it means to be humans and healers in this age of transition, advance discount tickets and full details are available at: www.PlantHealer.org/intro/html

(Freely Share this Poster, & & Share This Link)

Aug 162017
 

This is a simple recipe, and can be made quickly with few ingredients. My favorite dishes are usually some sort of simple country style food, preferably with ingredients right out of the garden or some weedy delights harvested from the dooryard or otherwise nearby. I often term these favorite dishes as Woodland Foods, probably heavily influenced by reading the Redwall series and other fairy tale and fantasy style stories since early childhood.

I’m not sure why Rumex obtusifolius has become commonly known as Bitter Dock, since the leaves are more tender and palatable than Yellow Dock, R. crispus, in every comparison I’ve ever tried, and not the least bit bitter. In fact, I find R. obtusifolius superior as a food plant in almost all ways. Not least because of the mildly tart flavor and crisp tenderness of the texture. Thus, I very much prefer another common name for this feral green: Butter Dock.

I consider this species a mild, and much more locally abundant, substitute for Sheep Sorrel (the closely related Rumex acetosella), and use it in place of Sorrel in many recipes. This particular soup is a good example of that, being quite similar to many traditional European recipes for Sorrel Soups. Butter Dock can also be added to any number of soups, being mild, lemony, and altogether pleasant, especially when you gather the young, well-watered leaves. You can certainly substitute any Sorrel or R. crispus in this recipe if that’s what you have on hand!

Serves 2

Ingredients

•4 oz ground lamb
•1 large Shallot, diced
•Thyme, Sage (I used Black Sage, Salvia mellifera, but Garden Sage works nicely too), Dillweed, Epazote or other preferred/available spices.
•4 C water or broth
•2 medium potatoes, diced
•2 tsp salt
•1 tb Potato starch
•2 tb cold water
•2 tb cream (or half and half)
•Pepper to taste
•Handful of wild onion greens (and flowers, if you have them), chopped (optional)
•1 tb prepared or creamy Horseradish (optional)
•1 packed C young Dock leaves, chopped roughly into ribbons

Directions

  1. Brown the ground lamb and Shallot in a soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat
  2. Add Thyme, Sage, Dill, Epazote
  3. Pour in water or broth, then add Potatoes
  4. Boil for 15 minutes or until Potatoes are tender
  5. Stir Potato starch into cold water with fork until lumps are gone, then add cream
  6. Reduce heat to low, then pour in Potato starch & cream mixture
  7. Barely bring to boil while stirring, then lower heat back to a simmer or below
  8. Add Salt, Pepper, and prepared Horseradish to taste
  9. Sprinkle handful (or as desired) chopped Wild Onion greens/flowers over the top of the soup
  10. Add dock leaves.
  11. After a minute or two, Dock leaves will turn from bright green to olive, turn off heat.
  12. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and/or crumbles of a favorite cheese.

I’d also recommend serving alongside a well buttered baguette or thick slice of homemade Sesame-encrusted French bread

Aug 092017
 

Today marks the release of the August issue of Plant Healer’s free supplemental magazine, Herbaria! It includes an excerpt of an interview with beloved herbalist and elder, Phyllis Hogan, an article on launching on herbal apothecary by colorado herbalist, Sarah Josey, and a lengthy piece on Violet by me. The Violet monograph was originally only meant to be a brief overview of a common and much loved medicinal plant, but somehow grew into something much larger and became Three Faces Under A Hood: The Many Aspects of Violet. You can read it right here: August 2018 Herbaria

Jul 292017
 

Illustration by Yasmine Putri

After much family discussion involving extensive research into linguistics, history, and mythology, the three of us were able to come up with a name for the field pea that we all love! Somewhere between the insistent anglicization of words, predictable pronunciation issues, and woeful homophones we managed to weed out some of our favorite, yet problematic, words and pare it down to what we found most meaningful, beautiful, and intelligible. Relatively speaking, of course….

I doubt many of my readers were expecting us to pick anything even remotely approaching normal, common, or popular, and we haven’t disappointed! Rooted in the Old English language, and woven from threads of Nordic, Gaelic, and Welsh mythology and folklore, the name we chose references the Hawthorn tree, the great Elves of old (as opposed to the current pop culture conception), and our shared ancestral lands. From the wintery roots of Yggdrasil to the interlocked vines of the Green Man’s visage, the fabric of  our child’s conception, birth, and life is formed from these ancient stories, words, and ways.

Ælfyn Thorn Hardin is the name of our wee wildling son, due to be born this December. Because yes, Winter is coming…..

 

Jul 232017
 

Promote Your Herb Shop or Online Herbal-Related Business

in Plant Healer’s 2018–2020 Herbal Shops & Suppliers Directory & Guide

With Articles, Business Profiles, Ads, & Free Listings

In past years, Plant Healer Publications has produced extremely popular guides, including ones for herbal conferences and schools.  Now, at the request of many in the Plant Healer community, we are creating:

A Special Buyers Guide, with illustrated articles describing the different kinds of sources for herbs, medicinal preparations, herbal products and supplies… and including personalized profiles of participating businesses as examples inside the articles themselves – combined with

A Thorough Directory, with brief or lengthy listings of all kinds of suppliers of interest to herbal consumers, medicine makers, and practitioners…. including web addresses and contact info.

Offering you:

1. Paid Promotional Packages with lengthy business listings, graphic display ads, photos of your shop/customers/products, and personalized business profiles and tales within the actual Guide articles… or

2. Free 40-Word Listing in the Directory

Reach 50,000 or more herbal product consumers and medicine makers.

If you can’t afford the extensive portrayal and promotion of a paid package, we will gladly include a short listing for you anyway!

Welcomed Are Online & Brick n’ Mortar Businesses Such As:

Herb Shops & Apothecaries • Natural Health Stores • Bulk Herbs Providers

Manufacturers of Herbal Preparations, Tincture, Medicines • Cannabis Dispensaries & Producers Herbal Tea Sellers • Seed Sellers • Herbal Nurseries & Farms • Gardening Tool Suppliers

Suppliers of Alcohol, Bottles, & Equipment

Online providers will be listed by Product Category.

Brick n’ Mortar businesses will be listed by Region or State depending on the numbers.

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Distribution

Distribution will be to the 32,500 subscribers of Plant Healer Magazine and the Herbaria Monthly, and

the 44,000 readers of the Medicine Woman Blog, as well as shared with another estimated 30,000 herb enthusiasts.  A download link to the PDF will be announced/advertised in our publications for a full year,

and will be promoted with excerpts in an issue of Plant Healer Magazine, through the websites and mailing lists of those businesses appearing inside, as well as through our huge FaceBook network.

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Releasing in late Fall 2017 or mid-Winter 2018

To be sure of being included, send an Insertion Form with your Description, Anecdotes & Pics ASAP

Click on, download, fill out, and return the:

Herbal Shops & Suppliers Directory Invite & Application

http://www.mediafire.com/file/g8t6110z3i39wt1/Herbal_Suppliers_Directory_Application.doc

It’s a pleasure to do what we can to bring attention to your herbal-centric business and products!

Thank you much,

Jesse Wolf & Kiva Rose Hardin

PlantHealer@PlantHealer.org

Jul 212017
 

Yesterday I went in for my 19-20 week ultrasound, and got a peek at the wee beast for the second time. Said beastie was very active, yawning/babbling while tugging on the umbilical cord and using hands and feet to smack at the pressure of the offending implement on my abdomen.

Here you can see the field pea with mouth wide open, hand gripping the umbilical cord, and probably very much wishing to be left the hell alone. Especially after the indignity of being peered at bottom first for some time as we assessed the sex of the squirming unseelie creature.

 

And so I am carrying a tiny male, a baby brother for Rhiannon, who is utterly delighted by the prospect. Being that gender is such a cultural construct, knowing the sex changes little, if anything, for us. Certainly not clothing or colors or toys, but we are happy to know just a bit more about our wriggling, wild beast!  We are counting the days until December, eager to greet this new family member and to introduce him to the world with great celebration.

Earth Mother by Edward Burne-Jones

Jul 192017
 

For my recent birthday, Rhiannon and I headed straight up into the mountains to find our favorite sort of haven – cool, wet, boggy, and wild. Here in the Southwest, that often means looking for un upper elevation ciénega. These alkaline moist meadows that sometimes verge into swamps are rare, and incredibly important, refuges for a plethora of wildlife, including these two water loving changelings.

Our seasonal monsoons have gotten something of a late start but now seem to be finally taking hold. The day of our journey, clouds hung low and dark in the sky, casting peculiar shadows across the landscape as we wandered along creeksides and the edges of a burned out forest. At 9,000 feet in the air and only 60 degrees, we felt as if we’d left the muggy Summer heat far behind….

Meadow wildflowers are just beginning to bloom, replenished by the much needed rain in this seemingly endless drought. This year the Owl’s Claws, Hymenoxys hoopesii, seems especially prolific, turning the roadsides and meadows gold with their brilliant flowers. Normally, I would gather at least a few for oils and salves to soothe musco-skeletal aches and pains, but right now I’m halfway through an exhausting (and exhilarating) pregnancy, and am reserving all my energy for the medicines I most need for the coming year.

One of those medicines is our native Saint John’s Wort, Hypericum scouleri, which I’ve been making frequent use of for the nerve pain that has accompanied both my pregnancies. I’m excited that the Hypericum scouleri seems fairly abundant this year, as I prefer it to the more common H. perforatum, but will only harvest it during seasons in which it is plentiful and I can gather it without making any visible impact on the local population.

I also gathered a bit of Yarrow since it’s been scarce in the lower elevations this year. The Violet leaves seem especially aromatic and plentiful so Rhiannon and I spent a good long while crawling around beside the creek filling our basket with their bountiful green goodness.

Rhiannon is nearly 17, my darling goblin girl. She not only helped me wildcraft the herbs I needed but also assisted in preparing our birthday picnic, and baked me an amazing Rose-Pistachio Cake!

Here’s one of our ramekins of shepherd’s pie, made with lamb, mushrooms, beet greens, leeks, turnips, and topped with herbed chevre and a Checkermallow flower.

Here’s the amazing cake Rhiannon made for me! Redolent of rosewater, with Icelandic skyr icing  and topped with ground pistachios, rose petals and buds, and marzipan. This has to be one of the prettiest birthday cakes I’ve ever seen.

Gratuitous closeup of the Roses.

Yes, we do like to eat our cake off of leaves!

Rhiannon adores the lush beauty of moist meadows and couldn’t resist rolling in the sweet, soft grass.

Sniffing a bit of Oshá/Loveroot leaf, Ligusitcum porteri. I didn’t harvest any even though it was very abundant in this area. Partly because of my low energy levels, but also because this plant is a strong uterine stimulant/emmenagogue. I couldn’t resist that sniff though, as Oshá leaves are one of my favorite cooking herbs!

If I can’t harvest it right now, I can at least admire it!

Back home again, Rhiannon and I prepared a quick but nourishing soup with just gathered Sheep Sorrel leaves, Wild Onions, Crimini mushrooms, Leeks, and lamb. Tired but satisfied, we ate our soup while still regaling each other with the beauty and fun of our picnic feast!

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In the spirit of our celebration, here’s a bit of music for you. Waldkauz is a German band playing Medieval inspired music in the pagan folk genre. If you enjoy Faun, you’re very likely to love this album as well.

Jul 162017
 

Invitation To Submit Class Proposals For Plant Healer’s Annual International

GOOD MEDICINE CONFLUENCE

www.PlantHealer.org/intro.html

In these times of oppressive Normalcy, Creating a Divergent Alternative Couldn’t Be More Fun!

––5 Big Days Every Year – May 16th-20th, 2018 – Durango, CO––

From Plant Healer’s first Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference in 2010, through the HerbFolk Gathering, Herbal Resurgence Gathering, and now the Good Medicine Confluence, Plant Healer events have been distinguished by their utter uniqueness, and the diversity and vibrancy of the attending tribe.  This has happily inspired emulation and the founding of new conferences worldwide, from anarchic to bioregional, while our events continue to evolve into exciting new forms as not yet imagined.  Always, our focus is on empowering as well as informing, promoting herbalism as the “people’s medicine,” offering a balance of useable information and life-changing inspiration… seeing our work as not just the healing of bodies but the mending and changing and beautifying of the wondrous world.

Jul 122017
 

A CALL TO RE-ENCHANTMENT

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Kiva and I loved teaching a class on the topic of enchantment at the Good Medicine Confluence last month. The following piece on this topic, celebrates the birth of Enchantments, Kiva’s rewilded, acc-sense-uated new manifestation of her long beloved Medicine Roots blog. You can read the earlier, much longer versions in the book The Enchanted Healer, and in the Good Medicine Confluence 2017 Class Essays Ebook, both available by clicking through to the Bookstore page at www.PlantHealer.org

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The little cabin where Kiva and I sleep, nests far from what is called civilization, seven river crossings from pavement and 250 miles from the nearest real city, and thus from the sounds of sirens and traffic that so easily impacts the rest of oversensitive and neurodivergent. The only sounds we tend to hear after dark, are the nuanced songs of the crickets as they slow their tempo with each degree of drop in the canyon temperature, the tones of owl and whipporwill, the steady background murmuring of our nearby Sweet Medicine River, and the tidal cadence of my dreaming wife’s restful breaths.

And so it was not an alarming sound that woke me up one recent night, but rather, it was the incredible white-blue light of the full moon seeping through my closed eyelids, exciting my brain to resume its fervent explorations. I sat up extra carefully so as not to rouse anyone, turned to the window and beheld what seemed to me a magical sight.

At first I imagined everything might be covered by a surprise Spring snow, as all within reach of the moon’s silvered brush glowed with an unbelievable intensity – the tops of ancient volcanic rock frosted and luminous, yucca fronds reflective like glass, the upper faces of every leaf jewel-crusted and glistening, and what seemed to be a sparkle to the air itself. 

I could feel my eyes widen like an astonished child’s as I pressed my nose against the window, my heart quickening.  It was, as I quickly realized, an effect not of cold and water but of atmosphere and light, the lunar gilding of a landscape normally beautiful but familiar and as expected.  This night, that moment, it was as if transformed into a fantastical setting for an unfolding fairy tale, a place of untold possibilities, not just the background but the means for unforgettable events and life impacting visions.  It called to me to slip outside and wander about amazed, called me to “come out and play,” and I once more proved susceptible to its spell.  The so-familiar scenery now seemed somehow strange and new.  Time felt suspended, and tingles reigned where no words yet cared to follow.

I was – to be clear – utterly enchanted.

 

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”   — Iris Murdoch

enchantment |enˈCHantmənt| noun:

1. a state of great interest, heightened senses, and extreme delight

2. being under the influence of a spell (as in magic)

We can love a place, person or thing deeply and attentively, never taking it for granted, and yet still suffer a loss of sheen… a reduction in our sensing of – and being affected by – the world’s ever present luster.  We can easily find ourselves slipping away from palpable engagement and deep experience, withdrawing into circular thoughts and prefabricated scripts, moderating and monitoring our consciousness, the moon shrinking until it is only a small bit of background decoration instead of a heart-lifting celestial orb that we can barely take our eyes off, a force summoning the ocean’s waves, a celestial enchantress.  But this night, it was enchantment that reigned, as my habitual ways of perceiving this canyon that I’ve loved for nearly four decades were in an instant exceeded and enhanced, with the land again revealed as it really always is: enlivened, evocative, wondrous, spectacular, astounding, and ever so compelling.

One of the primary effects of enchantment is the sudden and dramatic boost in our ability to find things fascinating.  As children, the world seemed to be communicating to us and we often switched from whatever we were doing to listening raptly in an attempt to discern the language of animals and plants, decode the designs in rock, uncover meaning in every form and gesture.  We were very likely entranced by the back and forth of foraging park squirrels, mesmerized by the interactive patterns of a scattering of raindrops falling into a puddle, and characteristically susceptible to the mind altering effects of full moon’s light.  But gradually,  some of us may have grown accustomed to the puzzle of squirrel behavior, increasingly inured to the interlocking circles that rain falling in puddles makes, grievously immune to the faery dust of lunar illuminations.  It is enchantment that can summon us back, again and again, before those aforementioned portals to infinite possibility.

Later as adults, if we chose to study or practice some form of healing and bettering the world instead of  securing a typical education and corporate career, most of us were acting not so much out of a rational strategy as out of enchantment.  And enchantment can continue to inspire, adjust and flavor our lives and work, to the degree that we cease blocking it out and begin to welcome it, to help both create the conditions and clear the way for it, and learn to sustain the sensibilities and perceptions that fuel creativity, raise excitement, call attention to the wonderful and the mysterious, and help make our healing practices feel not only valuable but personable and magical.

Admittedly, there are many reasons for dreading, avoiding or repressing our enchantment.  Extreme or prolonged states of enchantment can be disorienting, intimidating and sometimes terrifying, for the above reasons and many others.  Altered perception and awakened senses are indeed intense, and we would find ourselves bombarded by a confusing flurry of sensory information without some perceptual filters straining out unneeded information, prioritizing what requires our immediate attention.  Even the processes of forgetting are often natural bodily mechanisms for protecting us from the hurtful traumas of the past, and serve to block out the distracting irrelevancies of the present.  It could be hard to get our work done if the intricate motions of our hands, the workings of our computers and tools, the patterns in a wooden table, every word and expression a client makes, or the slightest shift in the breeze all clamored for focus, all the time.

These perceptual filters are similar to an optic lens that bends or distorts light to create a message that can be deciphered by the brain, but unfortunately these easily harden, and once rigid, the eye is no longer able to adjust for changes in focus and light.  Once we allow our perceptual lenses to harden with habit, everything beyond our understanding or out of the ordinary is treated as bewildering, threatening or untrustworthy, and as something other, alien, introduced, as an imposition or manipulation as if it were a hex being placed on us by a malevolent entity.  Enchantment is, however, a lot like entheogenic plants, in that something like Datura doesn’t implant visions, and mushrooms do not impose ideas.  They work not by inebriation but by temporarily sweeping aside the neurochemical barriers to free association, synthesis, sensations of a unified field, and the experiencing of ecstasy.  What they can and often do is to unleash intrinsic, already existent means and capacities, open the door to repressed memories and untapped abilities, and make possible ecstatic connection through our natural, native senses.  Similarly, enchantment works not by implanting or imposing, and not by altering who we fundamentally are, but by disrupting the filtering processes that can not only protect us but also impact our realization, creativity, and blissful wonderment. It is a lantern in the dark, through the swamp of disillusionment we follow its light.

Disenchantment results not from the disappearance of enchantment, as the world is never less magical, and the capacity for ecstatic perception and engagement still resides in us even if dormant.  Disenchantment is a result of the overabundance and dominance of our protective filters.  Because we feel safer in a predictable world, we tend to try to eliminate or downplay surprises.  Because change can be so stressful, we often try to spin reality in ways that make it appear as if it actually stays the same. Unfamiliar environs and situations can feel scary, so we sometimes recoil from new revealings. Due to the fears, preconceptions, and judgments of family, friends and employers, many of us become guarded about revealing the extent of our transformative enchantment.  To keep from feeling stupid, we may prefer acting as if we know over acknowledgment of the unknown.  To protect ourselves from the wild visions, intense sensations, and perceptions and responses that might set us apart, we may have downplayed our enchantments, while sequestering ourselves behind our filters.

“If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I’ll never grow up, never grow up… not me!”  –J.M. Barrie (author of Peter Pan)

In the story of Peter Pan, Peter faces what is framed as a dire choice between clinging to the perspectives, liberties and joys of childhood, and growing up to assume his place and role in society. Who could be blamed for refusing to climb down from the boughs of a magical looking tree, into the cold arms of societal expectations and rote assignments, dampened passions and debunked mysteries?

We damn sure don’t need to do “what we’re told,” if what we are told is to unquestioningly accept their reality, to “straighten up,” “settle down” or “get with the program.”  We do need, as we’re advised, to “come down to earth,” but in terms of getting closer to elemental life and the living world we’re a part of, and actually experiencing rather than simply conceptualizing and analyzing, doing as well as planning… not in terms of letting go of our lofty hopes, cutting loose our cherished dreams, doubting and turning our backs on our visions, rejecting the giddy extremes of sensing and savoring, or retreating from the depths of ecstasy and brilliance of visions.  We need to “get real,” as most of us have been admonished, not by abandoning fantasy but by doing all we can in the real world to make the fantastic and visionary come true.  We need not grow “up” but “inwards” and “within,” growing not bigger but better.  Growing more beautiful.  Growing more healthy, more hopeful, more imaginative, more creative, more determined to be healed, and to help heal others and this earth.

“To live will be an awfully big adventure.”    –J.M. Barrie

On one level, we don’t need to ever grow up… only to learn how to act in public so that we don’t handicap our efforts or endanger ourselves or our goals!  On the other hand, humankind and the entire planet does need us to take on the best attributes of adulthood, including mature consideration and reflection, discernment and critical thinking, patience, focus, responsibility, initiative, service to a good that is greater than ourselves, self-discipline, follow-through, pledge keeping, and sacrifice when and as required.

As adults we have more entrenched disbelief to get over, and more preconceptions to overcome, but at the same time we have a deepened capacity for a more complex and greater realized enchantment than we knew as kids, a state of ecstatic wonderment made richer by our actual experiences, informed by our memories, feeding our creativity, and fueling our healing purpose.

“You have to turn your back on a culture that has gone sterile and dead and get with the program of a living world and the imagination.”   –Terrence McKenna

Healing is largely about helping to mend the rifts – not only to pull together the bloodied edges of parted flesh, but also the torn fabric of community and land, to heal the schism between us and our own bodies, and between the land and us.  In need of mending, too, is the perceptual gap between science and spirituality, magic or the mysterious, between investigation and wonder, what we think and what we do, who we are and what we love… between doing good and feeling good.

There is no inherent contradiction between being a serious, effective, credible Healer of any sort – even a professional clinician, mathematically-minded climate researcher or academician – and being an enchanted Seeker, Seer, Shifter and Celebrant. The best Healers will be those who tend their hearts as well as minds, exercise their capacity for wonder as well as their ability to assess and test, discern and understand.  Assuming we already know something impedes new realizations, taking anything for granted diminishes its significance and value, and “normal” states of mind provide a limited and often disenchanting view of the world we seek to enjoy and improve.  Curiosity and excitement are vital to both our learning and our practice, and satisfaction comes from enjoying not only the act of knowing but the exhilaration of the unknown, the teasing and encouragement of the evident but invisible that even now coaxes us forward.

Conformism and the need to fit in, convention, objective distancing, imagined certainty and the desire for predictability, systems of blind belief and cultures of cynicism, all combine to paint an unremarkable reality, featuring stark limits and reduced colors, contributing to our personal and collective disenchantment.  But we were born to be enraptured explorers, unafraid of new revelations and the overturning of paradigms, glad to be different and to take chances, unafraid to “go out on a limb”… because exploring high in the boughs, wonderstruck and leaf-dazzled, is a natural place and way for us to be.  With our increased awakeness, intense presence, heightened senses and greater awareness – with increasing tools such as the self-nourishment of sacred indulgence, our homes and work spaces made beautiful and intriguing, the creation of an inner sanctum, plant and animal totems, conscious cooking, drumming, dwelling on the edge, questing, places of power – we have the chance for a life and mission that is as fantastic as it is authentic.

Enchantment is not about being bewitched or bewildered, it is a healthy glamour that amazes us with revelations of magic in the mundane, of significance in the overlooked, misunderstood or undervalued.  It is neither hallucination, feel-good diversion, self delusion, sleight of hand tricks or entertainment.  It is allure, necessarily followed by engagement with what fascinates us, engagement with the ever so real world and our work within it… albeit a world  that will always be at least in part a wonderful mystery, and everyday healing work that is nothing less than extraordinary – not so much credible as incredible, not so much known and conventional as mysterious, adaptive, and mind blowing… with effects and results that can be astounding, awe-inspiring, and incontrovertibly phenomenal.

One can access all the universe through an intimate exploration of the natural world and ourselves, with threads and trails leading off to every mountain and gully, ocean depth and star’s song, to the missions and processes that need us, and to the very healing herbs we most need.   The portal we seek out is not only located in the deep woods, however, unless we include the wooded recesses of the wild mind.  The doorway to our enchantment is always near to us, its wrought-iron latch within easy reach of our hand.  In the clinic or lab, turn our heads quickly enough and we just may get a glimpse of the tree shaded contours of its Wisteria-covered frame.  On the streets, handing out medicine to the homeless, we may hear above the noise of the traffic a siren’s call that leads us down an alley – or thought-way – that we have never been down before.  We can be ensconced at our computers, far inside the bowels of some hospital or university, and feel a draft we can’t explain.  If it is insistent, and we prove sensitive enough, we will look up from our screens and follow it to a needed opening, an escape from the rote and entrance to the wild unbeknownst.

We have the possibility and option of stepping through this portal again and again, each time finding ourselves more intensely right here, not a new person in a new place but in the same place, a place somehow freshened and revealed, with our purpose deepened and fueled, and with ourselves each time renewed.  We become not only self-appointed servants of healing – in the very deepest, largest, most meaningful and encompassing sense – but also agents of awareness, imagination, the always evolving Gaian imperative, the percolating powers of discovery, of adaptation and synthesis, and of emergent balance and bliss.

One reason for the existence this Enchantments Blog, is to bring attention to this important truth, to celebrate our sensate lives and purposed roles – a call to re-enchantment! The practice of healing is ours to claim, to commit to and fulfill, develop and utilize.  And the gift of enchantment can be ours as well, empowering and exciting our personal missions and wild adventures, infusing wonderment and delight into our ever more purposeful lives.

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(please share freely and widely)

Jul 102017
 

Sometimes the very best things don’t go at all as intended. Wolf and I had originally planned for a tiny wedding in the White Mountains of Arizona, with only a few of our closest friends and family members. But as is often the case with busy folks, we couldn’t make the schedule work and so we ended up cancelling. I was confounded by the logistics, and couldn’t quite figure out how to pull it off when so many of our friends live all over the country and world. Wolf had already had my wedding dress made, and I’d ordered his outfit all the way from Ukraine, with no way to have a wedding.

In a moment of desperation, or brilliance, depending on how you look at it, I suggested to Wolf that we just have the wedding at this year’s Good Medicine Confluence. After all, the conference is the one place our tribe regularly gathers to celebrate!  And so it was decided, even if we had no time to plan out the details in the midst of all of the other last minute conference preparations and planning, right alongside morning sickness and pregancy plans! We chose to place the wedding in the midst of our yearly Fairies & Plants Masquerade Ball, making it even easier to wear our preferred elven style garb.

We’d initially assumed we’d buy wedding rings like anyone else, but after much thought about mutual sensory issues, conventional wedding ceremonies, and our personal aesthetics…. we decided against rings. Instead, we chose to exchange traditional Northern European style braided neck torcs. Of course we wanted something as handmade as possible, even with the time crunch we’d gotten ourselves into, and so I set to researching and contacting craftspeople in hopes of finding something exquisite, and yet within our insane time frame. We were lucky enough to find Danny and Sherry Hansen of Crafty Celts, who managed to create our torcs just in time! A sterling silver spiral torc for Wolf, and a bronze Ash leaf torc for me.

 

These are pictures from the site, as opposed to our actual torcs, so Wolf’s is in silver and heavier guage, while mine is a bit more delicate.

 

We only got as far into formal planning as selecting the music for the ceremony, and hoped the rest would fall into place while traveling, because it was clear there was simply no more time for anything besides packing. And when the engine blew in our vehicle three quarters of the way to the conference, all available brain cells were immediately reprioritized for figuring out last minute transportation and how to still make this event work while running late. Huge thanks to herbalist, teacher, and friend, Marija Helt, for swooping down to retrieve us, as well as generously allowing us to use her vehicle for the duration of the week!

Which is how it happened that on Friday night, a couple hours after teaching, and a very few minutes before the actual ceremony, I found myself in the Healer’s Market frantically (I mean serenely, right? Like all brides….) committing my vows to paper. Since this was something that I knew I’d be treasuring forever, I chose to write it in my beloved Green Woman Journal, custom made for me by Chris and Jinny of SkyRavenWolf of Wales and Wiltshire, England. There’s no doubt in my mind that the beauty and intricacy of the journal helped me find the right words to commit myself to my beloved.

 

 

Meanwhile, Betsy Costilo-Miller and Holly Torgerson had been out gathering flowers to weave into my wedding crown. I’m so blessed to have two friends who know me well enough to select the perfect plants, including some of the last Hawthorn blossoms in Durango, and create one of the highlights of my wedding.

 

 

My little sister, artist Melissa Du Bois, had traveled all the way from Clayton, North Carolina, to be at the conference, and helped me prepare for the ceremony. She and Betsy graciously did my fae inspired makeup, and attended me during the wedding, while Alanna Whitney shared her perfume, made me tea, generally kept me from losing my shit, and accompanied Wolf at the wedding. I’m certain we were an altogether unruly yet enchanted crew of otherworldly creatures!

 

Left to right, Melissa Du Bois, Betsy Costilo-Miller, and Alanna Whitney.

 

From the moment I began to make my way up the stairs to the terrace balcony in the dark of that cool Colorado night on the 16th of June, I lost track of everything besides the stars above and the dim fairy lights of the terrace, and the waiting for the music to start. It’s good that I know every note of Fiona MacKenzie’s Ribhinn a Chuil Bhain’ by heart, so that I woke up enough from my reverie to step toward the stage.

 

Once there, I was more than a little grateful I’d thought to bring the journal with me, and to read from it, for I’d forgotten most of the words I know in at least three languages. Somehow I managed to say the words out loud, and to hold back my tears enough for Wolf and the crowd to understand me.

I promise to be your partner and helper in work, in play… in life.

I promise to support you through whatever rewards and challenges we face, and that we will face them together.

I promise to love you now, for this life, and forever.

I promise to give you my honesty, my commitment, and my fierce loyalty.

Dearest Wolfling, you are my friend, my mate, my love.

You have my heart, my whole self, now and forever.

 

Also note Wolf’s wedding sporran, made by Chris and Jinny of SkyRavenWolf just for the occasion, complete with wolf, moon, and roses!

 

At the end I managed to laugh a little as I said “with this torc I thee wed”, and the audience laughed with me…. until Wolf spoke his vows, and the tears began anew. I somehow didn’t expect so much magic to infuse itself in this wedding, but it did. I didn’t know how cared for and blessed I would feel, but there it is. Perhaps I should have known better, but like I said, sometimes the very best things don’t work out at all in the way we planned…. and it’s the mystery and wild grace that gives birth to all this beauty.

 

Yes, I am wearing a thistle flower in my dress. An emblem of the Good Medicine Confluence and a longstanding symbol of resistance in the face of oppression.

 

For those of you there to witness and celebrate with us, so much gratitude for your love and support! I can’t tell you how much it meant to Wolf and I to have our tribe there with us for this incredible event. For those of you who couldn’t make it, we felt you there and thank you for your sweet thoughts and love sent from afar, even from across oceans and continents and too many time zones to count.

 

The back of my Green Woman Journal, the Tree of Life in all its intricate and storied beauty.

*With special thanks to Stephany Hoffelt for taking care of last minute details, logistics, and issues, so that I  could actually attend my own wedding!

© All wedding photos courtesy Cynthia Raiser Jeavons

Jul 062017
 

Be sure you subscribed to the free zine Herbaria Quarterly, to be sure of receiving the upcoming issue releasing on the 12th. Featuring a fresh new look, and more illustrated herb-related material. Included will be:

• Tales & Pics of The 2017 Good Medicine Confluence

• Radical Vitalism: A very powerful and important essay by Janet Kent & Dave Meesters

Plant Healer Herb Shops & Suppliers Guide: An invitation to list your business, or recommend your favorite sellers

• Healing With The Rosemary Plant: A clear overview for new students of this herb, contributed by enthusiast Jenn Heinzel

• Rosemary Gladstar Interview: Excerpt of a great conversation with the founder of United Plant Savers and Godmother of contemporary herbalism

TO SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE

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