4.15.2015

Sweet Medicine (class handout)


Sweet Menstruums
- Honey
- Glycerine
- Sugar

With Honey (or other sweetener)

Honey Infusion
Fill jar with fresh/ dried plant material. Fill again with honey, covering at least 2 inches over the top. Let sit.
- Can warm the honey (via double boiler method) to 130-140 F, to liquefy and pour over plant material.
- Plant material need not be strained from the honey. Based on personal preference.
- Can let honey infusion sit, or warm in a double boiler, or the sun. If warming with fresh herbs, then leave uncapped to let condensation evaporate.

Glycerite
Made like a tincture, but with glycerine as the menstruum, instead of alcohol. Better with dried plant material, and with undiluted glycerine. The glyerite can go bad easily, if there’s extra water content inside. Useful with nervines, combined with tinctures, or for those who don’t ingest alcohol.

Electuaries
4 fl. Oz honey: 3 T powdered herb
(1 C honey: 6 T powdered herb)
Basically, honey paste.

Pastilles
Electuaries with more powders, to form an even thicker paste-like consistency that remains in a ball, when rolled. Can add demulcent powders as solidifying agents. Can coat/ roll with other powders on the surface, to further solidify, on the surface. Let dry, then store.

Syrups
Simmer (2 oz herb: 32 oz water) down to 16 oz of strong tea. Strain the herbs, then add (8 oz honey: 16 oz strong tea)
- Can add (16 oz honey: 16 oz strong tea), to make a sweeter syrup that will last longer, unrefrigerated.
- Can add 3-4 T brandy (or other alcohol) per cup of syrup, as a preservative.
- Can add a few drops of essential oil, for a stronger flavor/ medicinal effect.

Oxymels
1 part vinegar: 2-4 parts honey

With Alcohol

Cordials
1 C drinking alcohol (ie. Brandy): 1 C sweet syrup/ concentrate (can do 1 tincture: 3 sweet menstruum)
Let sit for a long time. Can be years!

Infused Wine
Infusing herbs into a drinking wine, with the tincture. May be more tasty than a straight tincture. Can add berries and other sweet fruits, to sweeten the medicine

Elixirs
1 part honey: 2-4 parts alcohol
Make with the same technique as making tinctures. Can strain after 2-4 weeks.

Pleasure Elixirs
Add 3 tsp of pre-formulated elixir(s) to 60 oz sparkling water, for a refreshing drink.

Recipes
(All plants listed in parts. Refer to directions/ proportions above, using the parts listed.)

Arabic Honey Electuary
Black pepper 1: Ginger 1: Tumeric 6-8
4 oz. Honey: 3 T herb powder blend

Sore Throat Pastilles
(From Rosemary Gladstar)
- 1 licorice root powder
- 1 comfrey root powder
- 1 elm powder
- 12 echinacea powder
- 1/8 goldenseal powder

Cough and Sore Throat Syrup
(From Rosemary Gladstar)
- 2 elm bark
- 2 valerian
-2 comfrey root
- 1 wild cherry bark
- 2 licorice root
-1 ginger root
-1 cinnamon bark
- 4 fennel seeds
- 1/8 orange peel

Some Northeastern Spring Sweet Medicine to Make Now
- Violet flowers (honey infusion, sugar, syrup)
- Dandelion flowers (honey infusion, oxymel)
- Cinquefoil young leaves (honey infusion, glycerite)
- Dock young leaves (oxymel)
- Chives young leaves (oxymel)
- Garlic Mustard young leaves (oxymel)

Measurements
1 C= 8 oz
1 pint= 16 oz
1 quart= 32 oz
1 oz= 30 mL

Web Resources
Sweet Medicine Overview, by Kiva Rose

Cordial recipes

4.08.2015

"Making Tinctures" class handout


Standard Tincture Ratios
(Herb weight: liquid volume, % alcohol)

Fresh plants
1:2 95%

Dried plants
1:5 50%

Tincturing methods
- Weight-to-volume scientific method
- Folk method
- Percolations

Some plants to tincture now (spring in the Northeast)

Roots:
- Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
- Burdock (Arctium spp.)
- Docks (Rumex obtusifolius, R. crispus)
- Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)
- Knotweed (Fallopia japonica)
- Barberry (Berberis spp.)

Flowers:
- Hawthorne (Crataegus spp.)
- Elder (Sambucus spp.)

Trees:
- Willow bark (Salix spp.)
- Poplar buds (Populus spp.)

Web Resources

Making tinctures 101, by Kiva Rose

Tincture ratios handout, by 7song

“Solubility Chart,” for scientifically measuring tincture alcohol ratios, by Lisa Ganora

See trusted herb companies for optimal ratios. An example is Herb Pharm.

Tincture Ratios, and so much more by my teacher 7song’s teacher, Michael Moore

On Skunk Cabbage, by Sean Donahue

Five Flavors “Taste of Herbs” Flavor Wheel, from Rosalee de la Foret

4.03.2015

Apprenticing with 7song


Apprenticing with 7song meant spending six days a week working with him, for almost nine months. This revolutionized my perspective on herbalism, healthcare, and even life. Even more important than the hard skills gleaned, are the tools of empowered critical thinking, humor, kind generosity, and a truly holistic approach to healthcare that I observed clinically, and otherwise. 7song’s nonconventional teaching style is humorous, direct, engaging, and filled with clinical gems, botanical details, and almost thirty years of hands-on experience in the field, clinic, and classroom. 7song is skilled in all aspects of western clinical herbalism: wild-crafting, medicine making, field botany, clinical work, first aid, and an intimate understanding of how humans work, how plants work, and how the two work together. I now not only feel confident with the above skills, but also feel empowered to continue learning on my own, and inspired to provide accessible herbal healthcare services and education, wherever I go. Below, I share a bit more about my apprenticeship with 7song, which was a transformational year of my life. I hope that this story provides considering apprentices some perspective on what that experience is like, inspires working herbalists to offer apprenticeships in turn, and allows others a bit more insight into who we herbalists are, what we do, and the backdrop behind what has come to be a huge part of my life.
~

I found him on Facebook. A friend posted an intriguing photo from 7song. It was a beautiful moth on his “moth wall,” which is just a lamp against a white wall that bugs flock to at night, and he photographs, visiting often to observe different insects. I loved this simple image enough that I visited 7song’s personal page, looked through more of his photos, was further intrigued, checked out his webpage, then was blown away by the depth and abundance of herbal information there. “I want to apprentice with 7song one day,” I whispered to myself as sort of a passing thought, that I never dreamed would one day be a life-changing reality.

Fast forward... after studying traditional healing modalities around southeast Asia for three years, I started exploring options for returning back to the USA. I remembered 7song, and got in touch. Talking on the phone, across the ocean, even with the choppy reception, I could tell that I liked him immediately. I did some more research, then formally accepted what I’d already decided on, three years ago: I’m apprenticing with 7song.

“We are healthcare providers first, herbalists second,” said 7song on the first day of class. He would continue emphasizing this point, throughout the apprenticeship. He spoke about it in class, as a way to cultivate open-mindedness in our approach to integrative healthcare. More importantly, I watched this in action, observing 7song in the clinic. We utilize plant medicines in our healing protocols, but are not dogmatically attached to just this form of healthcare. 7song revolutionized the way that I consider and approach botanical medicine, healing arts, and life itself.

“Do you want to go for a walk?” 7song knocked on my door within a few days of my moving to the Ithaca region. I moved there to apprentice with him, which meant working with him intensively six days a week, for almost nine months. I had just landed back in the USA, and we hadn’t officially started the apprenticeship yet. While walking on that cold spring morning, just getting to know each other, we came across a steep embankment of ice. I started walking around it, to avoid slipping. To my surprise, 7song laid his bag at the bottom of the ice slide, ran to the top, and went sliding down, laughing. Whenever times got tough during the year, I would remember that moment, and smile.

7song is courageously nonconventional, and refreshingly “real.” He curses, speaks his mind, and is sarcastic, skeptical, playful, smart, wise, kind, generous, straightforward, sometimes rude, and certainly not for everyone. I love him. 7song’s almost thirty years of hands-on experience in the field, clinic, and classroom is apparent in his skillful teaching. He’s skilled in all aspects of western clinical herbalism: wild-crafting, medicine making, field botany, clinical work, first aid, and an intimate understanding of how humans work, how plants work, and how the two work together. He is constantly questioning, researching, re-evaluating, modifying, and growing. He’s an open-minded skeptic who takes nothing at face value. Everything is up for questioning, and nothing really “works” until actively proven, and consistently works, with continuous observation and querying all along the way. Nothing is ever “set.” 7song is honest about what he knows and doesn’t know. If he doesn’t know the answer to something, then he provides useful pertinent information and queries to continue exploring that direction on your own.

7song has a huge apothecary. It literally became my home, as I spent more time in 7song’s apothecary, classroom, and home than I did in my own sleeping-quarters cabin (a few miles down the road). His apothecary is a converted basement space, with a maze of metal shelving, lined with glass jars filled with diverse wild-crafted plants and medicinal preparations from all over the USA. Most of the medicines are tinctures, though there are also huge bins filled with dried herbs, and a collection of oils, too. Some of the medicines are ancient, back from when he was my age, studying with Micheal Moore, and even before then. There’s a lot of fresh medicine, too.

I loved processing fresh medicines. We went into the field to gather large amounts of plant material, usually making gallons of tinctures at a time, washing the fresh plants in large buckets, chopping them in the sun room, then eventually pressing the tinctures, getting giddy on the scent of alcohol and macerated plant materials, in the cold air of the basement apothecary. We prepared tinctures and other medicines for 7song’s variety of uses: at the Ithaca Free Clinic for clients, selling at the local co-op, and for various sundry uses. At some point, everything was utilized, and we went through large amounts of some medicines. Going through all of the bottles, the succession of years of apprentices becomes apparent, as I start to recognize handwriting, and associate certain handwriting with certain years, and the stories therein. But, before the time of apprentices, there was only 7song’s own handwriting, and sometimes little doodles and notations, that further tracked his history with this medicine, and life way. One could arrange the medicines by year, and get a sense of the abundant amount of traveling that 7song has done in his life, and the diversity of plant knowledge that he’s accumulated through firsthand explorative experience.

The apothecary opens up to the classroom. The classroom is a converted greenhouse, a glass room that we had to cover with ceiling blankets and open all the windows in the summer, to prevent the class from overheating. One of our apprentice projects, before class started, was remodeling the classroom. We ordered a new sofa, made some new pillowcases and curtains, redecorated, and reorganized the space. We continued caretaking this room through the school season, vacuuming before and after class, fluffing pillows, cleaning up after students, preparing demonstrations, and more. The greenhouse was also the perfect place to dry plants quickly, if we weren’t putting them into the dehydrator. The floor was often covered with recently gathered plants laid out to dry, sometimes being bundled together minutes before other students showed up, then spread out again, after the students left in the evening.

7song lives on a beautiful property that has a wildly diverse medicinal garden around the house. 7song has a hands-off approach to his garden. He plants the plants, but they end up mostly taking care of themselves. Apprentices manage a garden a little further from the living space, and plant whatever they like. Before planting season started, 7song fished a big metal can out, from the back of one of his extensive closets. He opened it, revealing one small bag after another of an assortment of seeds: herbs, flowers, foods, and more. “Go for it,” he said. And so, we planted what we wanted, everything grew wild while we were gone for the Rainbow Gathering fieldtrip, and we still had more than enough food and medicine from the wild little garden to feed ourselves while at school, take some foods home, and make medicine, too.

There are always flowers and tea in the classroom. Every morning, regardless of if it was a field day or lecture day, we apprentices brewed three large pots of tea: two different herbal teas that we usually blended on the spot, and a third caffeinated black or green tea. 7song is a skilled artist: he makes music, composes brilliant photographs, and arranges flowers that sing from their vases. 7song’s flower arrangements are like his herbal formulations: he’s done it for long enough that it comes as second nature, and is apparent in the rapidity of arrangement, elegant simplicity, and potency. We had two vases freshly filled with flowers for each week of class, that matched the changing seasons, and oftentimes, botanical information being shared.

The Community Herbal Intensive classes are three days a week, from Monday through Wednesday, May to November. The first part of the program focuses on herbal first aid, to prepare for the Rainbow Gathering at the end of June and into the beginning of July, which is a two week field trip, and the highlight of many students’ experiences. After that, we covered a body system each week: Mondays are anatomy and physiology, Tuesdays are botany field days, and Wednesdays are pathologies and materia medica. We keyed out plants and went on plant walks for field days, visiting different ecosystems, and becoming confident in both field plant identification and medicine making. Mondays and Wednesdays were mostly lecture days, with students piled into the sun room on couches that line the walls, 7song sitting in the center in his rolly chair in the center of the room, with his desk, skeleton, two vases of flowers, and yummy teas.

Apprentices attend all of the Community Herbal Intensive classes, and some of the Weekend Program classes. Weekend classes are three days a month, and are condensed versions of the Intensive program.

Apprentices worked all morning during class days, except for the Tuesday field days, as those were full day ventures. We help prepare lunch and dinner for 7song and each other, make tea for the students, clean up the classroom before and after class, empty the outhouses, process plants for medicine, tend the garden, prepare tinctures to sell at the co-op, and so much more.

Us three apprentices rotated between who accompanied 7song to the Ithaca Free Clinic on Thursdays. During clinic days, two apprentices sat on one side of the small room, while 7song and the client sat on the other side of the room. We took notes, listened, and observed while 7song conducted the client intake and consultation, formulated on the spot, then gave us the formula to fill. Apprentices filled formulas silently and efficiently while 7song continued with the consultation. After the consult, clients went home with their formula, and clear directions for taking it, and when to return. Initial consultations are one hour long, while subsequent consultations are half an hour long. The free clinic is an inspiring model. It’s completely free, with a diversity of healthcare practitioners operating together under the same roof: an herbalist, an MD, two nurses, two massage therapists, an acupuncturist, and a psychologist. One of the directors often brought in delicious food from her restaurant. In between clients and after work, we would crowd around the little table in the back room feasting, and exchanging jokes, stories, and knowledge. If anyone received a client who needed something that someone else could better provide, or if they had questions, then they would refer them to someone else, in the same building. I felt honored to witness, and be part of, an integrative holistic healthcare practice that is effective, accessible, and a generous gift to the community.

Besides the Rainbow Gathering, there are two other field trips during the school year. Apprentices help prepare for these trips, managing some logistics, clean up, student care, and other duties during the trip. Field trips felt like a respite from our usual long hours in the apothecary, and working before and after classes. We visited beautiful areas to learn more about the plants of different ecosystems, meet other herbalists, wildcraft, botanize, and create medicines in the field. Field trips were often luxurious days spent in nature, roaming around with fellow plant aficionados, and late nights around a campfire processing plants, telling stories, laughing, and living with delight. But, there were also long hours of driving around searching for a good area to wildcraft, some days of inclement weather, and the accompanying fatigue. We learned about the realities of wildcrafting, through this process.

Apprentices manage their own room and board, but attend all Community Herbal Intensive classes without an additional fee. Some people wonder if this is just a worktrade arrangement. It’s not. There’s no time to work another job, so apprentices need to have enough financial savings to provide for themselves, for the year. And, apprentices work a lot. Apprentices are an integral working part of 7song’s life. I had some monetary savings that I used, lived frugally, and still created space in my life for personal and social needs, though I didn’t get to know my fellow students as much as I would have liked. After working full mornings, I just felt like taking space during class breaks, instead of socializing. Regardless of how busy we were, almost every week, 7song took us apprentices on a little trip. Sometimes, it was partnered with a gathering expedition. But usually, it was just a walk in the woods where we’d talk, look at plants, and just relax, and enjoy each other’s company, in a non-work atmosphere.

The hands-on aspect of being an apprentice is invaluable experience. I witnessed the ups and downs of being a full-time herbal teacher, clinician, school director, wildcrafter, medicine maker, writer, and more. I observed a skilled clinician in practice with about 500 cases, learned a bit about selling products, filling orders, preparing for classes and events, and more. I learned a lot about myself, healthcare, herbalism, and the natural world.

There’s a certain degree of personal agency that is surrendered during the apprenticeship. After studying for three years in Asia, I was used to the respect that students afford their teachers. Sometimes, teachers have their students do years of mundane labor, before sharing any “real information.” There’s certainly a fair share of mundane labor, as well as more formal training, in this apprenticeship. 7song’s a strong character, and can be difficult to get along with, with clear personal preferences, rules, and needs. But, he’s a clear communicator, and cares. One of his first questions that he asked me, during our initial interview, was, “What do you think you will hate most about me?” Some teachers can be overly idealistic, glazing over the darker, yet real, parts of life. 7song is honest about all of these things, and about himself as well. That can be uncomfortable for some. He directly warned hat he can be difficult to get along with during our interview, and asked some potentially uncomfortable questions about race, gender, and other touchy subjects. So, I entered the apprenticeship prepared to work hard and learn a lot with a tough guy. His classes tend to attract punks and other “fringe” folks, as he is open to the counter culture, and carries a bit of a bad-ass reputation, himself. All three of us apprentices agreed that 7song’s hardcore, but not as tough or difficult to get along with as he made himself sound, in the interview. But, for a person who doesn’t fit 7song’s somewhat specific temperament, I can see how it would be really difficult for both parties concerned.

I lived close to 7song and didn’t have a car (a big no no, for future considering apprentices), so we often carpooled, especially during clinic days. We live slightly out of town, whereas the clinic is in the town of Ithaca. I treasured driving home after a full clinic work day with 7song. “I’ve been talking with people about their health all day,” 7song would say, “let’s talk about something else.” So we got to joke around, and discuss everything from pointless trivia to childhood stories, and more. 7song has the eyes of a skilled wildcrafter and naturalist, one who knows the land, notices small details, and is always looking, and seeing. Even while driving quickly, he noticed animals and plants that I didn’t notice. We would sometimes take detours to his favorite spots to search for peregrines here, scout for certain plants there, etc. He found a fox den down the road from his home. In the spring, he drove there everyday to watch the fox kits grow up, and play. “Grab what you need; let’s go,” he would sometimes announce out of the blue. The first time we visited the foxes was one of those days, where we had just finished our morning meeting, was preparing to kick our day into gear, then got called out for a surprise trip. We sat in the car on the side of the road, ogling the fox kits, while 7song made photo after photo, with his camera that’s always around his neck.

I really appreciate getting to know 7song beyond a teacher, more fully as a person, and dear friend. In some ways, I feel like the apprenticeship isn’t over. With all of the seeds planted during the apprenticeship, I feel both a responsibility and deep desire to continue nourishing those seeds within myself, while sharing that information and inspiration with my community, and further. We still keep in touch. I write down lists of questions, and we go through them, every few weeks. I consider 7song one of the rocks in my life, someone that I could actually go to for anything from personal to professional support. I sometimes feel like he sees something in me that I can’t see clearly yet, and is a cheerleader who dresses all in black and will never actually cheer, but will always be there, answer questions with more questions, and make sarcastic jokes that make me laugh and laugh, and think for myself.

On the last day of class, 7song said to us, “Yesterday, you were my students. Today, you are now my peers. One day, I hope you will be my teachers.”

4.01.2015

Homes




Where did you grow up? Remember the house that you lived in, the people who occupied that space, the area around the house, the town, your school environment, etc. What were some of your favorite places? What did you love about that home? Where do you live, now? How do you feel when you are in different areas of your home? What is your relationship with your home, now? What kind of relationship would you like to have? What is your dream home? How can you cultivate that, within your existing reality? 

Oil Infusions and Salves (class handout)

(Pictured from left to right: infused oils of St. Johnswort, White Pine, Chapparal, White Sage. It's hard to tell in the photo, but they are all bright colors: bright red, dark green, golden yellow, and neon green. Simply magical.) 
---

Oil Infusions

Oil Infusion Methods
- Long/ slow infusion (2 weeks)
- Solar/ Lunar infusion (can integrate into the slow infusion)
- Hot infusion (faster, for mucilaginous plant materials ie. Comfrey, or thicker materials ie. Barks, roots, and seeds)
- Crock pot (on low, 2-12 hrs)
- Stove top/ Double boiler (1/2- 1 hr)
- Oven extraction (120 F, 8-12 hrs)

Making Oil Infusions: folk method
1. Prepare the plant. Collect fresh plants. Depending on the plant and your preferences/ access, you will use it fresh, freshly wilted, fresh dried, or dried.
2. Process the plant. Chop it into small pieces. The smaller the better, to expose more surface area to oil. If using dried plant materials, you can even powderize the plant, though I find that difficult to strain afterwards.
3. Fill up a glass jar with your prepared plant material. Leave two inches at the top. Pack the jar so that it’s firm, but not overpacked.
4. Fill the glass jar again with oil. Completely cover the plant material. Poke it all with a stick, to release any air bubbles.
5. Cap it, and use your oil infusion method of choice (see above).
6. When finished infusing, strain out the plant material, and rebottle your remaining infused oil.
7. Label, and store in a cool, dry, dark place.

Oils to Infuse into
(Other oils may work, too)
- Olive oil
- Jojoba oil
- Almond oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Sesame oil (raw)
- Coconut oil
- Animal fat

(Note: Look up comodogenic vs. Non-comodogenic oils, for sensitive skin types)

Oils/ Waxes to add
- Cocoa butter
- Shea butter
- Avocado oil
- Rosehip seed oil
- Carrot seed oil
- Argan oil
- Vitamin E oil
- Beeswax
- Carnauba wax (from the Brazilian palm tree)

Salves

Salve Proportions
Different people give different proportions. Adding more wax creates a harder salve; adding less wax creates a softer salve. Experiment with what consistency you like.

From James Green:
1 oz wax (weight): 8 oz oil (volume)

From Rosemary Gladstar:
1/4 C wax: 1 C oil

Making Salves
1. Prepare your oils. Measure out how much salve you want to make, and blend our oil infusions and other oils accordingly. Pour into a glass jar with a pouring spout (I love beakers), and place into a metal pot. Fill water around your glass jar, to create a double boiler.
2. Heat it up.
3. Add wax, at your chosen proportions. It’s easiest to have pre-grated beeswax, and a dedicated grater just for beeswax.
4. Mix it with a spoon. Take out a small amount on the spoon and put into the freezer, to test its consistency texture. Modify as necessary, adding small amounts of wax or oil, until satisfied. It’s easier to slowly add more wax, instead of oil.
5. Once ready, remove it from the stovetop. If you want to add vitamin E or essential oils, then let it cool a little bit, then stir it in at the end, before it solidifies. The essential oils can explode, if the temperature is too high.
6. Pour into the awaiting jars.
7. Let cool. You might have to top off the salve as it dries, as it can create a funnel in the middle of the salve, as it dries.
8. Cap and label.
9. Store in cool areas, or carry around for frequent usage. Enjoy!

Labels
(What to write on your label, for a “mother medicine,” or a “simple.”)
- Common name of plant
- Scientific name of plant
- Date collected/ processed
- Part of the plant
- State of the plant (ie. Dried, fresh, fresh wilted, etc)
- Where plant came from
- Proportion/ method of extraction/ menstruum

Local Plants for Oil Infusions and Salves
(A few suggestions, to get you started. Note that a star* denotes tasty oil infusions.)

Vulnerary (skin healing) properties
- Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
- St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum)
- Plantain (Plantago major, P. lanceolata)
- Chickweed (Stellaria medea)
- Aloe (Aloe vera)

Nourishing properties
- Rose petals, hips, seeds (Rosa spp.) *
- Evening primrose seeds (Oenothera spp.) *
- Carrot seeds (Daucus carota)

Anti-inflammatory (pain easing) properties
(“A”= antibacterial)
- Willow (Salix spp.)
- Birch (Betula spp.)
- Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
- Mullein (Verbascum spp.)
- Mugwort (Artemisia spp.) (A) *
- Beebalm (Monarda spp.) (A)
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) (A)
- Conifer needles, inner bark, resin (A) *

Other tasty* oil infusions
(Lots of aromatic garden herbs here. Experiment!)
- Sage (Salvia spp.)
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus spp.)
- Garlic (Allium spp.)
- Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and other mustard plants: leaves, flowers, seeds

Brief Glossary
Menstruum= the solvent, or medium, that the plant material extracts into
Marc= the solute, or plant material
“Folk method”= fill it, and fill it again

Conversions
1 C= 8 oz= 256 mL
1 oz= 32 mL
1 L = 3.9 C

Further explorations
- Making body butters, lotions, and cremes
- “Herbal Healing for Women,” by Rosemary Gladstar (well, any/ all of her books)
- “The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook,” by James Green

Web resources: further reading/ projects
- On making Pine Pitch Salve, by Kiva Rose
http://bearmedicineherbals.com/pine-pitch-salve.html

3.25.2015

California to Connecticut, spring 2015 road trip

































“Where are you from?”
“Well...”
“Okay, most recently.”
“Bethany...”

I don’t know when or where the “most recent” bout of travels began or ended. After a while, everything blends together, blanket statements are impossible, and I don’t even know who, where, when, or what, let alone why or how. It just happens.

I like to plan. I brooded over returning to Connecticut to work with Two Coyotes Wilderness School (among other things) for a few years. I started brooding more seriously after finishing 1.5 years of formal herb school training, and meeting the empty abyss afterwards of, “What now?” I started looking at maps and getting in contact with people a few months ago. Now, I’m here.

Perhaps I “started” in New Mexico, for this journey. I over-wintered in the Gila wilderness, caught a ride to California with a neighbor at the first sign of spring, drove around California visiting friends, hiking, and interviewing Chinese Medicine graduate schools and acupuncturists, caught a different ride to...

Well, let’s begin the story here.

I caught a ride with herbalist Aaron to Wintercount, a wilderness skills gathering that takes place in the Sonoran desert every spring. At what point does one go from “plant geek” to “herbalist”? Aaron has been attending herbal gatherings and studying plants part-time for longer than I, but never went through formal training. He helps his friends and family with simple herbal protocols and remedies, and is what I’d call an “unofficial herbalist”: no credentials, but walks the talk. We carried on a conversation that I’ve been having with many herbalists: students fresh out of school, seasoned clinical herbalists, product makers, etc. How do we make a living doing what we love, while positively contributing to the world... and making a living, too?

There’s no easy answer. Herbalism is gaining interest in the USA, but there’s still huge public misconceptions about what we do, and who we are. We don’t really know, ourselves. Some herbalists make and sell products, some see clients, some grow and sell plants, some teach, some write, some wildcraft for restaurants and herb suppliers... the list goes on. I’m currently doing a smattering of all of the above, except for growing and selling (which I’d like to do, too). Most herbalists work another side job, which is sometimes related, but oftentimes not. Being a “working herbalist” becomes the other part-time job.

I tried working “just jobs” part-time while in school, and then while beginning my practice... and frankly, it’s a depressing way of life that I refuse. So, what now?

I’m considering complementary traditional healing modalities, to partner with my existing herbal skills. Possibilities include massage therapy, psychology, and perhaps most seriously: Chinese medicine. I informally studied Chinese medicine while in Taiwan: weekly acupuncture folk classes, and observing and assisting at a variety of clinics. I love the ancient poetry of the medicine, feel deep cultural ties with this tradition, and know its power and potential. I don’t want to go into debt.

Chinese medicine schools

Chinese medicine studies at most schools in the USA are at least a four year commitment, and cost around $50,000 to $100,000 in tuition and fees. I would be studying something I’m genuinely interested in, complements my existing western herbalism understandings and practices, and is a powerful healing modality that can help many people with everything some physical to psycho-spiritual imbalances. Is it worth it?

I visited six Chinese medicine schools during my three week sojourn through California, my home state, and the state with the “highest standards” of Chinese medicine education. USA acupuncturists must pass a series of board exams from the NCCAOM. California has its own test, and its own set of rules.

I interviewed a variety of schools, students, and practitioners. I started taking pre-requisite Western science courses online. I’m on my way. And, I’m still questioning the whole thing.

I sat in on as many herbal classes as I could, while visiting different Chinese medicine campuses. My favorite teachers were animated, visibly passionate about plants, and shared useful clinical stories relating to Chinese herbalism. I enjoyed the Herbs II class at the Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley. The teacher talked animatedly about each plant, while showing a Powerpoint image, and passing a dried sample around the class. She grows some medicine plants, and uses some of them in her personal practice, as well. Her students create food with Chinese medicinal herbs, and share it with the class for a weekly potluck, with recipes shared both online and in class. I love the hands-on approach!

I visited a formulations class at Five Branches University in Santa Cruz. The teacher varied between talking about formulas, glancing at and discussing over notes, and sharing clinical stories. He started off his career as a western herbalist, and then decided to study Chinese medicine, to explore a more ancient and comprehensive medicinal tradition, and a more “solid” career. I particularly enjoyed walking with him during break, discussing plants, clinic, healing, and life, while smelling the ocean, seeing the waves, and feeling the sea- breeze. What a beautiful sea-side location, that school.

Another formulations class, at the Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) in Los Angeles, had a teacher from China with a strong accent, who hails from a strong lineage of Chinese medicine herbal pharmacists. Her class was similar to the Five Branches University formulations class: a loosely followed Powerpoint, list of plants and formulas that needed to be covered rather quickly, and some clinical gems. I love Chinese and am grateful to know the language already. It will make learning Chinese herb names and formulas much easier. But, I also appreciate knowing the scientific (usually Latin) names of plants, their families, botany, identification, growth, habitat, collection, etc. I appreciate being a western herbalist, and the hands- on relationship- based approach that that entails. I loved learning about plants in all the ways that I have, usually in the field, muddy, dirty, and happy. In a sterile classroom environment, I’m unsure just how much I can learn. I think all this, as I visit school after school, sit in on class after class, combating fatigue and boredom, for a topic that I am truly interested in, but having trouble finding a fitting way to learn, that matches my spirit: hands-on, in-nature, and... wild.

I just sat in on another formulations class at what should be my final school that I visit, at the Southwest Acupuncture College (SWAC), in Santa Fe. I also visited their herbal clinic. The intake style is similar to the herbal intake that I learned with both 7song and at the Colorado School: clinicians ask lots of questions, and the client answers them. They used tongue and pulse diagnosis, along with taking blood pressure as part of intake. I observed them filling the formula. There’s something joyous and satisfying, even just watching people bustling around, handling herbs, measuring weights, powders flying into the air. SWAC was the most beautiful campus that I’ve visited thus far: old Asian art bedecking the walls, a koi pond with soothing running water as you enter the building, natural light, spacious rooms and halls that are still cozy, small classes, and what feels like personable staff. If I could find an off-grid or for-trade type living situation around Santa Fe for four years, I’d seriously consider coming to this school. The formulations teacher also came from China, with an even stronger accent than the SCU teacher, and even more animated than all of the other teachers I’ve visited. Her words tumbled over each other, sometimes accidentally sneaking in a word or two of colloquial Chinese, much to my surprised delight.

The Chinese medicine schools that I’ve visited seem to pride themselves on the diversity of their faculty, especially if there are people who hail from Asian countries such as Taiwan, China, Korea, and Japan. I found an abundance of schools around the Los Angeles area run by people from Asia, offering the entire course in English, Chinese, or Korean. These schools, besides being multi-lingual and attracting more overseas students, also tend to have cheaper tuition, are more informal, and seem to be located in areas with a heavy Asian population, which tend to be more urban, and crowded. I visited one of these schools, the Alhambra Medical University (AMU). I sat in on a tuina class. Of the seven schools, this was the only class that I joined, that was taught in Chinese. My friends who study in China and Taiwan say that most of the Chinese medicine curriculum is actually just colloquial Chinese (which I am comfortable with), with Chinese medical terminology thrown in. Much to my surprise, I understood most of what the tuina teacher said. Listening to a class taught in Chinese felt strangely familiar, and comforting. The Chinese medicine schools filled with Asian students in Los Angeles have an abundance of Asian students who were typically younger, more serious, more awkward, and seemingly less experienced with life. Older students also come from abroad, to find a better life here. Studying Chinese medicine in Taiwan or China is a more selective, competitive, and time-intensive program. Studying it here in the USA can be more expensive, perhaps more diluted, and allow for more potential prestige, and flexibility within the practice, afterwards. During tuina class, the younger students were awkward about touching each other, and exposing skin. The teacher reminded me of various other strong women I’ve met, especially in the mountains of Taiwan: she speaks loudly, moves big, and holds an aura of almost bombastic confidence, for someone with such a small, graceful, and beautiful frame.

I particularly enjoy speaking with the Chinese-speaking teachers in English, broken and choppy, then asking, a little under my breath, “Can you speak Mandarin?” The sense of relief that comes over their faces is almost comical, except that it feels like home. Visiting AMU and SCU, in that sense, felt like coming home. But, the more Chinese- filled schools also tend to be more Western sciences oriented, which is daunting, and frankly, a little nauseating...

Wintercount

I last came to Wintercount in 2008. I was in a phase of my life where I only lived outdoors. I had just overwintered in Boulder, CO camping in a poorly constructed freezing debris hut shelter, that was barely large enough to sit up in. I got sick close to spring, moved indoors into town, got depressed, and was freshly on the road again, relieved to be out of town and in the sun, in Arizona. Some things have changed, some have not. Returning to Wintercount seven years later, this year I was delighted to see many fresh faces, but even more ecstatic to see old friends. My favorite teacher from 2008 was still my favorite teacher, this year: David Holladay. I went to every activity that he led: a navigational walk, and a teen survival overnight.

We started the navigational walk before dawn, around 5 AM. Dave wanted to get to our starting location, so that we could walk, while the sun rose. We all piled into a truck, and rumbled off, about 10 miles away, on the other side of the mountains surrounding camp, to begin our day-long journey. I won’t go into specifics about the walk, because there’s too much to encapsulate. Nothing really “happened,” and so everything happened. (Come for a walk with me, and maybe you’ll understand. Maybe you understand already. Yes, you do.) Our walk culminated atop the ridge, overlooking camp. The group dispersed at this point, as the way down was overtly visible from such a vantage point. I walked the last few miles back with Dave. I admire how he can take the simplest activity, and make it profound. I asked him how he plans for classes. “I don’t do anything,” he said. He creates a skeleton outline of the class, knocking out some logistical details, then allows for a dance to organically ensue, between what arises, and how he responds. Dancers include the landscape, participants, and himself as the “leader.” “People come to me, thinking I know everything,” he laughs, “then they are surprised when I tell them I don’t know anything at all.”

I was “adult support” for the teen survival overnight, but felt like a participant. We all gathered at the campfire an hour after dinner, then set off into the dark with nothing, besides the clothes on our backs, and the shoes on (some of) our feet. Dave introduced some rules and safety protocols, then we walked. Arriving at the location that Dave had scouted out beforehand, we stopped. “Okay, you know what to do,” said Dave. The teens got to work. Within a few hours, they had selected a camp for the girls, and two boys’ camps, along a dry sandy wash. Students were allowed to bring a primitive fire tool, but only if they had made it earlier that day, with material gathered from the land that same day. The girls had teamed up, and procured a hand-drill set, and tinder bundle. The boys brought a flint stone from the knapping pit, to strike on another rock. It took a while, but eventually the girls got a fire, tag-teaming the hand drill. The teens carried a coal to each of the other fires, and the wash came to life. The teens went and gathered firewood and bedding, while we “instructors” laid down in a cuddle line to just watch, keep each other warm... and fall asleep. Near midnight, we separated the girls’ and boys’ groups, with clear instructions to not go visiting each other through the night. Starting to get cold, we instructors went and gathered firewood, and started a fire with a coal from the other fire, at the end of the line of fires, down the wash. We gathered fluffy aromatic chaparral boughs to sleep on, to provide insulation from the cold early spring Earth. Most groups slept huddled around the fire, though there was a group of girls who found a clump of trees, created a windbreak out of sticks, and slept in a cuddle line. They stayed the warmest, and slept the most comfortably. The rest of us varied between coldness, and the excitement of sleeping around a fire with “nothing,” and created from “nothing,” sharing stories until the sun, literally, came out. We stood facing the sun, silent to the dawn chorus of birds, faces and bodies arced towards the sun, arms open. I cried during the sunrise, and cried again, when we gathered all of the teens back together, and I saw their bright eyes, that reflected the light of the sun, and the line of five fires in the wash that night, created through teamwork, self sufficiency, and a growing understanding of how to live with the Earth, creating something out of nothing through teamwork. It cultivated a deepened sense of self knowing, and empowerment. And, cold and hunger. We sprinted back to camp, laughing and howling, to warm ourselves by the large campfire in camp center, to the clapping and cheering of parents, and others who were awake early enough to see us racing across the desert landscape, barefoot and triumphant across the cold Earth, breath and smiles clearly visible against the frosty morning sky, back into the center of our community.

Gila Wilderness, NM

(Now, I’m writing again a week after landing in Connecticut. There’s too many stories to encapsulate in one essay. For the sake of time, rather, the lack thereof, I will write more briefly about the rest of this journey, focusing on highlights from my time in each community that I passed through.)

Julie conducts long distance herbalist consults from the comfort of her beautiful cabin home, tucked into a hillside, and backed up against the Gila Wilderness. I found my winter house-sitting gig through her, and was her neighbor for a month. Julie works intensively with as many as four consults a day, all backed up to each other, sometimes several days in a row, then takes a few days off for herself. She sculpts her own schedule, and seems to have a nice balance between personal time and work time. Work is fulfilling and necessary: she guides people with chronic conditions, such as Lyme or cancers, to ways of restoring balance and health on all levels. Julie has a magical way about her, and seems to notice, well, everything. I appreciate that, and admire her ability to live the life of her dreams, be of service to the global community, and create beauty all around her.

Isabel was another neighbor in the Gila. She’s the community matriarch, the woman who knows everyone in the community, and how everyone’s doing. During my house-sitting stint, I would receive frequent check-in phone-calls from Isabel, and eventually we drove together all the way to California, and back again. Like many other retirees in the area, Isabel came from the medical field, and lived in another state for most of her adult life, before retiring here. Unlike most other folks, Isabel grew up here, with her dad working in the mine.

I hitchhiked up to the wild hot springs, just a few miles away, but a whole hour’s journey, due to the curvaceous mountain roads. An ex-miner picked me up. Here, it’s common to bump into people of the mining community, or affiliated with it. It’s the biggest job around, and pays well, compared to the other barely existent local job possibilities. “If you’re in the mining community long enough,” said the ex-miner, “Then eventually you’ll meet a casualty. Or, you’ll be the casualty.” He was present when a few co-workers literally caught on fire, from something that came down the chute in the copper mine, incorrectly. His eyes hollowed out a little bit when he spoke of this, “And so I stopped working there. But, you got to eat. And, I have a family to take care of.” I wonder if it’s really worth it, and what other options are out there for these people, and the ecological ramifications of mining, and so much more.

The retired community is interesting. People seemingly do whatever they want, whenever they want, with no time constraints, and minimal financial constraints. Many worked long jobs with differing degrees of satisfaction for most of their lives, with the accompanying exhaustion. I wonder if it’s actually necessary to wait until retirement to live the life of one’s dreams. I wonder if an unfulfilling overworked life is actually worth it, to “earn” old age, rest, and retirement.

The focus of this trip was people. For my spring cross country road trip, I hoped to find a good balance between meeting new friends, visiting old friends, exploring beautiful wild places known and unknown, and wild-crafting. Little did I know that I started my journey during a snowstorm, spring comes late this year, and most of my trip would be spent riding through storms, with my eyes peeled on the road, and heart racing. Thus, I only camped once on this trip: my final night in the Gila, curled around a campfire, singing and praying. The river had flooded, so that the hot-springs that I had hoped to visit were covered over by fresh rain and snow melt. Walking through the freezing cold rivers, my fire was imperative. I wrapped myself around my fire, and tended it through the night, listening to owls and coyotes, and wind moving through trees. I felt myself spiraling deeper and deeper in love with this land.

I’m seeking Home. I ask questions about the cost of living, quality of life, job opportunities, etc everywhere I go to know, compare, and weigh options. Visiting homesteaders (my dream), I ask people how they started their homesteads logistically and otherwise. This fire my imagination: hard work, and skills developed through community, self-sufficiency, and straight up courage and perseverance.

Black Mountains, NM

Andy is homesteading a property that he grew up on... and he’s doing it mostly solo. There’s goats, chickens, dogs, gardens, buildings, and so many different projects. He envisions more herbal classes and gatherings here in the future, and is renovating buildings to create living spaces for work-traders, and people to stay during events. It’s inspiring to see how much he can do on his own, but it also further underlines that I do not want to do this alone.

Albuquerque, NM

An unplanned stop, as the night was running late, and I needed a last minute place to sleep for the night, as road conditions were terrifying. I called around for leads, and found Ben and Stacy via another friend, Marvin, who paralleled my cross country trip at the same time. Both engineers, Ben and Stacy live a life that seems so different from the world I’m immersed in, and reminds me of Taiwan city life: day jobs, night lives, and a balancing dance that emerges from therein.

Santa Fe, NM

Sarah, Axel, and baby Seven live on the edge of town. She finishes Chinese medicine schooling in a few month, and dreams of creating a roving free clinic, traveling the world in a little converted bus. We spent hours investigating the intersections between dreams and realities, logistics and possibilities.

United World Community College Hot Springs (Las Vegas, NM)

Sarah mentioned a few nearby hot springs. None of them were on my route. While beginning my journey towards Texas, I felt reluctant to leave NM, and decided on a last minute whim, right before turning south, to go north instead, and take an hour long detour up to Las Vegas, NM. This hot springs sits next to a river, next to train tracks, across the river from United World Community College. It was the most exposed hot springs that I’ve yet been to, with many people, lots of trash, and small hot springs scattered across an area, all of them lined by concrete. Lithium hot springs, every part of my body that touched the water quickly became dry, while feeling exceedingly comfortable and relaxed. I started alone in my own concrete tub, that was large enough for me to extend all of my limbs fully out in each direction, and still have some space to move around, starfish like, avoiding cigarette butts on the periphery of my tub, mixed into melting snow, and mud. Eventually, an older man and woman joined my tub. Both hitchhiked around the country during their younger days, and we regaled tales back and forth across the human sized concrete tub in the middle of the semi-developed roadside hot-springs, electrical lines whirring to the music of the melting river, red rock mountains ringing us, cliff-side, the community college across the waters.

Palo Duro State Park, TX

I slept in my car that night, shivering under my old down sleeping bag, and smiling to the sounds of coyotes yipping in the surrounding sagebrush. The cliffs are red, orange, and majestic, reminding me of the Gila Wilderness.

Clinton, AR

I spent a few nights with Sean and Jackie of the Dirty Farmers’ Cooperative. After driving all night through terrifying snow and ice in barely visible conditions, I landed at their home, shaken and exhausted. “Welcome home,” said Jackie, giving me a big hug. Grassroots entrepreneurs and community builders, they started a by-donation cafe that not only feeds people regardless of how much they can pay, but also unites the community everyday at lunch. They seek to source their food from local farmers, and also organize a weekly farmers’ market that connects local farmers, craftspeople, and community. Sean built the cabin that they live in with his parents, who live a few minutes walk away. They built it in 5 months, with under $10,000 of materials fees. It’s a beautiful property, that backs up against national forest (my dream). Besides their idealistic visions and hard work, Sean and Jackie also impress me with their ability, as a couple, to work together, live together, and be beautiful, more-than functional, and filled with heart.

Dcoda is a recent addition to Sean and Jackie’s land. She lives in a modified shed at the entrance to the land. She spent 10 years living mostly off grid in an area of national forest, just south of where we were, and was still integrating back into society. We spent many hours discussing potential collaborations.

Competition, MO

Meeting Jamie and Jeffrey reminded me that living a life of my dreams is not only possible, but is imperative for a full life. And, that dream has intricate twists and turns that sometimes don’t reveal themselves, until one begins the journey. Expect the unexpected. No matter the fullness of ones’ life and how much it resembles the dream, life is still life, and challenges are to be expected. Expect perfect imperfection, and be prepared to dance, thusly, with it all.

After working a diversity of jobs, living in different places, and dating different people, Jamie and Jeffrey found each other, this land, and created fulfilling work that satisfies their needs, while lovingly weaving themselves into the inner matrix of their community, thus tying them into the global whole of a back-to-the-land movement that shudders as it breathes, in its monstrosity, its depth, its necessity in these times, and the triumphs and challenges that come with the territory.

These two triumph through and over adversity. They started off homesteading in upstate New York, which got to be prohibitively expensive... and cold. They packed their lives into their trailer, and found their way down to Missouri. They’ve been homesteading here, ever since. They started off living in the trailer, while preparing the rest of the 30 acre property: with diverse forest, streams, fields, hills, and springs. The landscape was full of potential, but covered in brambles, and with no living structures or farmable land on it. They lived in the trailer for two years, outfitting the small space with an outhouse, woodstove, and external roof. During that time, they cleared many brambles, started a garden, and built the house that they now live in, a south-facing home set into the hillside, a beautiful, well-insulated, cozy, and lovingly built and lived in hobbit home.

Their land backs up against state land. It’s a magical property that fits their dreams, and they are further sculpting into being. They host farm volunteers (WWOOFers) and community events, that brings people together, shares their process with the community, and also garners them support with their various processes: building cabins, tending gardens, etc.

Jamie is mostly a self taught herbalist. She went through no formal training, but somehow got on the path, got hooked, and is now growing herbs, and turning them into luscious body products, which she sells at various festivals through the summer and autumn season. She also conducts plant walks and classes, and is a vibrant well spring of information, inspiration, and exuberant first hand experience.

St. Louis, IL

Friends of friends introduced me to him. He’s one of a healthy handful of foreigners who go to Taiwan, are deeply interested in the culture, spend a number of years there teaching English and immersing themselves in various elements of the traditional culture, then return to the USA. He returned to the USA to study Chinese medicine, and has now been in practice for longer than I’ve been alive, and exudes a peace and groundedness, with eyes that see, and questions that deepen, while opening, safely. With less than an hour to talk, I felt such space to share, and realized that I feel so much heartache around my search for further schooling, and the frustrations woven, therein. “Slow down,” said Michael, navigating between my jumbled and emotional words, “Breathe.” He caught up to me right before I drove away, handing me a book about constitutional analysis, from a Chinese medicine perspective, with Chinese medicinal plants, written by a Chinese man, in Chinese. Earlier, we’d discussed the book a little bit. He’d slipped it into my hands, “Try reading it.” I brokenly edged my way around the medicinal terms, but easily read through more simple colloquial words... and was surprised at how many characters I recognized and gained a general meaning from, even if I didn’t know the exact word, or meaning. “I think you should brush up on your medical Chinese,” said Michael, gifting me the book with a smile and nod. I was speechless.

Little actions create huge ripples.

You never know when you might change someone’s life.

Mulberry, IL

Rebekah grows plants, creates and sells herbal products, and teaches classes. She’s also a homeschool mother of three, homesteading family land with huge acreage that includes forest, fields, waterways, a pond, and more. We played music until late into the night, hands clapping against clay udus that she sculpted, instruments that came to her in dreams, and now gift the hands of many herbalists, and other plant lovers, Earth people. I watched her and her husband locking eyes, rhythms, and melodies during our little jam session. “If you can jam like that with someone,” he said afterwards, “then that’s Love.” We wove our way through the golden plant skeletons and muddy spring-time blessings the next morning, discussing death and life, dreams and possibilities. “I want this place to be for everyone,” said Rebekah, sharing her vision for the land, and her role in helping birth that into reality. Her basement studio is filled with her artwork, with a kiln, paintings, clay works, and a staggering amount of peace and joy, a certain intensity, sculpted into the air.

One day, I want to create art again, in a grounded fashion.

I love sculpting clay, too. And, gardens. And...?

I love this moment too, of climbing back into the car, albeit reluctantly, and with exhaustion. I’m grateful for the singsong strength of my engine purring, the solidity of rubber against road, this little metal house on wheels that encases me and all of my current belongings, zooming across the country, 1500 miles over lands that I know and don’t know, encountering people and places that hold up a mirror, sending back reflections brilliant, mind-shattering, and heart-opening, and send me reeling back into myself, to explode outward again in various threads of song, that weave a basket of understanding.

Inspiration.

Questions.

I spent too long reluctantly leaving New Mexico then slowly enjoying my way through AR and MO. I started speeding after IL, and the rest of the trip passed by in a blur.

The sun just rose over a frosty landscape, with woodpeckers and the morning chorus gently chirping the sun into being. My window is perfectly located, where I can watch the sunrise every morning. It’s good to stop driving, and to see the same people over and over again, day in and day out. I’m developing more solid and stable relationships, some new, some old. I’ve been here before, and it’s good to be back.

Meeting the rooted homesteaders along my trip greatly impacted my thoughts, as I sped down one windy icy road after another, lost in thought, foot poised between gas pedal, brakes, and gear shifter. Do I need graduate school? Do I want graduate school? Where do I want to live? How do I want to sculpt my life, dreams, and being? Where do I go from here?

This sun has risen and fallen on so many other questioning faces.

We kneeled on the icy and muddy earth. I rolled my tears onto my fingers, and gently mingled them with the sap, still bubbling over, like blood, from the inner bark of the 100-200 year old maple who, freshly cut, still stood, sentry like in its awkward new stumpliness, in front of the barn where so many children gather every week, to play games, sing songs, and share gratitude, then howl off into the distance, to explore all the possibilities of being wild, innocent, and free, in a complicated world.

Some things are still very simple.

I fold my bed back into the closet. I brew my morning tea, and sip and write, watching the sunrise, eyes closed to take in the sun, against hooded lids, feeling that ancient heat bathing my body, through the window.

A red tailed hawk loves sitting in the tree across from my window viewpoint. I watched its silhouette, right before the sunrise, as it soared up to the top branches, shaking its tail feathers, head pointed in the direction of the sun.

I breathe.

3.24.2015

"Creating Teas" class handout



Teas, Internally

Tea
1-2 T dried plants : 1 C hot water
Steep 3-10 minutes

Infusion
1 oz dried plants : 1 L hot water
Steep 20 minutes (standard) to overnight (for nutritive food-like herbs, only)

Decoction
1 oz dried plants : 1 L water
Start on stovetop, bring to a boil, simmer on low together for 20+ minutes

Note: If the plants are fresh, then more plant material is needed.

Teas, Externally

Wash
Soak, with strong infusion/ decoction

Steam
Cover, with steaming infusion/ decoction

Compress
Cloth soaked with warm infusion/ decoction, replaced as needed

Poultice/ fomentation
Mashed up plants, direct application

Steeping Styles
- Steep’n’Strain
- Cold infusion
- Hot infusion
- Overnight infusion
- Solar/ lunar infusion

Formulation
The triangle: primary, secondary/ supportive, tertiary/ corrigent herbs

Nourishing Infusions
- Nettles (Urtica dioica)
- Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
- Oatstraw (Avena sativa)
- Marshmallow (Althaea spp.; cold infusion only)
- Linden leaf (Tilia spp.)
- Violets (Viola spp.)
- Roses (Rosa spp.)
- Elm bark (Ulmus spp.; cold infusion only)
- Raspberry leaf (Rubus spp.)

Chai: basic recipe
Spices:
- Cinnamon 4
- Ginger 3
- Cardamon 2
- Nutmeg 1
- Black Pepper 1
- Cloves 0.5
Base:
- Black tea/ nourishing infusion
- Milk/ other fat

Articles from Other Resources

Wildcrafting

“Wildcrafting for the Practicing Herbalist,” by 7song

“Wildcrafting Checklist,” by Howie Brounstein

Herbal Actions and Energetics

“Herbal Actions and Energetics,” by jim mcdonald

Teas

“How to Develop your Tea-Tasting Palate,” by Mark Falkowitz (focusing on Taiwanese/ Chinese teas)

Infusions

“Nourishing Infusions,” by Susun Weed