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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in herbs

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

I met herbalist Lindsay Wilson when she presented “Restoring Digestive Health,” a day-long workshop at the Organic Growers School’s Harvest Conference near Asheville, NC.

(Photo of Lindsay Wilson courtesy of Luisa Porter, Catfish Alley Magazine)

Her name was already familiar to me. Since publishing The Woman's Belly Book, I continue to delve into the body center's role in every dimension of our well-being. When I was looking into the connection between soil depletion and our ability to replenish the gut bacteria so important to our physical and mental health, I found Lindsay's helpful blog post titled Eat Dirt.

Along with a gastroenterologist and a naturopath, Lindsay figures in Give thanks for beneficial gut bacteria and feed them well, my recently published article in Asheville's weekly newspaper, the Mountain Xpress. "Our gut is a garden," she says, and you can read her suggestions for cultivating that garden here and here.

Now settled in Mississippi, Lindsay lived north of Asheville for several years. I was curious about her connection to Western North Carolina and asked her: What influence has your time in this region made upon the ways you understand and address digestive health?

Her answer details a deepening relationship with the natural world:

I moved to Spring Creek, just outside of Hot Springs, in the Winter of 2009-10. I became the Retreat Manager at a 30-year-old silent, contemplate retreat center called Southern Dharma. While working there, I continued to deepen my interest and awareness around digestive health.

As the retreat manager, I took all of the basic enrollment information from retreat participants. One of the questions asked about food sensitivities or intolerances they had. I was really surprised by all of the various digestive issues people had and that further solidified my interest in digestive health.

After my time there, I worked on a farm near Max Patch for a year or so. I grew a good bit of my food and foraged for greens, berries, and mushrooms as well. Even though I had always had a garden, working with the soil and the land on this scale was eye-opening. I began to have quite a few insights into the nature of our digestive complaints and our disconnection with the basics of life. I began to see that soil work...was indeed...soul work.

Living in the mountains was simply mesmerizing. I charted and took note of what was in season and how that particular food or herb was relevant to health of the body at that time of year. I named certain seasonal phenomena and observed nature because there was no distractions and only time. For example, I started to call the fruiting season the "berry wave," which was a steadily ripening flow of berries from mulberries in the early season to autumn olives in the very end of the season.

Basically, with the stark beauty of the Pisgah Forest, I began to see the impeccable timing of it all. Jessica Prentice's book Full Moon Feast was in my possession and I read it for the third time while living there. Her book was about certain indigenous and traditional cultures that had named the thirteen cycles of the moon.

These names were also connected with seasonal phenomena of a particular bioregion, something I began to call Seasonal Intelligence. I even taught two on-line courses on this, using the framework of Traditional Chinese Medicine and their five seasons and related organ systems. The participants and I met on the phone each season so that I could present a basic framework of how to use food and herbs in a seasonal context.

Living in the mountains was a real boon to my understanding of natural cycles and my place in it all.  I am forever grateful for the experience!

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    She's a terrific teacher. I met her last year at SEWWC.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Aspiring Naturalist

Someone told me today that someone else had mentioned to them that I don't just say, "oh look, a bird," but name them, "oh look, a kestrel," and I tell them about the plants... "this is echinacea, it's good for immune system stimulation."

Hearing this made me rather happy, since it has always been my dream to be someone who can identify flora, fauna, and other parts of nature. I haven't formally studied naturalism, botany (beyond a plant biology class in college), ornithology (birds), herbal medicine, or other such things, but I have picked up a fair bit in a broad sampling kind of way. I probably wouldn't measure up to most foragers, herbalists, or naturalists, but I'm on my way. It was gratifying to hear that I give that impression.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Happy Earth Day 2015! Gaia's Mantle

Starlight and brilliance of
Sun's solar flare
White and golden red
Woven tapestry of
Jet black Cosmos.

Green and brown
Of fertile land
Blue of sun kissed
Watery basin.

Rainbow of color
Spread across
Pattern of cloth
Textured and etched
In crystal and stone.

Blackness of heated striation
Of rock's core as gentle bud
Pushes upward towards sun's
Radiant blessing as Gaia sheds
Her parched skin and dons Spring's
Celestial mantle of lusty fertility.

This post is excerpted from my online course, A year and a Day on the Wiccan Path. It was part of the lesson focusing on The Natural World and seemed most fitting in celebration of Earth Day 2015. Enjoy!

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Fly in the Ointment

In 1547 a woman haled before the Inquisition at Navarre to answer charges of witchcraft managed to outwit her captors and escape.

She had secreted her jar of unguent on her person. Before the incredulous eyes of her judges, she transformed into a screech owl and flew away through a window.

The story is not difficult to understand. The active alkaloids of flying ointment are toxic when taken internally. There is escape and escape.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Just A Song at Twilight

Today was laundry day. And unpacking day. And grocery-shopping day. I returned late yesterday from Festival of Souls near Memphis and it was my second festival in as many weeks. I am grateful to be home to settle into Samhain and wash my socks.

Two weeks ago, I was teaching at the Southeast Wise Women's Conference, which used to be called the Southeast Women's Herbal Conference. It is exactly what it sounds like. In a gorgeous mountain setting--that was the site of the old Black Mountain College.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

It's late August. The grass is bleached blond, the weeds at the roadsides are turning brown, and I'm starting to feel reminiscent about rainy weather. But there is a quality of light in late August that says summer is waning, and the bright half of the year is winding down. In a month we're going to turn the corner and the dark half is going to begin, and that's when we will find ourselves indoors more. Now is a good time to consider whether we're ready to be cooped up with ourselves. Are we ready for the inward turning that often happens in the winter? Are there things we'd like to let go of, so that we don't have to carry them into the shadows with us?

b2ap3_thumbnail_rosemary4.JPGDuring the last days of this August, we can harness not only the energy of a waning moon, but also the energy of the waning year, to help us with this process.

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  • Michelle Simkins
    Michelle Simkins says #
    Lizann, thanks for visiting.
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for this lovely reminder of letting go.

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