The Women’s Land Army

It was a crisp spring morning in May, two years ago.
I was out on my morning run, the sun having barely crossed the horizon line.
The world is so quiet and peaceful right before daybreak…
I came around the corner near Dunks and noticed a man standing in the rubble that was once my church.
I stopped to watch him.
He looked up to the sky and I could tell he was in prayer.  He dropped to his knees and it was evident from the rise and fall of his shoulders that he was weeping. It was then that I understood he was one of them. One of the thousands (millions?) of children sexually assaulted by their priest.
If you have not yet seen the movie Spotlight, please make the time to.
It is important.
It is important that we stop sheltering the Catholic Church, who continue to harbor and celebrate sexual predators.

I watched him stand up and wipe his eyes. He kicked the pile of bricks with ferocity.
He spit on them, shook his head and walked back into the shadows.
Watching this broke my heart wide open.
I walked back home slowly, weeping. I was never violated in this particular building but I harbor my own wounds. Twenty-six years later, my body is still field of landmines. In spite of all the healing work and forgiveness, I am still so easily triggered.

And reader, last week I was triggered.
The landmine in the pit of my belly exploded, and it has ignited a fire.

Last week, my town released recommendations for guidelines for cannabis sales.
Within those guidelines is a restriction that would require a 500 foot buffer zone from a church.

A church.

I’m not going to elaborate on the sheer archaic, ludicrous, enabling, monstrous, financially befuddling logic of this recommendation. That would be fruitless.

I have learned that when one of these landmines goes off, it is my job to work through that rage and let the fire burn until I am refined to a place of forgiveness and productivity. The phoenix rose from the ashes and came to me in a dream last night…

The phoenix landed in the parking lot of my former church, where I was greeted by Saint Francis and his menagerie of animals. He walked me up the path, then lead me through an archway of roses…
rose garden

There were small painted rocks hidden among the flowers, with the names, images, quotes, prayers of hope, words of forgiveness.
painted-stone
In the back corner was a meditation pond, surrounded by white flowers. As the moon rose in the sky, we sat in stillness and watched the light reflect off the water, illuminating the entire space.

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And then he showed me all the people…women, men, children, digging their hands into this ground, transforming a space so steeped in shame and pain into one of grace and beauty.
And I felt healed.
And I asked him, “how do I make this happen? Show me the way.”
He smiled and answered “you already know the way. You just need to be brave enough to begin.”

When I woke up this morning, I saw with clarity that path before me.

It is my vision to transform the space that was once the grounds of Saint Francis, into a sanctuary. A garden of forgiveness and healing.
In the event that this space is unavailable, there are plenty of broken wounded plots of land in our fair metropolis that will serve the same purpose, but I kinda have my heart set on that lot.

Recently my friend Tiffany posted this image
land army
And it triggered something inside me.
I want to build an army.
An army of people committed to transform their community.
I want to plant gardens full of food and medicine. I want to clean the garbage out of vacant lots and fill them instead with flowers.
Hundreds of thousands of flowers.
Because I want to combat the hate and suffering that is happening on our planet with beauty. I want to plant seeds of hope in every pocket of sadness. I want community spaces that people will drive hundreds of miles to walk through because they are so enchanting, healing and magical.
Because I have hated long enough. I have carried this shame and rage and pain and suffering for long enough. I lay down these weapons of war and instead I claim my pitchfork.

Because that man who was weeping in my church rubble needs a place to find peace and forgiveness.  Because the words “me too” rippled across this land like a battle cry that needs to be honored.

I’m ready to break ground.
Are you?

Moon Session

On my walk out of the woods, I understood with clarity the work I am here to do.
I am a healer.
I am a writer.
I am an artist, a mystic, a misfit and a lover. Of life, people, plants animals…
I am here to be a helper.
I am here to weave you back together with your story, your purpose, your light.
I am here to be a witness of the divine.
To hold up a mirror and show you all the ways that you are all of these things, and more.
We are here to grow together.
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And what came to me in that space of acceptance was a healing protocol. Work I have been doing for years, but deeper.
We are here to connect with source. To find the place of balance between the sacred masculine and sacred feminine. We are here to restore balance to nature and find reverence for the life force on our planet. To connect with the sacred energies of earth, air, fire and water. To slow down. To nourish. To heal.

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The Earth has saved me more times than I can count. I have been foraged in the wild.
I want to be the vessel through which this wild earth heals you.

Beginning in February of 2018, I will be leading plant medicine (in the form of tea) and meditation classes on the Thursday closest to the full moon and energy work and art making on the Thursday closest to the new moon.  Location as yet to be determined, but my gut tells me sometimes this will happen at the top of the mountain, sometimes nearby a river, and other times still in various locations near North Adams.

Here’s the schedule:

February 1: Grounding with root medicine
February 15: Root healing with clay

March 1: Opening with Chaga Chai
March 15: Sacral center healing and water color

March 29: Revitalize with flower tea
April 12:  Solar Plexus: The art of balance with mobiles

April 26:  Self-love with leaf medicine
May 17:  Heart center with leaf and flower prints

May 31: Align your truth with adaptogens
June 14:  Throat center: Poetry prints with oil and water

June 28: Medicine of the mind
July 12:  Third Eye Collage and Vision boards

July 26: Detoxing and cleansing plants
August 9:  Crown center Sacred Jewelry

August 23: Rooting in wisdom with Elder
September 6:  Grounding with Mandala Stones

September 20: Plants that stimulate fertility and sexual energy
October 11:  Batik and Shibori prayer flags

October 25: Immune building with plants
November 8: Balance with Mobiles

November 22: Thanksgiving- gratitude and self-love
December 6: Gift Giving- creative space for holiday gift making

December 20: Closing Session. Releasing and Reflecting for the new year.
                          Intention setting for 2019.

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*If you would like to participate, but cannot be physically present, I will be creating a page which will contain each meditation/energy work session, detailed instructions on the art projects and a link to purchase the tea blends. You are welcome to harvest or make your own blends as well.

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I like to keep this kind of work cost effective and accessible to those with limited financial means.  Each session will be sliding scale $7-15.
You are not obligated to attend every session.  This is work you are committing to do for yourself.
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You need not have any particular art skills to participate. This is about practice not product. About giving ourselves permission to create, to be present.

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This work is open to both men and women.
For people who suffer from anxiety, sleep disturbance, lack of direction, a desire to create ritual and connection to the divine or simply take time to give yourself the gift of healing.

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I will be creating a separate course for children and will give you more information about that as soon as possible.

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This program will be open for registration in the next week or so.

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I believe with every fiber of my being, that 2018 is going to be a year filled with vibrant blessings. I want to help you create the pathways to receive those blessings.

Enjoy these last few days of 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of the Woods

On December 14, 1986 I woke up in head to toe pain.
On December 20, I was given a terminal diagnosis and told I had only a few weeks to live.
On December 23, in the middle of a risky procedure, I went into cardiac arrest. I watched myself leave my body. I was greeted by an angelic being of light and went to what can only be compared to a train station. The space between. I was made to understand things far beyond what a 10 year old rationally contemplates. There was no sense of time in this place, only peace and divine love. When I felt myself being pulled back into my body, I was angry. I wanted to stay. The angelic being touched my heart, assured me I was healed and explained my role here in this life at this time. Immediately, I was back in my body, completely healed.
On December 24, a legion of doctors and specialists came to my room and poked and prodded me, took blood samples and ran me through machines. There is no scientific explanation for why I am still alive. Doctors don’t believe in angelic being healing, none-the-less, I was proclaimed “a miracle.”
That’s a lot of fucking weight to carry at 10 years old.
That’s a heavy tale to carry around as truth, when nearly every adult you encounter will tell you it was all in your imagination. And they will medicate the fuck out of you until you agree with them.
Survivor’s guilt is a constant echo in the back of my mind every December. Why me?
I have never felt I belong here. One foot in this world, one foot in the next.
I vacillate between having full and deep reverence for life, and taking on the weight of the world and letting it crush me until I can’t breathe.
This is not an easy place to be an empath. I feel your pain. Literally.
And when I am not doing the things I know I need to do to clear and ground myself, to stay in the light, I become a magnet for darkness.
This was not an easy summer.
And like in the Neverending Story, the nothing just kept getting stronger, and darker and breaking my spirit until I could bear that crushing weight no more.
I walked into the woods one day, and had no intention of walking back out.
This was a conscious choice. I brought nothing with me but my knife.
Energetic pain is something I cannot put into words. Every molecule of my being hurt.
All day. Every day. There was no reprieve. The darkness had a grasp on me and I couldn’t find my way out. Release from this prison of skin and bones was the only map to freedom that I could see.
I am not afraid of dying.
I did not feel as though I was being a good mother in the darkness. The speckles of hope and sunshine were fleeting. The sense of drowning was constant.
There was freedom in this plan. I was simply lost in the woods. No one needed to know it was my choice. I didn’t leave a trail of breadcrumbs. There was no note, no ominous Facebook post. By the time anyone realized I was gone, the animals would have taken me. I walked so very deep into the woods.
When my feet could take me no further, I found a patch of moss and sat down.
I meditated. I connected with my spirit guides. I asked for permission to release from my body. I was reminded of free will. I was reminded that we all have assignments and karma to be worked out. I was made to understand the cost of hitting the reset button.
I made peace with this decision.
The blade was surprisingly cold against my skin. I rocked it back and forth against my arm, testing the pressure, breaking the surface. The blood rose past the opening, spilling out on to the moss and I was struck by how beautiful this contrast was.
I grazed the blade up and down my arm, gently. Ignoring the tattoos I placed on this space to deter such actions and focused only on the pain. The darkness.
I took a deep, slow breath in, summoning all of my courage, understanding that one burst of adrenaline would give me the strength to open my arm and set myself free.
I closed my eyes, gripped the handle tighter, inhaled….and then all the hair stood up on the back of my neck.
Animal.
I felt him before I saw him.
He caught the corner of my eye, jumping to a ledge up above me.
Mountain lion.
There are people who will claim that we don’t have mountain lions around here.
Those people can choke on a dick.
Add to my list of crazy features the ability to communicate with wild animals. They initiate this communication, so this is an unfortunate party trick I’ve never been able to capitalize on.
I cannot convey the communication that took place between us in terms of human dialog. It would be akin to playing you a symphony on a kazoo and expecting you to understand the subtle nuances of all those instruments with a tiny plastic toy.
You will have to trust me reader.
You will have to transcend your feeble understanding of reality and understand that a mountain lion scolded me to the point of threatening to mark me with his claws. You will have to imagine how terrifying it is to be followed, 5 hours out of the woods as the sun descends and actual darkness threatens to leave you alone with a flesh eater walking behind you.
And in that terror, I found my reverence again.  In that terror, he showed me the light.
He made me understand how exquisitely I have taken my life force, my power for granted. He made me see that I have spent 31 years feeling sorry for myself because I lived. And in that moment, I vowed to live.
And he let me.
We drew closer to the trail that I originally deviated from, and I came around the bend to see two deer standing directly in my path. I was made to understand that there is a balance to nature that we have stepped outside of. And I knew one of them would have to sacrifice their life to appease the hunger my selfishness had awoken. I felt that shame in my bones and I wept for my carelessness. They ran off and it was only a matter of  seconds before he claimed his balance.
I looked down at my arm, still dripping with blood.
I cast a circle around myself and greeted the 4 directions.
I grabbed an acorn and dug a hole.
I let my blood fill the hole and placed the seed inside.
I promised the earth, the cosmos, my guides and anything else that was listening that I would walk this path with reverence. That I would never take this life force for granted again. That I would strive for balance, and live in service to the light.
I covered the ground and patched my wound.
I stood up, took a deep breath and walked back out of the woods.

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EPILOGUE
Someone I care about took his life yesterday.
I knew in my bones the last time that I looked in his eyes that he would and that doesn’t make me ache any less for the people who loved him. There is nothing any of us could have done to stop him, the weight of this life became too much to bear.  I hold the unpopular opinion that we have free will and choosing to release on ones own terms is part of that free will. I could never judge anyone for surrendering.
This life is hard. It is dark and heavy and there is suffering around every corner.
Empty your pockets, every day; you need not carry all that darkness. 

Quills

Mothering a fierce, independent, wild-souled teenager is hard.

Bordering on torturous.

We’ve been struggling for months now. Years actually.

This morning was tough.
Every day is more tough than its not.  And every day I wake up to a fresh slate, I ask for the guidance to meet her needs without sacrificing too many of my own. I ask for wisdom. I woke up and knew today would be tough the minute my feet hit the floor.  And on these days, if it’s within my means, I climb my mountain. Because I know I need healing. Like a magnet I am pulled to her, and she heals me.

But not without some tough love first.

I started climbing and soon felt the profound presence of a wild animal. I thought is was the momma bear I often run into. We’ve developed a fond kinship over the past 6 years, so I was hoping to cross paths with her but as I rounded the bend it wasn’t momma bear, but a porcupine standing square in my path.

I was excited to see her, but then the tiniest head popped out from behind her and I got downright gleeful because baby porcupines are just about the cutest things on earth.

Mamma porcupine wasn’t havin it.
She hissed at me, turned and raised her quills. I found this endearing and was convinced she couldn’t possibly reach me, so I grabbed for my phone to snap a picture.

“You foolish human. Put that thing away. Give her reverence. Immediately. ”
My spirit guide doesn’t fuck around and she’s not angelic by any stretch of the imagination. She keeps my shit in line.

I put the phone back, drew my hands up to my heart and slowly outstretched my arms and expanded my energy field to encompass her. She looked at me with both terror and curiosity. Quills still at full alert. I filled the space with divine love. I offered her peace. I assured her I meant neither her nor her adorable little baby any harm.
She wasn’t havin it.

“Walk around. I do not grant you safe passage.”
I was a little taken aback by this. I connect pretty easily with wild animals.
Porcupines and I kinda have a thing. I have a tattoo of one on my arm.
My ego was slightly wounded, but I continued sending the love and slowly lowered my arms. She lowered her quills simultaneously. Synchronicity.
“We are one.” I said
“Walk around” she replied.
Who I am to argue with an animal that rocks weapons?

I walked around, and she did not break her gaze from me. She made a noise and the baby scampered off to the bushes. I kept my gushing to a minimum because she was in no mood for my hippy shit today. I found a rock that was far enough away but still allowed us full view of each other.

I sat down and challenged her to a staring contest. Her brown eyes grew wider and she engaged me.

Immediately I was out of my body.
I was not alarmed by this, as I have been astral projecting since I was a child, but I found it peculiar to still be on the same mountain… in a different body.
An ancient version of myself, lifetimes ago, long before white men set foot on this land.

I was walking in the woods with my wolf. My mother, our clan’s medicine women had sent me on a task to gather plants and I was angry by this. I didn’t want to follow this lineage. I didn’t want to take care of people and stay bound to our clan. I didn’t want to learn these stupid plants or spend my days pounding roots, cooking salves. My sights were set to the mountains beyond this one. Who lived there? What were they like? My mother often yelled at me that I had a wandering spirit and I needed to stop this nonsense of leaving. I was bound by blood to serve my clan. And I resented this with every fiber of my being.  I hated her. I hated my clan. I hated this mountain. I hated gathering plants.
I would show her.
I would not come back tonight.
She would know guilt and pain and that would teach her.

I veered off the path and started heading west- towards the sun and into the valley. I would show her. The sun began setting and my wolf whimpered. She looked at me confused, but I assured her, we would just have an adventure for the night and we would head back tomorrow. She did not approve and this made me laugh.  Night fell and I built a fire. I knew it was unsafe to sleep on the ground, even with a wolf at my side. I found a tree with a nice forked limb and climbed it so I could sleep without fear of falling, but it was dark and as I reached my chosen limb, it was already inhabited by a porcupine. I startled her and she sent her quills at me. Three landed in my leg. I fell out of the tree, landing right on them, snapping the outer portion off, and lodging them deep in my leg. No broken bones, but I spent the night wide awake, terrorized by the sounds of wild life nearby sensing my wound, clinging to my wolf.

At the first break of light we headed home and didn’t arrive until nightfall the following day. By then the infection had begun. I could feel it’s heat.

Rather than greet me with open arms, my mother screamed at me. “Where have you been?!? Do you know the trouble you have caused? A search party is out looking for you! What were you thinking? Were are the plants I asked you to gather?”  I told her little of what happened. I was ashamed by my selfishness, but too proud to apologize, or tell her of my wound. I would show her. I would heal it myself.

Days passed and the infection only grew worse. I was helping skin a deer when I grew faint and passed out. When I awoke, a full day later, my wound was dressed and my mother was holding me. My wolf was there. I was afraid because she was never this affectionate unless something was wrong. “My leg…” It was so hard to speak. I was weak.
“Don’t speak. I see the quills. I tried to remove them but they are too deep. Why didn’t you tell me, sweet one?” she stroked my hair out of my face and her hand felt cold and soothing. “I wanted to show you I could heal myself. I’m sorry.” The tears fell from my eyes. She handed me willow bark tea. It was strong. I would sleep well. Only I never woke up. I fell into a deep coma and died shortly thereafter. I watched my mother from the in-between space for a long time after my death. She was consumed by grief and guilt. She renounced her healing abilities and succumbed to mental illness. She died a cold and lonely death in the middle of winter, no one by her side.

She greeted me in the in-between space.

We exchanged no words, but I saw that around her waist was a yellow chord attached to what looked like heavy boulders. The chord bound her to repeat the cycle of mental illness, guilt and shame. I began untying the knot and together we un-wound the chord. On the last loop, it transformed to dandelions, then fluff and they blew away in the wind. Everything felt lighter. My wolf appeared. I recognized her as my dog from this lifetime,  and came to the realization that exactly 15 years ago today I had to put her to sleep. She communicated with me “I have been with you many lifetimes. Twice I was with you in your current life, at your birth and at your daughters. I will return again when you are ready for me.” I wrapped my arms around her and wept with joy and sadness. I have missed her so.

I stood again and reached my right hand to touch my ancient mother’s heart and she did the same. We leaned in and touched foreheads, and for a moment I understood. There was deep forgiveness.  We were suspended in infinite love.
It was so beautiful, it overwhelmed me, and the tears rolled down my face, landing on my leg and bringing me back into the conscious here and now.

The porcupine and I were still locked in each other’s gaze.

I was completely disoriented until I heard the slight whimper of her baby in the bushes, patiently waiting for this interaction to run it’s course.

I raised my hands to my heart.
I spoke aloud.
“I forgive you for taking my life, all those lifetimes ago. You were only protecting yourself. We are one and we are at peace.”

I bowed my head in gratitude and she nodded, turned and scampered off to her baby.

I sat, utterly bedazzled for a few moments processing what had just transpired.
I let my tears run dry.
I caught my breath, stood up and as I released my hands to my side, they brushed 15 years of quills protruding from my heart.

I resumed my ascent, carefully and meticulously removing each one and discarding them on the path.

“I forgive you, my sweet porcupine girl. I forgive you. This time around, we’ll get it right.”

 

Sidenote: If you are at all curious about past life work, I highly recommend scheduling a session with the lovely Heather Bates. I find this work fascinating, deeply healing and though it is intense and requires an open heart and mind, it is well worth it.

 

 

The Gift of Resources

I generally find the holidays abysmally stressful.
This year, I’ve decided instead to be grateful for everything I have, most especially my health. 30 years ago, I was diagnosed with a terminal illness and given mere weeks to live.
I believe in miracles.
I believe the body can heal from anything.

Below are a list of healing resources that I value immensely in my quest for optimum health. I would like to share them with you, in hopes that they will inspire you to embrace your own natural ability to heal.

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1. CLEARING YOUR ENERGY
Most of us wouldn’t leave the house before brushing our teeth, but have probably never thought “I should clean up my energy field before I interact with other humans.”
If this is something you are curious about, I highly recommend Christie Marie Sheldon as a teacher.

2. CONSCIOUSNESS ENGINEERING
We are co-creators of our own reality. Everything we do is a choice. Everything. You have chosen every action, every lesson, every encounter to bring you to this place in your life. The concept of engineering your consciousness so you can navigate these choices with wisdom was developed by MindValley Academy founder Vishen Lakhiani.

3. BREATH WORK
Americans are traditionally very shallow breathers. We rarely get enough oxygen into our system, for a variety of reasons.  Simply taking 1 minute to breathe deeply and consciously each day can have a dramatic effect on your health and well being.

4. VIBRATIONAL ATTUNEMENT
Every single thing on this planet is vibrating at a particular frequency.  The frequency I find most healing is 432Hz.  I often play binaural beats featuring this frequency as background music.

5. HALOTHERAPY
I have had severe asthma my entire life. This required daily nebulizer treatments and a steroid inhaler. In 2012 I started exploring the use of halotherapy as a means of healing rather than managing my asthma. I haven’t used a nebulizer or inhaler since 2013 and I attribute this solely to learning breathwork (#3),  using a salt inhaler  (rather than a chemical based one) and regularly drinking mullein tea.
*Mullein grows quite abundantly in the North East. I am happy to show anyone who would like to try this remedy how to properly identify this plant

6. EPSOM SALT BATH
This one is an extension of halotherapy, but more specifically focuses on detoxification. I rarely go more than 2 days without taking a hot epsom salt bath.

7. HEALERS
Here’s a list of healers that have changed my life:
Caroline Myss
Andrew Weil
Alberto Villoldo
Anne McIntyre
Rosemary Gladstar
Susun Weed
Carol Tuttle
SARK
Doreen Virtue
Basically anything published by Hay House

8. ALKALINE FOODS
The American diet is not conducive to optimum health. Especially during the winter months it’s important to eat alkaline foods every day!

9. EARTHING
This is a much more comprehensive explanation of earthing than I could give you.

10. KANSA WAND
All it took was one ayurvedic massage with a kansa wand and I was immediately hooked.
Get yourself one, you won’t be disappointed.

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I hope these resources are helpful and that your life is filled with wellness and health.

~ Blessings~

 

 

 

 

 

 

Immune Boosting 101

As someone born with poor immune function and hypersensitive to everything, I have spent the majority of my life dreading “flu season.”
I gave Dr. Hyde, my pediatrician, a run for his money with strange allergic reactions, 4 rounds of the flu in 1 winter, 6 months of pneumonia, mono, strep, staph infections, broken bones, low lung function, pancreatitis…. all by the age of 10.

“She’s a sickly child.”

I resigned myself to this.

I let these words sink in.

I took the medications they gave me.

I do not fault western medicine by any stretch of the imagination. But I do know that if I had followed that path of treatment and logic, I would not be sitting here typing today.  It was only through near death and decades of suffering that I stumbled upon the path of natural healing.  I do not have any of the dis-eases that I was diagnosed with as a child and told they would be lifelong problems.  I am healed. I believe the human body is resilient and can heal or recover from anything.

One of the biggest faults of Western Medicine is lack of preventative care.  Has your PCP ever taught you how to prepare your immune system for the onslaught of cooties coming your way? Mine either.

Let me be your guide.

There is no avoiding germs. I don’t care how often you wash your hands or bathe yourself in hand sanitizer. It is my humble theory, that once bacteria and viruses enter our bodies and make their way to our bellies, they multiple like crazy and shift us quickly into a state of sickness or dis-ease. Both bacteria and viruses THRIVE in a  warm, acidic environment which is exactly what the American diet produces.  Fats, sugars, carbohydrates are all on the acidic side of the scale.

Immune boost #1:  ALKALINITY

If you can neutralize the PH in your digestive tract, you eliminate the breeding ground for germs. You do this by introducing alkalinity into your body.

Dr. Oz will hook you up with a list of alkaline boosting foods. Though, ignore #4.
Don’t eat that shit.

I eat raw kale or spinach every day, year round.

I also start my day with 8oz of very warm water and either a squeeze of lemon juice or a teaspoon of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar.

I absolutely LOVE  Fire Cider, and in spite the good intentions of the folks who trademarked this beloved title of an old folk remedy, let me share with you my base recipe, free of charge.

FIRE CIDER RECIPE

1/2 cup fresh grated organic ginger root

1/2 cup fresh grated organic horseradish root

1 medium organic onion, chopped

10 cloves of organic garlic, crushed

2 organic jalapeno peppers, chopped, seeds included

1 organic lemon with skin, chopped

Several sprigs of fresh organic rosemary & thyme

1 tbsp organic turmeric powder

1/4 tsp organic cayenne powder

Raw organic apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup Raw honey (preferably from a local bee keeper)

 

 

Directions

Open a window so the fumes from the roots don’t make your eyes water too much. Grate and chop everything and toss it in a 32 oz mason jar.  Use a piece of natural parchment paper or wax paper under the lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal lid. Cover. Shake well! Store in a dark, cool place for one month and remember to shake daily.

After one month, use cheesecloth to strain out the pulp, pouring the vinegar into a clean jar. Be sure to squeeze as much of the liquid goodness as you can from the pulp while straining.  Pour back in the jar and add your honey. Cover and give it another good shake– boom.

You just made your own Fire Cider.

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Immune Boost #2: Anti-virals & Anti-bacterials

Every August, you see the signs start popping up “Get your flu shots here!”

Let me preface my anti-flu shot rant by saying I am 100% pro-vaccination.

Safe vaccination.

Effective vaccination.

The warning label on the flu vaccine clearly states:  “There have been no controlled trials adequately demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination.” Huh.

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Viruses are tricky lil fuckers. When you contract a virus , the practice is to ride it out, because science can’t quite figure out how to lasso this wild creature. I have mad respect for viruses. They are the ultimate outlaw.

The best way to navigate the virus is to pump your body full of plants that are loaded with antiviral properties.

What exactly does that mean?

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This pretty lil beast gets into your body, then it starts poking its way right into your cells, bursting them wide open and multiplying by the billions. All day.
Nasty lil badasses.
The properties of anti-viral plants actually build a protective barrier around your cell membranes, essentially rendering them impervious.
Is this a flawless system? Hell no. Look at that flu virus. It does not fuck around. However, I say without reservation that antiviral plants are WAAAAAAAAAAY more effective than that vial fulla chemical cocktail they make a gozillion dollars off of every year.
*You would think we would have the lowest incidence of flu outbreak being that we are inoculated with 400x the flu vaccine than the rest of the world.

Huh [end rant]

thT

This beauty is Sambus nigra, more commonly known as Elderberry. For those readers residing in the 413/518 region, this grows abundantly right in our backyard and it’s what your great grandmothers harvested before they were demonized as witches for cooking their own medicine in their own kitchens. Work of the devil!

I am undoubtedly the plant geekiest woman you know, so I say without reservation that when I see these berries start to turn dark purple, I wait with baited breath for them to grown heavy on the stalk and droop downward, stalks purple with anthocyanin goodness. I pull on my boots (poison ivy will be the death of me…mark my word), gleefully grab my basket and spend days gathering.

*Please note: I am a humble wildcrafter, I only ever gather 1/3 of what any tree has to offer and I plant numerous trees every year to keep our local supply thriving. 

I make several things with these berries, but the primary purpose is elderberry syrup. My children have never had either a flu shot or the flu (knock on wood). They take this every day from October 1- May.
Ok, let’s be frank.  Not every day. I’m no super mom. They take it often, all winter long and I believe in it’s efficiency in keeping them healthy.

I am happy to sell anyone a bottle, but honestly,  I love encouraging and empowering people to make their own. I add a few other things to mine that I won’t get into today, but here is my base recipe:

ELDERBERRY SYRUP RECIPE: 

1 cup fresh elderberries or 1/2 cup dried

4 cups water

1 cup raw honey

Directions:  Put the berries in a non-aluminum pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, lower the temp and simmer on low for 45 minutes. Let cool to room temp and strain through cheesecloth or a fine sieve making sure to squeeze out all the juice. Compost or put the remains in a bottle and cover with 100proof vodka, just because why not drink elderberry infused vodka?!
Pour the liquid in a jar and stir in the honey. I like to warm the honey just a tiny bit to loosen it, but don’t ever heat honey or pour directly in boiling tea. You’ll kill all the awesome bee mojo.
Ta-da!  So easy.

Here is a comprehensive list of antibacterial and antiviral herbs written by an awesome blogger because I don’t believe in wheel reinvention.

That’s it.

2 steps to a boosted immune system.

Ok, and the obvious things like get enough sleep, wash your hands, exercise, don’t eat processed foods all day, etc.
Do all those too.

Be well 🙂

 

Dandelion Love

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Every spring and throughout the growing season, the earth does this beautiful thing and blesses us with plants that are loaded with exactly the medicinal properties our body needs at that particular time. We understand the concept of eating seasonally, right?…take that up a notch and nourish your body with what’s currently growing medicinally and you will feel phenomenal. I swear.

Dandelion is one of the first things to pop-up in the spring, and what a kick-ass little powerhouse it is. Every part– leaf, flower, root — has medicinal value.

So, what do you do with it?

LEAF
1. Go outside with some scissors and a collecting container.
2. Snip the leaves. I usually harvest less than 30% of anything, but if you’re just going to mow them anyway, then have at it and pick them all.
3. Rinse them off and pat dry. Add to any salad mix, eat them as is or toss them in a pan with some garlic, olive oil and shitake mushrooms.
4. Why should you eat these, you ask?

FLOWER
Make Dandelion WineDandelion Syrup or Dandelion Iced Tea.
Live on the edge and experiment.

ROOT
“Bitters” are my favorite way to take the extracted medicinal properties of the root.
I love this simple recipe for Bitters.
(*Sometimes I add 2T dried orange peel too)

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Honestly, I don’t know how the dandelion became such an object of loathing on the American lawn, but let’s stop that madness, shall we?

*Don’t forget to save some for making wishes.

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And watch this just because baby laughter is good medicine.

Breast Cancer Awareness

Yesterday I fell for one of those silly repost challenges to bring awareness to breast cancer. And while I have an excellent sense of humor, I don’t see how a status about buttered slugs or whatever draws any awareness. So, here’s my 2 cents on breast cancer awareness instead…
As a healer and a scientist I can’t help but question why the United States leads the world (by quite a hefty margin) in breast cancer deaths. What are women doing differently here than the rest of the world?

The major difference is that American women keep their breasts imprisoned in metal and darkness.

The Underwire Bra
Until 2 years ago, I had, as my ex-boyfriend so eloquently described them, “massive cans.” 36F. The decision to have a reduction was one driven by the fact that I was in constant pain. I woke up with back pain and regardless of meds, yoga, the chiropractor or the most supportive mattress manufactured, the pain never went away.
Running was a 3 bra mission.  How can anyone expect to have any level of lung capacity with 3 bras on? I have permanent dents in my shoulders from 20yrs of carrying massive cans. Not wearing an underwire bra was never an option for me, and yet I knew that it was effecting my breast health. The intuitive healer in me never felt right putting it on in the morning. And all women know the best part of the day is when you get to take off your bra- this goes triplicate for anyone Dcup and up. There is a sound effect in my head as they spill out- FREE!

Tough Mudder 2012, rockin 3 bras

Tough Mudder 2012, rockin 3 bras

So what’s so bad about the wire? Or any tight bra for that matter? Constricting lymphatic drainage is not a healthy practice. Restricting blood flow, also not a good idea. There are many prestigious organizations- Susan G. Komen, Breastcancer.org, Health.com, WebMd,  etc, that claim to not really know what causes breast cancer  or make claims that “there is no scientific link between underwire bras and breast cancer.” I call bullshit, and will simply say, that breast cancer is a billion dollar industry. So is women’s lingerie. Profit margins will debunk science any day of the week. That research is suppressed, but it’s out there. Dig around.

Antiperspirant

When I was 12, I got a horrible rash from antiperspirant and was unable to use it from that point on. I didn’t fully embrace my hippystink until much later in life, so there were some painfully awkward years as an athlete in my teens…
How does antiperspirant work anyways? Your body releases toxins through your sweat glands. The sweat glands in our armpits are powerhouses for draining any toxins that are pumping through your lymphatic system. Antiperspirants job is to plug those sweat glands to prevent them from both opening and from releasing the toxin filled sweat, and the deodorant’s job is to mask any odor that might be attached to said toxic sweat. The problem is, those toxins are SUPPOSED to leave your body. So where do they go instead? Toxins love to deposit in fatty tissue. The closest fatty tissue on a woman is her breasts. Where do those toxins go on a man? Scientifically, I don’t think there’s a blanket answer. As an intuitive healer, I say the stomach region.

Darkness

I was your classic tomboy as a child, and I loved being naked, I so can remember my mother forcing me to put on a full bathing suit, much to my dismay. It wasn’t until my teen years, prom season that I had the notion to take my top off for some sun (tan lines with a strapless?! absofknlutely NOT!) and realized how lovely this felt. I’m not going to try to explain the benefits of sunlight exposure on an electromagnetic/energetic level as I see/experience them as an energy healer because it won’t make much sense, but think about how you feel if you go for long periods of time without direct exposure to sunlight? Shitty, right? How long has it been since your breasts saw sunlight?

CHALLENGE
So the likelihood that you’re going to stop wearing an underwire bra, throw out your deodorant and go topless are pretty slim….I get it.

1. Go wireless as often as possible. Get that thing off the minute you get home. Massage your breasts for a few minutes immediately afterwards. Cut the wire out of one of your bras and wear that one whenever possible. If you can, go braless! (May the gods bless you Dr. Basil Michaels for giving me nobraneeding breasts)

2. Free your sweat! Ok, so you don’t want to sweat at work, that’s reasonable. As soon as you get home from work and definitely before you exercise (and you should exercise for at least 30 minutes every day, even if that just means taking a walk)- wet a facecloth with hot water and wipe out your armpits, then scrub them with any bodyscrub of your choice (or make your own with equal parts fine sea salt & baking soda, mix in some olive oil until it’s paste consistency) and rinse off with the hot wash cloth. Leave your armpits clean and go do something sweat-inducing: run, brisk walk, play with your kids, roll in the sheets with your significant other, ride a bike… keep your armpits free of chemicals for the remainder of the day. Whenever possible, use as little as possible to block the sweat glands in your armpits. There’s a bazillion natural, chemical-free deodorants that work really well.

3. Go topless If you’re not accustomed to topless sunbathing, start out slow. This is obviously for your poor albino ladies as well as the fearfactor. You might be a smidge nervous the first few times…”what if someone sees me?!” Find a safe spot, bring a friend, or simply refuse to give a fuck, they’re your breasts and they deserve some healthy sun exposure!
*May there come a day in our lifetimes, when we can– without shame, worry about a less than perfect body, fear of being caught, arrested, or violated– take our tops off and sun our breasts in peace.

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ps. I know nobody will read my status but sometimes, when I’m bored, I get wrapped up in a sleeping bag and lather butter all over myself and slide around the kitchen floor pretending I’m a slug.
– There. Breast Cancer Awareness shared 😉

The Benefits of Caster Oil

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Castor oil is derived from the bean of Ricinus communis or Palma Christi plant (palm of Christ). The Palma Christi has been used therapeutically for centuries in the folk medicine of ancient India, China, Persia, Africa, Greece, Rome and the Americas.  Taken internally, castor oil is a strong cathartic (meaning it will really help you poop).   As an external oil pack, it has been used to treat a variety of health conditions such as arthritis, liver and intestinal disorders, tumors, breast and ovarian cysts, fibroids, congestion of abdominal organs, small benign cysts, skin conditions and adhesions from surgery.  Wherever there is congestion, decreased blood flow and need for healing, castor oil can be an effective treatment option.

How does Castor oil work?

Research has shown that castor oil has a unique chemical profile rich in ricineoleic acid which in nature exists only in castor oil. Double blind studies conducted by the Association for Research and Enlightenment, Inc. demonstrated that in the group that used castor oil packs, there was an increase in lymphocyte production and the level of activity of T-cell lymphocytes originating from bone marrow and the thymus gland. These lymphocytes are used in the body to identify and kill invaders such as virus, bacteria and fungi.

In addition to strengthening the immune system, castor oil appears to have a balancing effect on the autonomic nervous system, increasing liver activity and improving digestion.

When castor oil is absorbed through the skin from packs, several extraordinary events take place. The lymphocyte count of the blood increases as a result of the oil’s positive influence on the thymus gland, lymphatic tissue, or both. The flow of lymph increases throughout the body, speeding up the removal of toxins surrounding the cells and reducing the size of swollen lymph nodes. The end result is a general overall improvement in organ function with a lessening of fatigue and depression.

Additionally, as toxicity is reduced, the pH of the saliva becomes less acidic, signaling improved health, and the Peyer’s patches in the small intestines more efficiently absorb fatty acids, which are essential for the formation of hormones and other components necessary for growth and repair.

What is a castor oil pack and how is it used?

You can use a castor oil pack on your abdomen, or any area that is calling for attention and needs healing, or you can simply soak your feet for 30 minutes in a pan of warm castor oil, followed by a nice foot rub.

Instructions for preparing a castor oil pack follow:

Materials:

Unbleached white wool or cotton flannel (or more cheaply, you can purchase Gerber Organic Diaper inserts in packs of 6 at Target, Walmart or Penny’s – the material may be organically grown, but they are so white they must be bleached, so wash before you use them)

Towels and unbleached parchment paper or brown paper bags (to reduce staining)

Heating pad, hot water bottle, or hot stones

Directions for preparing:

1.  Bring a pan of water to a gentle boil, then remove from heat. Pour castor oil in a mason jar and place in the pot of water. Heat water until castor oil becomes warm, about 5 minutes.

2. Place parchment paper, or a brown paper bag, on a flat cookie sheet, then place the cloth on top. Pour the hot castor oil on the flannel or cloth until it is well saturated but not dripping.  (The pan allows you to pour without messing and to easily carry it.)

3.  I prefer to lie on a yoga mat on the floor, but you can lay on a couch or bed if that is more comfortable. Protect the surface where you will rest with a towel before lying down.

3.  Place the castor oil soaked cloth over your abdomen or other area to be treated, (the unbleached parchment paper or paper bag will now be on the top).

4.  Cover and secure everything with a heavy towel; this helps to retain the heat and keeps the heating source from getting oil on it.

5. Apply a heat source (heating pad or hot water bottle) on top of the towel and maintain a constant warmth throughout the treatment.  An alternative method without heat would be to secure the pack with a towel wrapped and pinned around your body, and leave in place overnight.

6.  Relax for 1-1 ½ hours and repeat 3 days in a row.

7.  When you remove the pack, massage the remaining oil into the skin or clean it off with a solution of 2 tablespoons of baking soda mixed in 1 quart of warm water. This is very effective when followed with Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy.

8.  You may save the same pack and reuse it each day, just pouring more castor oil on each day.  Each cotton flannel pack may be reused 4-6 times if between usages it is kept in a plastic container and refrigerated. Packs can be stored in a plastic bag or glass jar for six months to a year as long as it does not become rancid or soiled. With use, the pack gradually absorbs toxins.  Therefore, after a maximum of 6 uses, discard the pack and make a new one. It is not recommended to try to wash out the pack for re- use nor should it be shared among persons.

9.  After 3 days of castor oil packs, continue for the next three days with self-care only, massaging the abdominal area with olive oil.

10.  Rest on the seventh day.

Relax while doing the castor oil pack, listen to soft music, meditate, journal or read.  Quietly meditating will connect the mind and body healing energies and assist the spiritual essence of the plant to assist in your healing.  Journal any thoughts, feelings, or images that occur during this meditative treatment.

PLEASE NOTE: Heat should not be used in conditions where it is normally contraindicated, such as appendicitis, diabetic neuropathy, heavy bleeding or over the abdomen during pregnancy. However, the castor oil pack can be used without heat in these conditions.

Consult your health care provider if you have any questions.

On rare occasions, a rash can occur at the site. To avoid this you can wash the oil off after your treatment with a weak solution of 1 TBL baking soda to one cup of warm water.

21-Day Recharge

August 10-30
Similar to a detox, the 21-day recharge will utilize the benefits of medicinal plants to nourish your body systems and the inclusion of mindful practices to help you make subtle shifts in your perception and consciousness that will guide you towards your path of optimum health.
This will be beneficial for anyone suffering from :
*Digestive ailments
*Hormonal issues
*Fatigue
*Difficulty losing weight
*Insomnia
*Allergies
*Asthma
*Arthritis
Essentially, anyone who is feeling less than vibrant health would benefit from nourishing their body systems to promote health and well being.

What this program will include:
*Health Consultation to customize your individual re-charge needs.
*Daily guided mediation, with additional optional suggestions for making the best of your 21 days.
*Customized nourishing plant infusion blend for morning consumption.
*Customized tea blend for night time.
*Medicinal Plant infused Oxymel
(Raw vinegar & Raw Honey) to neutralize gut PH.
*Liver support tonic.
*Body/Mind/Spirit projects to optimize your experience.

Cost of program $120 if you pay in full upon registering.
$125 for the installation plan, which requires a $50 deposit required upon registering.The rest can be made in weekly payments of $25.

Payment options:
Cash- by arrangement or on Saturdays at the North Adams Farmer’s Market from 9am-1pm
Check- same as above or mail to: Shannon Toye 191 Ashland St. #111 North Adams, MA 01247

Space is limited, and registration will end on Monday, July 28.

Your supplies will be available for pick-up every Saturday at the North Adams Farmer’s Market from 9-1pm.

*If you live beyond driving distance, shipping costs will be additional.

Please feel free to contact me with any question or concerns at:
setoye@gmail.com or on Facebook at “Out of the Woods Wildcrafting”