in praise of the fever dream

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—NOTE: As with every word in this blog this reflects my personal experience only, and is in no way meant to judge others, treat illness, or sell you crap.—

After a hot hot hot spruce bath and some linden/elderflower infusion I find myself in bed, floating through worlds, my bones burning and my mind drfiting up and up. Alternating between hot and cold with one sock halfway off I am dreaming and tossing about, waking occasionally to feebly reach for water or a lymphatic tincture.
It’s a fever dream, and I’m giving my body space to heal itself. After getting the un-fabulous advice, at a party, that “sudafed and benadryl are good for sinus infections” I find myself musing on what we—mothers, healers, our culture–have given up. If we pop a sudafed-tm-every time we fall ill we are denying ourselves the opportunity to build our OWN knowledge about the human body. This fever is giving me information about myself. It is giving me words and phrases, showing me my fears and my strengths.
I believe that it is part of life to fall ill, to feel our blood ice up and our brain catch fire. How else can we know what is possible? How can sudafed teach us what healing means?
And every time I hear folks ask me what they can do to avoid illness I tell them that illness is an opportunity. Some of my favorite healers are seekers who see illness as a learning experience. Our wisdom is hard-won and comes from hands-on experience which sometimes gets messy. Illness teaches us how to support healing, how to get out of the way of healing, and puts the knowledge and the feeling into our own hands, puts the power into us. Popping wal-mart echinacea pills every day is a suppressive technique. Taking unnecessary medications (natural or pharmaceutical) to suppress symptoms is not “healing”.
I find my best healing comes from movement. Moving the lymphatics, moving mucous, moving stuck energy, activating digestion. Allowing the fever to do its’ job inside of us.
Because all of life is a learning opportunity. Hot weather is an opportunity to feel hot. Cold weather is an opportunity to feel cold. Discomfort is a gift which gives us the chance to learn what tools we have, as humans, to help ourselves and to support our bodies’ natural processes. We are so eager to dry humidity and make ice less slippery that we never understand what humidity feels like, or what slippery really means. We do not KNOW hot or cold. We do not SEEK to know.
The way that we are giving our own power away harms us, and our children too. It rewards people and corporations who will give us comfort at any cost. Those who can learn to accept some basic discomfort as a normal part of life will be prepared for whatever may happen. Allowing our children to feel a fever’s heat and chills is a gift which teaches them not to fear their bodies.
It is my wish to ride my fever like a surfer, accepting the fear, facing the mortality of my body. Because more so than those without fear, it is those who feel the fear then do it anyway who build power and wisdom. Neither sudafed nor benadryl will give a speck of wisdom or empowerment to us, and they will never teach us about our bodies capacity to heal itself.

NOTE: this was scriblled on my bedsite notebook during a fever. if that is what YOU consider “medical advice”, fine. however, it should be clear that i do NOT intend this to be medical advice!!!!!!!!

violence stacked up

Is the violence that this nation was founded upon a curse that is now haunting us?
In the forms of the bullshit we call “entertainment”-worms in our hearts and minds. In the forms of our actions against each other, sexual violence, physcial violence, murder. At our feet, constantly, is a debased relationship to the earth. Can anything be solved-ever-without recognizing that?
How can we possibly expect to fix this state of affairs with laws? Murder is already against the law.
We are reflecting generations of history now, history that was swept under the rug. Rape of people and land. Stolen bodies. Lynchings, hangings. Labor struggles. Children fed into looms, Women fed into factory fires, men’s bodies buried underground in mines forever.
If we fail to grapple with our own history and our relationship to the earth no law will prevent our children from opening fire upon each other.
If we fail to notice that our media is ultraviolent, manipulative, hypersexual, debased and fraudulent we will continue to pour it on ourselves like gasoline.
If we continue to send our people to fight brutal wars and kill others we will never, ever know peace in our hearts.
If we cannot recognize that humans have a need for healthy outlets to express ourselves, and that sometimes our expressions are seen by others as “violent”–but that has its place–this energy will keep exploding on us.
If we cannot stop treating animals and plants like objects which we deserve to treat like shit we will not be able to form healthy relationships with them.
If we do not deal with issues of class, race, gender, sexuality and religion in a way that spreads tolerance and awareness of others’ needs we will live in little boxes that crash into each other and make a mess.
I will never give up hope in my heart that this IS possible, that we can do it, and that someday we will all look around and realize that a better world is worth the work.

ass affirmation

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paradigm-bustin'!
paradigm-bustin’!
“What you gonna do with all that junk
all that junk inside your trunk?”
-Black Eyed Peas

Oh, yes, time for our daily affirmations:
‘I am a good person’.
‘I deserve love and cash to flow into my heart. And stuff’.
‘I’m beautiful!’ ‘People love me!’
That’s cool. I’ve got nothing against affirmations. But I prefer a different type myself. People say that where thoughts go, energy flows. Perhaps yes, perhaps no. But I believe that energy flows where pelvic thrusts go.

Yes, my ass is the channel through which I receive the blessings of the universe. Bear with me people, this ain’t dirty talk. I just see ass-shaking as the kind of Chakra alignment I personally need. I wasn’t raised with the blessing of ass shaking, quite the opposite. My biker family gifted me with the ability to shoot stuff, drink beer and write satire. All lovely, but my ass, well, it stayed still for too long.
I always thought I could start shaking my ass when it magically became perfect. When my ass resembled that shit they shake in music videos, which has a snowball’s chance in hell of happening. I was shy, embarassed, awkward.
And then one day I’d had enough! I wanted to shake my ass, goshdarnit! Enough fear of looking like a spaz, enough of my stupid mental block! And I did it.

Because affirmations are in our heads. Yes, it is nice to think positively, to love ourselves intellectually. To make lists of all the crap we’re grateful for, and meditate on lovingkindness. To me, the ass supercedes all the intellectual baggage. It is the seat, the root, the hump–and moving it literally grounds us in earth. It calls up the energy like tai chi. An increase in sexual expression, body acceptance, reproductive health, digestive stimulation can all follow.
I had always thought “ass” was funny, a metaphor. The butt of all jokes. But I have realized that it is quite real. Yes, medicinal ass-shaking is as old as dirt. Dancing is worship. Dancing is belonging. Dancing is exercise, stimulates circulation, builds muscles for childbirth, posture, sexuality and endurance.Take 2 crunks and a bounce and call me in the morning.

“dear goddess, we made this great beat just for you
as an offering, can you feel us now?”-Saul Williams

The earth wants to feel your stomps and sighs, your thrusts and whirls more than your endless chatter.

“Now you can use reiki to assist in magnetizing infinite blessings into your life”
-Laurelle Shanti Gaia
Yes, you can use reiki. You can buy motivational magnets.
You can arrange all the furnture in a way that creates prosperity. You can light a million candles, turn on all of the battery-powered essential oil diffusers and cloud the house with nag champa.
Or, you can thrust, shake, wiggle your liberated ass towards connection and enlightenment…for free.

chaga, oh chaga!

chaga with dog's leg
chaga with dog’s leg
chaga
chaga
 

Oh, Chaga. Inonotus obliquus. What the hell is this stuff? It is a fungus which grows primarily on birch trees and allied trees in the birch family-some of my very favorite trees, of course. To call it a “mushroom” sounds absurd. It is a fungus, a fruiting body, and a firestarter.Chaga and birch seem to have a symbiotic relationship, swapping the mutual aid of healing with each other and whipping up a little batch of betulin!People decoct chaga for the usual amazing medicinal mushroom benefits like addressing cancer, supporting immunity and deep nourishment. It may, along with its home the birch tree, help address inflammation.

i hike through the birch and pine forests looking for standing dead or partially downed white birches to harvest chaga from. It is an odd and mysterious, dense, heavy chunk of space junk and can be quite difficult to pry off.i enjoy it as a decoction, perhaps with some roots and warming spices,  infuse it into oils and make tinctures with it. i am working on a chaga-birch body butter right now and a warming chaga nutmeg massage oil.Chaga has an entry in the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s “cancer care” website. For more information on chaga check out Paul Stamets, Dr. Andrew Weil, Christopher Hobbes and Russia.
http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/chaga-mushroom
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-stamets/chaga-mushroom_b_1974571.html
http://www.origins.com/product/3873/11116/Skincare/Star-Collection/Dr-Weil-Mega-Mushroom/Dr-Andrew-Weil-for-Origins/Mega-Mushroom-Skin-Relief-Advanced-Face-Serum/index.tmpl

birch crown!
birch crown!

 

roots, medicine makers, and my calling

Ah, the making of medicines. I am a creator. I began my herbal journey growing weed with my dear friend Aymar, sneaking around with jars of water in or packs and visiting our sort of pathetic little plants–somehow that led to us sitting quietly, outside, listening to birds sing and watching rain fall. That was the medicine we needed, and our scrappy little harvest was a bonus.

After that I was a home herbalist, a family herbalist, and I was searching for the way forward.  I decided to be an herb farmer. Moved to the country, planted a lot of  Calendula. I learned to ID. I learned to forage. Amazing. But it was the making of medicines that spoke to me, more than anything else. After years of creating mediocre art, writing poetry, and wandering about it was the CRAFT of medicine making that struck me, that grounded me, that fulfilled me like nothing else ever had.

And though I do consult, I do teach classes, I do write about herbalism absolutely nothing recharges me like medicine making. Nothing reminds me that I am exactly where I need to be like making medicines by hand, like digging roots in the cold and muddy swamp, like wielding my precious digging knife and mucking up my boots.  Bug bites, sunsets, chapped lips, hours on my hands and knees harvesting precious violet flowers or digging massive burdock roots. Mmmmmmmmmmm.Coming home, bags of bark, my thighs sore from squatting and hiking, my dog tired from “helping”, my nails dirty and hair full of thorny crap. Herbgasm.

Then the washing, the  chopping, the glug-glug-glug of my liquor and the creative spirit flowing right into my medicines is just pure joy. Pure, unadulterated, present-moment, interspecies wonder. Elixirs? Blending?  Oh, yes. And I’m shaking my jars to booty bass and I’m pressing every drop of juice outta last summer’s precious flowers…..there is no greater heaven. The tastes, the smells, the hands-on, the healing intention, wrapping them up and sending them off to wonderful people. I can’t see myself doing anything else. I am an artisan. The craft of herbalism is a beautiful and meaningful craft which feeds me deeply, and I am thankful to be right where I belong.

 

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solomon's seal root
solomon’s seal root

making room at the table

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Herbalists need to push our asses over and make some room at the table for each other. We sure as heck don’t have to like each other-but forming alliances is not about “like”. It is about acknowledging our shared power source-plants- and giving love and respect to everyone. It is providing support to each other, mutual aid, sharing, in ways more tangible than internet  ((((hugs)))).  It is also about encouraging accountability, “first cause no harm”.

Oh indeed there is room for disagreement. There is even room for argument-respectful argument. And spanking; herbalists love a good spanking. However, we are at war. We the people are all on the same side, in the same plant army, and need to acknowledge that. Hey, I’m no conspiracy theorist-I am not watching for aliens in my cornfield-but the water is not polluting itself, you know.  Garbage isn’t leaping into the ocean, forests aren’t clearcutting themselves. A little unity goes a long way towards the well-being of our people, our earth.

So pointless snarking and infighting amongst herbalists is lame, and let us not forget what happened around the turn of the last century, with opposing herbal schools shit-talking each other, leading to  rampant competition and eventual fizzling.  Ah, Scudder and Bach wrestling in a mudpit…..

In the spirit of a loving supportive future that nourishes all of us I present a list of rights and responsibilities to move us forward with joy, humor and alliance:

-Disavow yourself of the notion of a perfect herbalist. Herbalists are fat and skinny, obnoxious and sweet, malodorous, dorky, loud, shy, slutty, messy, queer, boring, colorful, drunk, ill, genius, odd, short, tall, angry, poor, tone deaf. Herbalists have dry elbows and 80s hairdos. Herbalists are metalheads and motorcycle mamas. There is NO “right” way to be an herbalist!

-Inspiration. We need to be inspired by our surroundings and we need to inspire others. Cultivate inspiration! Encourage it in others!

-We need to know the difference between a pancreas and a clitoris. Though the medical knowledge of herbalists varies, having a grip of the basics of the body serves us well. For example, front and back, top and bottom.

-Those who make medicines need to know their plants, where it’s from, how it’s made.  Surfaces and containers should be kept reasonably free from  fuzzballs, boogers  and tapeworms.

-No herbalist has it all figured out. Nor should we. We can be elders, but not experts-herbalists are lifelong students, driven to discover, to make connections, to see patterns. The moment we stop learning we are dead.

-If you wait until you are perfect to begin healing you deprive humanity of your gift.

-Don’t F people over, avoid manipulation at all costs, and first do no harm. Transparency is vital to informed consent. Be honest about your skill level, and let others decide if you know what you are talking about.

-Medicine makers are craftspeople. We are matchmakers, artists, poets  and creators.  Honor the artist in the healer.

-Mutual aid means passing clients on to other herbalists in their area, recommending each other, buying or bartering from each other, providing  tangible support and information to each other, providing feedback with love, sharing knowledge and inspiration.

So…With love and respect to all my fellow herbal allies, I thank you for the amazing things I have learned from my community, I thank those who’ve shared my writing, herbal store, information or recommendation. I thank those who have allowed me to provide you with herbs.  I thank those who’ve done the work to write books and articles, who share their case studies and milky oat seeds, and I thank those who disagree with me, who make me think, who make me hone my craft and my argument. And I thank those in my community who are growing older with me, watching each other kick ass, fall down, get up, mature into elders and build upon our ancestors’ work for ourselves, our earth and our beloved plants.

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stuff your stockings with salves!!

Salves make great stocking stuffers. AmIright? IMG_3454

Fellow Workers Farm will be running a HOLIDAY SALVE SPECIAL for the next 7days!!!!

3 one oz. salves for 15.00! OMG, it’s a super fun present. Stuff 2 stockings and keep one?

-Tree power (mixed barks and buds of birch, alder, cottonwood, aspen)

-Cottonwood buds

-Sweet Birch

-Arnica-Pine

-Arnica

-Pine

-Lavender buds

-Rose

-Jasmine

-Chaga-Nutmeg

You can choose any 3, choose “flowers”, or choose “random”.

 

From today until December 13th e-mail fellowworkersfarm@gmail.com with your order, Paypal me, it’s 3.00/shipping or you can pickup at the apothecary in Canaan, NY. E-mail with questions, special requests and hot stock tips.

I will also be cheerfully accepting SPECIAL ORDERS for tinctures, elixirs, salves, creams, tea blends and other fun stuff, order soon if you want it before the official “christmas” day.

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