Friday, September 27, 2013

Healing Plants – Getting To Know Them


It has been almost a year since I have made an entry in this blog. I have returned. It has been a year of growth, learning and a wide array of rich experiences. Because of my constant connection with the natural world, my Wildcrafting way of life has expanded greatly. 
I am blessed to be surrounded by Our Mother’s healing abundance. I spend countless hours researching plants for identification; healing properties; knowing which parts are effective for each specific purpose; proper, ethical harvest methods to ensure an increase in the plants’ existence and abundance; the correct way to dry, store, prepare and cure.

I have a handful of guidebooks that I use, which is very important because each book has unique illustrations and focal points. I cross-reference for accuracy. I also have many books in my library on natural healing practices; permaculture; folklore; Native American healing traditions; wildcraft; teas; oils and tinctures.

I take my time learning about the healing plants in my environment, making sure that the information, practices and art of wildcraft are imprinted within my entire being. I really get to know these plants in their natural spaces. In addition to the physical properties of each plant, I study the soil, light, seasons and general life cycle. I am aware of how they respond to our shared environment, including insects, birds and other living creatures that frequent the plants and how we exist in unison.

It is also vital to my practice to put these healing remedies to use and not rely solely on written material.  For example, my son faces allergies in late summer into the fall. He has been drinking “Goldenrod” tea to address this issue. I get feedback from him during allergy season and he has reported that this tea is very effective. I have friends in all stages of their femininity ranging from Maiden to Wise Crone who have reaped the benefits of “Mugwort” tea. I also use these healing remedies, teas, tinctures and oils for my own well-being and healthcare. I can share dozens of healing benefit stories with you, but you can get this information from my website or facebook page where I share posts, articles, photos, videos and sell my products. If you don’t already know, the name of my company is Marigold Moon Wildcraft & Garden.
I believe that the miracle plant of the present season would have to be Mullein. I am in awe of the miraculous healing properties of this plant. Because of the unearthing of this knowledge and the massive Mullein fields, I have responsibly harvested the plant in various stages, leaving more than enough to propagate and multiply for the next season. I have made tea blends, Mullein Flower Oil and Mullein Tincture.

I will admit that during the peak season, I was taken aback by the presence of rather large ‘Grass Spiders’.  They lived in and around the tall Mullein stalks and bright yellow flowers. They are actually beneficial, consuming bugs that would otherwise possibly harm the plant. Initially I thought that I would be unable to cope, should one of them crawl on me.

Arachnophobia is common, however I did suffer greatly when bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider about four years ago. I am always making my peace with spiders and will not kill them and have learned to be calm and honor them in our shared common space. I have done well with this. I have faced many very large spiders this year and have managed to maintain my composure and even take close-up photographs of them. I am rewiring my brain to admire them instead of wanting to flee. The spider has become my animal totem symbolizing the weaving of stories and wisdom, and working diligently to continue to build your dreams.

After a few days of looking longingly at the yellow Mullein flowers, I dressed in long pants, socks, shoes and a long sleeved shirt in the high heat of summer and carefully picked the small flowers. When I came face to face with these giant spiders I pulled my hand back and reached for my camera, which I always carry in my basket. This is progress.
I will leave you with a brief profile of the Magical Mullein Plant.

Mullein Leaf, Flower and Root (Biennial)

Parts Used: Stalks, Flowers, Leaves, Roots

Uses: Traditionally used as a tea, and is frequently combined with other herbs in mixtures for treating cough. May be taken as an extract if fresh material is used, and is very rarely found in capsule form. The fresh or dried flowers have traditionally been used to make an oil infusion for external use. All parts of the plant have been used in making tinctures.

Medicinal: The soothing mucilage of mullein coat sore throats and make coughing more productive. The German E Commission relates that mullein is good for catarrhs of the respiratory tract and as an expectorant.
Mullein Flower Oil – Used for soothing ear aches and applied externally for relief of aches and pains from arthritis, sprains, swelling and tendonitis.

Mullein Tincture – Used for incontinence, spine and disk alignment, coughs, sore throats and respiratory illnesses.

The Native American’s smoked Mullein leaf to help with coughs and it is believed to aid in clearing the lungs during and after the quitting of tobacco smoking.
Properties: Mucilage, Flavonoids, Iridoids, Sterols and Sugars.

Folklore: The name mullein itself is derived from the Latin word "mollis" which means soft. It has its origins in the Mediterranean, but has been naturalized in North America. The flowering stem was dried by the Greeks and Romans and dipped in tallow, and then used as a lamp wick or as a torch. These torches were said to ward off evil spirits and witches, although it was certainly not uncommon in a witches herbal garden. Frazier writes in the Golden Bough that mullein was added to the bonfire on Midsummer's eve to ward away evil from the celebration. Some ancient grimoires (magical ‘textbooks’) have been found to list powdered mullein leaf as a substitute for graveyard dust when that was unavailable.
(Journal - Babies Breath)
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

About Thanksgiving: Do We Really Get It?

"Thanksgiving is celebrated at the expense of Native Peoples who had to give up their lands and culture for America to become what it is today." ~ Linda Coombs, Aquinnah Wampanoag ~

For many, the word “Thanksgiving” conjures up the memory of a comforting aroma of a turkey roasting in the oven blended with pumpkin bread, cranberries, homemade pies, winter squashes, and family and friends gathered around a candlelit table.

Now there is a fanatical obsession with “Black Friday”, which has become another tradition that has merged with the Thanksgiving holiday, kicking off the Christmas extravaganza. Do we really get it?

I trace my ancestry back to the founding families of Massachusetts Bay Colony. I have visions of Richard Pettingell and his brother-in-law John Ingersoll making their rounds in Salem Village, keeping a watchful eye on the residents to make sure that they do not break the Sabbath rules. If these rules are broken the perpetrator will go to the stockades; which type of stockade depends upon the severity of the crime.

Richard was also a ‘grand juryman of the Ipswich Tryalls’. It took me a while to pinpoint the exact purpose of these trials. I finally discovered that it was more of the same as when he lived in Salem. He enforced the law against Sabbath violators.

In an attempt to figure out how I could possibly have blossomed from the same family tree as church cops and then later accusers of witches in Salem (through my Ingersoll line); I devoted an entire semester study at Vermont College to the Puritans and their chaos.

This comprehensive study enabled me to connect the dots. The information provided in the above link is straight from the Pettingell Genealogy Book. My grandfather is listed in this book and I can easily trace my lineage back to Richard (My twelfth Great Grandfather).

This era in my own personal history was a major ‘peeling of the onion’ event. In addition to my previous research in Civil War Musicology necessary for historically accurate performances as a reenactor; I discovered my Abenaki roots.

However it was the fact that there were so many religious persecutors in my ancestry that invited me to delve into the principles of Puritan Theology, leading me back to ancient wisdom – to the unknown world of Gnosticism.

As I peeled back each layer of the onion, there was another layer waiting to be torn away to reveal more truth. There were almost too many roads to choose from. It took a great deal of patience, stillness and time investment to continue on this journey.

This was a time of fully realizing that history as I knew it was not at all what took place. The delightful story of pilgrims sitting around happily sharing a feast with the Native Americans is equal to the tooth fairy leaving a quarter under my pillow when I was six years old.

It’s a nice story, but tweaked all the same. If it was a friendly event; what happened next? What happened before? Was there a time out from raping, pillaging, killing and deceiving, to rip off a drum stick and share stories around a fire?

What opened my eyes?
A while ago I was a trumpeter and I managed a British Brass Band. We were hired to perform in a rather large, televised performance in Plymouth Massachusetts: the “Annual American’s Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration”. We participated with Massed Bands as the brass band part of a Scottish Military Tattoo and Highland Fling. We had done this before at the Highland Games and were becoming well-known for this type of collaboration.

There were Highland Pipes and Drums, Scottish Dancers and Singers as well as a handful of other performers from the Washington DC area. We worked hard to prepare for this event; learning special music, making, issuing and wearing the proper New England tartan on our hats, planning the logistics of travel and pay.

When we drove up to the hall where we were to perform, I spotted a crowd of people dressed in Native American regalia carrying signs. While collecting my music gear from the vehicle, I bothered reading their signs. They were in protest of the celebration of Thanksgiving which depicts a celebration purely from the white man’s perspective.

Some people in the area grumbled and continued on. I stopped to think. What is this really about?

Of the years that I spent as the manager of this band and others, this was the first time we were stiffed. I was disappointed and had to break the news to the other twenty six players in the band who had given up an entire day, traveled to Plymouth and delivered an exquisite performance. According to my friend, colleague and Master Piper with whom I worked; no one was paid - the contract was broken (so much for integrity).

From that day forward, it became important for me to comprehend the events that took place prior to and around the first American Thanksgiving. I understand that the Pilgrims would have starved or fared much worse had the “Indians” left them on their own to face a harsh winter.

It was the good will, trust and compassion of the Native Americans that carried the Pilgrims through this rough spot. After the Native Americans died (in large numbers) from diseases carried by European and English settlers who took over their land, stripped them of their spiritual beliefs and forced them into Christianity; we cling to a story based on love, sharing and reciprocity. Oh how I wish it were true.

I read a local book written in the mid 1800’s that carefully described the bounty system for Indian scalps that could be brought to Boston. The book also described Native Americans as savages. I think there was an identity crisis. What say you?

So…I continue to peel back the layers and have come to know the core. Giving thanks is multi-dimensional. Do we save it all for one day and then rush out to buy more stuff? Do we praise and give thanks for the massive discounts at Wal-Mart and Target, lining the pockets of the filthy rich corporations that manufacture their goods overseas in sweat shops?

It’s all good. If you don’t have the funds you can put it on a credit card (save 10% by applying right there on the spot) or you can put it on lay away and figure out how to get it later. That is who we’ve become. Even in the midst of our economic crisis; we can’t buy enough. When will we learn that the cost of our stuff is paid for with small soul increments?

We can’t rewind. The past is back there where it will stay. However, the past informs the future, if we choose to awaken. We cannot take ownership of the actions of those who came before us, but we do have the ability to accept what is true, honor it and be the change.

How do we do it? We can begin by giving thanks, acknowledgment and love to the memory of the sacrifice made by the Native Americans in spite of immense betrayal. Celebrate the fruits of our labor – the harvest (from earth, heart and soul). Give thanks for abundance of the land and learn more about sustainability, responsible action regarding Our Mother and all of life. Find your tribe. Through sharing, bartering and buying locally, we strengthen our communities and we become strong and we evolve.

I am very traditional and will admit that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I do not base my Thanksgiving story on the perfect illustrations provided in my fourth grade history book. I am a farmer and historian with a passion for folklore, cooking and preserving the harvest. This is a way of life. As a wildcrafter, I am equally thankful for the wild harvest, which is incorporated into my life each day. It is vital to gather with loved ones to give thanks, celebrate and expand our circle of love and to count our blessings always.

See how your life transitions when you are grateful every day; when Thanksgiving is a way of life.
Journal: Sage

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Treasure Becomes the Knowing

If I learn one lesson each day; it has been a good day. Some lessons are weighty and emerge after considerable contemplation. The syncopated pushing and pulling conflicts with my natural pulse. The heaviness settles deep and presses hard against the walls of my heart.

I watch the truth linger behind a soft silky veil. I know that I want it and reach for it. Merging is freedom. However, at times I prefer to look away, embracing my own perception (the one which no longer serves me).

I continue to climb, pulling myself up the mountain hand over hand, scraping against the defined edges of each craggy rock and tightening my grasp when the loose earth falls away. I tell myself that I won’t fall. I will not lose my footing. However, just as I convince myself of this; the silky veil thins and truth reveals that it is best to fall (right then and there).

I let go.
Truth and I are together, swirling inside of the tumbling chaos.
When we land, I am surrounded by a pile of scattered debris… all that descended with me. I can sift through it, ignore it, pack it up and carry it with me, or I can walk away and leave it where it lands. I weave together multiple strands of truth and continue.

I feel the pain of the fall – scratches, bruises, bumps and random scars – all reminders.

The journey waits. No longer afraid; I choose the untamed path, the one with the most unknowns.

I find lost treasure. I rejoice. I hold onto it and marvel at its goodness. I am warmed by its shine and hopelessly muddled by its charm. I am inclined to sing and dance because before there was no cause. In the midst of it; I discover the art of reclaiming that which was never lost to begin with.

When I realize that the treasure was always present; the treasure becomes the knowing.
Journal: Scarlet Lily

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Finding the Moonfield: Unleash Your Wildness

I miss the nights when I played with my children in the Moonfield; a place that explodes in the silver light of the moon, illuminating all that lies beneath, casting distinct shadows typically acknowledged by day. 

A full moon is not required for such brilliance. Take last night for example; the moon is in the first quarter – a perfect night for frolicking.

At one time, my children and I often climbed over the stone wall to the field by the school to our first Moonfield. We had endless space to run freely. That is when we created our game of “Moon Tag”. Just the mentioning of it conjures up the echo of innocent laughter that drifts away to the edges of the field into the long, thin, lines of tree shadows.

Of course this game can be played in sunlight; but there is more magic in the moon.

The object of the game is to chase each other’s shadow – tag the other person without physically touching him or her – your shadow touches his shadow. It doesn’t count if you make physical contact. I started this game with my three children when they were about four, six and seven years of age.

It works well on a variety of levels. It is possible to play the game when the moon rises early in the evening, just after dark. It gives your little one(s) an opportunity to run, laugh and exercise in the fresh air, making way for a good night’s sleep. [Actually, this game is not limited to children. If you were here now, I would initiate a good game of “Moon Tag” with you.]

It invites silliness. I love that part about it. There is no competition. At first it’s a bit challenging to work with shadows as opposed to your physical beings. However, once you get used to it…the game rises to a new level because you now comprehend moon shadows.

Games in nature have depth in meaning. We are able to use the power of our body, mind and spirit in imagination. We are in the wild, living our wildish nature. Batteries, chargers, smart cards and other stuff are not needed, nor do they matter. When we play such games in the Moonfield (or other Gaian places), in addition to connecting with each other, Our Mother and the moon; we connect to our heart, soul, and to the wildness that resides within. We have an opportunity to externalize our untamed nature, which stirs the colors of our vibrancy, stimulating emotional, spiritual and creative growth.

These games played in the Moonfield reclaim that which has been lost in the age of technology, which are weakening the senses. We merge with our vision and values, responding to the joy of being where we belong – out there with our feelings that both tickle and roar within us. We fold up the joy and vitality to carry with us for darker times, to awaken from a psychic slumber, unfolding and returning to it when needed.

I have had many Moonfields come and go in my life; each providing great opportunities for capturing bliss and meaning – both vital to me. Take this newly found wisdom and go play in your Moonfield. Pay attention to the environment and be a part of the lessons woven within. The Moonfield exists in each of us; honor and celebrate your place in it.
Journal: Periwinkle

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Harrowing of the Soul: When to Stay and When to Keep Moving

The change of seasons – a time to welcome the next cycle with anticipation, honoring sacred rituals steeped in tradition and the passing down of old stories sprouted from intuition and ancient wisdom. The end of one cycle and the beginning of another invites us to unravel mysteries, face the unknown, achieving fierceness and awakening to tenderness.

However, in time I have formed a deeper connection with Our Mother, unearthing my wildish side and considering my very basic instinct. I have become intoxicated from seductive blossoms that invite me to touch, feel, smell and taste as if each time was the first. I am in awe of the finding and digging up of accidental treasure – roots and greens and buds and seeds. I bow to the healing power that lies quietly in Our Mother’s womb, waiting for the perfect time to emerge and offer miracles with little or no return. How much we can learn from Our Mother – the great teacher of humility, resilience, balance and forgiveness.

In parched fields carpeted with wilted grasses, along the banks of poisoned rivers, lakes and streams, under fallen trees in ravaged forests, we continue to seek the transformative fire. We gather together with our collective rage as it turns into sorrow before bringing us home to do our work. Through our wandering and taking back; we mustn’t get caught in the rage. Sometimes the healing begins with simple acknowledgement and other times it is hard and gritty. Often it hurts to see this truth, as it may lead to the harrowing of the soul.

As I return to Our Mother over and over again; I return to life. I sit under the sun amidst the harmony of winged creatures and give a tear to healing. I sit aching and drenched in the rawness of rain asking the obvious questions, longing for Her restitution.

We move from one cycle to the next; beginning and ending; living and dying, with hope lost and hope found. Knowing when we know and knowing when we don’t.

I thought I was fine with the coming of autumn, embracing the coolness in underlying shadows, yet in awe of the brilliant hue of death. However, the shiver under the cover of night was my reluctance to leave summer, when I reclaim and resurrect wholeness. With my hands in dirt; my inner life is in motion. I am authentic and instinctual, thriving and glimmering, and I find answers to my deepest questions.

Today it was warm. The rains came and summoned me to play under a pinkish gray sky, somewhere between the world of feeling and thinking. A transparent molted snake skin lying on top of the rich brown earth evoked the hunger. What needs to be shed or disposed of to stay in the wild creative flow? Am I willing to crawl out of my own skin to remain in that soul source? Nature knows that which needs to leave to make room for new life yet to be. You know when you know… when to stay and when to keep moving.
Journal: Babies Breath

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Tiny Black Key: Lost or Found

It kind of looks like a diary key, but might be too small. It’s made of metal and has a heart-shaped hole so that you can put it on a key chain. I know of nothing on the premises that has a lock small enough for it.

It showed up last night on the mahogany end table in the living room. There is nothing else on the table except for a white antique hobnail lamp.

I picked up the key and examined it. It reminded me of the first leather diary that I wrote in faithfully when I was a young girl. I wondered what happened to my dairies and hoped that they didn’t end up in the wrong hands.

I brought the key into my office where it sits on my desk. I thought of throwing it away, unlike all of the well intentioned, random buttons that I have placed in a neat line on the shelf in the bathroom.

I looked at the key again. What if something locked suddenly needs to be opened to reveal valuable treasure? I would have to fish around in the garbage for the key.

Does keeping it make me a hoarder? I do hold onto things that have served their purpose well beyond their intended use. I am apt to think that I might need it at a later time but rarely do. Then the time comes when enough is enough. I throw away all of those useless items that I saved so protectively. When I am in that mood; I have been known to discard things and regret it later. It’s a delicate balance.

The mystery was solved when I asked my daughter (who has been far and away) if she knew about the key. She told me that she found it on the sidewalk in California. So now someone 3,000 miles away might have to bust open her diary to make an entry, re-read mournful confessions and hopes for her future.

I think not.
Perhaps this tiny key of wisdom and compassion was there for my daughter to find and claim, bringing her home to unlock her deepest knowing, allowing her to open the door and peer into what her soul truly wants.

Sometimes it is not enough to be loved and supported, lost or found, exhausted and well travelled. Sometimes you need to find that tiny key on a busy, littered sidewalk… pick it up and hold onto it – the knowledge – the signal that says I can feel. I can return home and give my heart to the entire process.

I will not throw it away.
Journal: Periwinkle

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Prayer: Life After Hope

I have been away; here but away. Today I reclaimed my focus, returned to my passion and resumed my work. When I fall out of step with Our Mother; I lose my integral rhythm. This learning and navigating is a vital part of life cycles – the smaller ones within the larger ones. If I meet with a particularly jarring tempo; it may take longer for my pulse to return to where it needs to be. If I don’t already know how to maintain this balance; I learn.

There is value in everything. Once we filter through the source of the upheavals in our emotional, spiritual, physical and creative selves; we can find the knowledge within and transition from student to teacher. We discover, identify and process these changes as students and when we find the light and lesson that it carries; we become teachers.

This applies to all of the fluctuations that we experience, including the raw and messy ones; they usually present the most significant opportunities of all. The danger is when we ignore our feelings or instincts. When we deny them, we are denying personal growth and missing possibilities. It is when we become fully aware of ourselves that we begin to shape our experiences into useful tools – either for our own perceptions or how we relate to others.

I learned a long time ago to be careful of what you wish for (and pray for). It is important to be careful with the wording. This has been a hard lesson for me on more than one occasion. I learned. I pray carefully and with intent. I don’t bother with the rote prayers that hit the ceiling and fall on the floor. I am clear and thoughtful and never hasty.

If you have read my articles about “Traveling Kids”, you will know the intent of my prayer. It was ongoing in earnest for almost three years. It started out as a desperate prayer, but then I realized that desperation meant fear, and I did not want fear to reside anywhere within my being. Therefore, it was imperative that I release it. How do you do that? I was faced with a challenge, because simply verbalizing or meditating on it or even praying to let go of fear wasn’t enough. I had to learn how to release it myself. Of course you can ask for assistance but it is ultimately up to you to figure it out.

I had to rely on my own transformative efforts combined with Divine guidance. This was a multi-faceted, yet genuine task. I practiced trusting the universe and accepting that everything happens for a reason and as it is meant to. I also had to accept that each of us has our own destiny. So for me it boiled down to trust. It was necessary for me to also have clear boundaries between what was mine and what was not. When I made those boundaries, I often had bursts of rage. This maintained its own value within natural emotional cycles. I felt it, dealt with it, allowed it to fall and then released it as new energy.

As soon as I felt the vibrational pounding of fear at my door; I met it with determination. “Oh…it’s you.” I faced fear for as brief a time as possible, and allowed myself to be taught by it and then recited a mantra in my head repeatedly, taming it (the fear) before letting it go. My favorite mantra is, Sophia is the love that sustains me. (Sophia is the feminine face of God). I am deeply connected to the feminine through my years of studying the Gnostic Gospels and of course my wild nature.

This struggle with fear carried with it a possible threat to my entire being, not only the rhythms of my body, but all systems. I needed to resolve it. Within time, I learned how to trust God/ Sophia and the Universe and I devoted myself to my creative work and nature. I spent much time in solitude and prayer, and found solace in the gentle curves of Our Mother in the wild. I learned how to pray. I learned how to balance. I learned how to hope. I discovered that it was better to stop asking why and focus on what to do with it. I prayed with the highest intentions. I did not miss a day and sometimes prayed several times a day. I discovered that there is life after fear and anger.

About a month ago, my prayer was answered. I didn’t recognize it at first, but it started to reveal itself. It didn’t come free. It requires a great deal of patience and effort for the answer of this prayer to reach full maturity. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Sophia. My prayers are now filled with gratitude. It takes conscious practice to transform our lives and others for the better of the whole. If we take one step at a time; we will not fall down. There is hope.
Journal: Periwinkle, Scarlett Lily