Tag Archives: Books

the whole universe conspires to guide you on your path

syn·chro·nic·i·ty
The simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection, coined by Carl Jung.

me holding the borrowed rare book in the bright winter sunlight today

me holding the borrowed rare book in the bright winter sunlight today

I recently started working as a substitute teacher at a local school and one day I was at the computer looking at Susun Weed‘s website, reading about nettle infusions, when the secretary nearby said something about her sister who is an herbalist living in NY’s East Village. My ears perked up and I eagerly asked, “you have an herbalist sister?!” She saw how excited I was and told me about her sister who had studied upstate back in the 60’s with a well-known herbalist, whose name she just couldn’t recall. I had a hunch and guessed, “do you mean Susun Weed??” Her eyes lit up and she confirmed, “oh yes, her!” I was so blown away because I was literally on Susun’s site at that very moment, reading about nettle infusions. So the woman continued, “yes, my sister is an herbalist and she always teaches me about herbs. She’s even written a book about herbs. She told me to drink nettle infusion every day!” By this point I just couldn’t believe my ears. Of all the hundreds of articles on Susun’s website, I was just reading about nettles! We both became very aware of the synchronicity in this moment and felt the excitement grow. As our connection to the plants unraveled, we realized what a bond we share through them. The cherry on top was when I found out that the book her sister wrote was Herbal Rituals: Recipes for Everyday Living. This was no ordinary herb book, but rather a book that has been on my wish list for over 5 years now! It is out of print so I never got myself a copy, but here I am, sitting in my bed, sipping tea and reading the herbal book I dreamed of for so many years.

This is just one of many plant synchronicities that I’ve experienced on my journey, and I know so many of you have these things going on all the time as well. I’d love to hear about your experiences! Feel free to email me or even post on my Facebook wall, I’d love to get a discussion going where we can all share these magic happenings and reap inspiration and guidance from them! I have a strong feeling that many of us also go through common plant synchronicities as well, so it would be interesting to look at those trends as a community!

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Herbal Elder: Juliette de Bairacli Levy, the wandering herbalist

Juliette with Gypsy Friends via Ashtree Publishing

Born under the influence of Scorpio in Manchester England, in the year of the sinking of the Titanic and the founding of the Girl’s Scouts, Juliette de Bairacli Levy was a pioneer herbalist who travelled the world seeking out ancient remedies and herbal teachings from all she encountered. What I admire the most about her was her fearless sense of adventure and her insatiable curiosity that drove her to discover worlds and cultures otherwise hidden from view. Her herbal travels led her throughout Europe, Turkey, North Africa, Israel and Greece, where she stayed for spells amongst gypsies, farmers, mountain people, and livestock breeders, learning their medicinal wisdom and sharing her tales with them as friends. When reading her books, one is compelled to explore her own boundaries and limitations; Juliette’s unapologetic approach to raising children naturally, living in tune with nature, and trusting the wisdom of our own bodies rings with a deeply rooted truth, handed down with the confidence only someone living with their heart and soul can convey. Here are some books written by Juliette of the Herbs, and some photos of her travels to inspire the wandering herbalist inside each of us…

As Gypsies Wander: Being an account of life with gypsies in England, Provence, Spain, Turkey, London: Faber & Faber, 1962.

Spanish Mountain Life: the Sierra Nevada, London: Faber & Faber, 1955.

Wanderers in the New Forest, London: Faber & Faber, 1958

Summer in Galilee, London: Faber & Faber, 1959.

The Natural Rearing of Children, London: Faber & Faber, 1970

A Herbal Handbook for Everyone, London: Faber & Faber, 1966.

Juliette’s nature’s children via Susun Weed

Juliette’s daughter Luz with her owl

Juliette with her home-bred naturally raised Afghan in the 1960’s. Via greasy.

 

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4 Beloved Everyday Herbs: Going to Scarborough Fair

Tell him to buy me an acre of land, Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Betwixt the salt water and the sea sand, Then he shall be a true lover of mine.

One of my favorite songs of all time is Scarborough Fair, a traditional British ballad, particularly the version angelically sung by Simon+Garfunkel on their 1966 album “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme.” Whenever I listen, I feel like I am taken to a different time and place, a place of simplicity and purity, romance, magic, chivalry. The 4 herbs sung about in this traditional hymn are some of the most virtuous of herbs, and also the simplest to grow and to integrate into your day to day. Here are some ways to use the famous four and the benefits that come along with them, inspired by The Good Herb by Judith Benn Hurley:

1. Parsley, the magical multivitamin. Hurley writes, “just a cup of parsley contains more vitamin C than an orange, more beta carotene than a carrot, more calcium than milk, and much more iron than a serving of liver.” The Cherokee Indians used it to prevent infections and in Germany and China its been used traditionally to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. You can grow it in a container with enough space for its long taproot, and make sure it gets at least 6 hours of full sun per day. Take a bath with parsley tea when you’re fatigued and it will freshen you right up. Parsley is an herb of gemini.

2. Sage, the ceremonial healer+savior. Used by Native Americans in smudging ceremonies to cleanse and purify the air of any negativity. Ancient Arabic and Chinese herbalists drank sage tea for mental and spiritual clarity, and drinking a cup of sage tea helps concentration and memory. Sage is known to darken hair, cover up grey hairs, as a cooling skin soother after shaving, and to decrease excessive perspiration. Sage can be grown indoors near a window with 6 hours of sun. Keep it shorter than 12 inches tall for best health. Sage protects other plants such as Rosemary from disease. Sage is an herb of Aquarius.

3. Rosemary, the mind soother. The Greeks wore garlands of this herb to ward off the evil eye and to help them remember their studies. It was said that rosemary refused to grow in the gardens of an evil person. Rosemary was placed under pillows to prevent nightmares and induce peaceful sleep. It’s mostly used for stress management, headaches, and digestive health. It is full of calcium that is easily absorbed by the body. Rosemary does not endure freezing winters, so it is wise to plant it in pots and bring them in in wintertime. They need full sun, at least 4-6 hours a day, and the soil should be moist at all times. Rosemary is an herb of Aries.

4. Thyme, the courage-giving mint. Knights of the Middle Ages wore sprigs of thyme in their armor as a sign of courage and bravery. Thyme contains powerful antibacterial and antiseptic properties that fight off coughs, colds, and gum disease. It is high in iron, but use a splash of lemon in your thyme tea to help the body absorb it. You can make a thyme massage oil or tincture to cleanse the skin and treat fungal infections. Thyme grows like the hair of a maiden, falling over in tangles low to the ground. You can grow it in pots indoors and provide 6 hours of sunlight, and it will repel whiteflies. Keep the thyme healthy and growing by pruning them in winter and running your hands through the branches often. Thyme is an herb of Taurus and Libra.

via pen&paperie

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Lessons from the Mushrooms: Be Optimistic, Resourceful, and Recycle

amanita muscaria, the archetypal mushroom

Take a moment to be awed when you spot a mushroom popping up through the ground. No mushroom is an island. What you are actually looking at is the reproductive structure of a complex, magical organism called Mycelium that is found underneath the grass that you and the mushroom stand on. You are facing the next generation of a superpower whose handiwork is intertwined with the fate of millions of life-forms. Mycelium (and their mushrooms) are there at every stage of an animal or plant’s lifecycle – from birth to death, and so on. Here are some inspiring habits of nature’s recycling squad:

~Mushrooms are the guardians of the forests. Their role in the decomposition and rebuilding of life forms, manifested in partnerships with creatures of all sizes and kinds (such as helping snails digest their dinners),  make them the overseers of the forest’s well-being. Some say they can even help prevent forest fires.

~Studies on mushrooms indicate promising medicinal benefits for us humans, including antibiotics, anticancer, antioxidant, and stress reducing properties. The Reishi/Ling Chi species is also antiviral, anti tumor, and promotes cardiovascular, immunity, and liver health, amongst other virtues.

~Certain species of mushrooms are so powerful that they can break down toxic wastes. Researchers implanted mushrooms on piles of soil contaminated by diesel and watched as the mushrooms were able to find nutrition in the chemicals, ultimately transforming the lifeless pile into healthy soil. That goes for toxic spills and radiation-ridden lands, too…so resourceful!!

~Some mushrooms can be natural alternatives to chemical pesticides that threaten the quality of our foods and the delicate balance of insect ecosystems. Rather than using harsh chemicals, farmers and individuals can use mushrooms to control pests and insects in a safer and less harmful way to us all.

~Mushrooms can be cultivated in the craziest places. We all know about those that grow on cow manure, but also straw, logs, tree stumps, hemp rope, hats, clothing, buckets, cardboard, your own backyard, and yes, nuclear waste sites. They are the ultimate optimists, taking the best from whatever situation they are in.

a fairy ring via The Telegraph

~They form “Fairy rings” – naturally occurring arcs or rings of mushrooms that appear on grasses and in fields. In European folklore, these are the gateways to fairy realms and the indicator that an elf or fairy has stopped by. These beautiful rings form when underground webs of mycelium grow in an outward direction. The mushrooms pop up along this circle, outlining the presence of the complex system working just below the surface.

~There are over 10,000 known species of mushrooms!! Each type is unique and many are amazingly bizarre in appearance. Some glow in the dark (mycena chlorophos), some are tiny (flammulina velutipes), some are as big as a tree, some grow underwater, and some are as hard as rocks. They are all beautiful.

for further information, visit Mushroom Appreciation, and read Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets.

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11 Herbal Books to Inspire, Enchant, and Charm Your Way to Good Health

Maude Grieve’s Modern Herbal, 1971 via Botanical.com

Herbals are books that offer information about the uses, properties, and botanical descriptions of herbs — and it’s no wonder they were amongst the first books produced in Ancient Egypt, China, India, and Europe. Ancient herbals and their modern-day counterparts are always fascinating to me, filled with legend, folklore, and other tell-tale information that reveals the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the times they were born of. Many herbals were illustrated to assist readers in plant identification, and some used the doctrine of signatures, which purported that an herb’s physical appearance revealed its healing virtues. (For example, lungwort’s leaves look similar to diseased lungs, the area of the body they are used to treat.)
The beauty of herbals is how interconnected they all are, like branches of one tree, all referencing others and tapping into the wealth of herbal information passed down through the ages. It’s fascinating to see how modern-day science and research combine with the empirical data and theories of the ages in later herbals. Here are some of my beloved herbals, dating from the 17th Century to the amazing herbals still being produced in our days:

1. Bruton-Seal, Julie, and Seal, Matthew, 2009. Backyard Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies. Skyhorse Publishing. (*rare)

2. Christopher, John R., 1996. School of Natural Healing. Nutribooks Corporation.

3. Culpeper, Nicholas, (1653). Culpeper’s Complete Herbal: A Book of Natural Remedies of Ancient Ills. Applewood Books, 2006.

4. De Bairacle Levy, Juliette, 1997. Nature’s Children. Ash Tree Publishing. (*rare)

Herbs + Things by Jeanne Rose, 1972.

5. Gladstar, Rosemary, 2008. Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family. Story Publishing.

6. Green, Chelsea, 2005. The Herbalist’s Way: The Art and Practice of Healing with Plant Medicines. Chelsea Green Publishing.

7. Grieve, Maud, 1971. A Modern Herbal: the Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-Lore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs & Trees with their modern scientific uses. Dover Publications.

8. Kloss, Jethro, (1939). Back to Eden: the Classic Guide to Herbal Medicine, Natural Foods, and Home Remedies Since 1939. Lotus Press, 2004.

9. Rose, Jeanne, 1972. Herbs & Things. Penguin Books.

10. Shaouli, Rabbi Moshe Cohen, and Fisher, Rabbi Yaakov, 1999. Nature’s Wealth: Health and Healing Plants based on the teachings of the Rambam. Publisher unknown. (*very rare)

11. Tis Mal Crow, 2001. Native Plants, Native Healing: Traditional Muskagee Way. Native Voices Publishing.

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