Working with Elementals

I feel like I need to get something clear right from the get go. I never believed in faeries as a kid. It just wasn’t a thing for me. Growing up in the wonderfully Seinfeld cynicism of the northeast, faeries were pretty much the last thing I was going to invest myself in (at least publicly). I remember wishing I could believe in things like imaginary friends and earth spirits, it sounded pretty fun. But the hard tack atmosphere of Philly-style credulousness forged me as a cynic right from the start.

It wasn’t until I was an adult and began experiencing chronic pain that I started reaching for something beyond what I had been handed as truth. It wasn’t until I started talking to trees and watching the world that I realized just how much I didn’t know. How big the mystery was, and how small my own gaze could be. And suddenly, one day when I was out wandering the stream bed it hit me… oh my goodness, faeries were real all along.

Because when I left everything I thought I knew behind, I could feel the currents of just how much flows through the unseen. I could sense that the earth was animated by deep rivers of consciousness, much deeper than my simple human mind could entirely conceive. I saw my smallness, my very human self-centeredness, and it was a relief to let it go completely.

I realized that to believe that my one consciousness could perceive all there is to be seen is tantamount to a house fly thinking she has seen the entire world in her lifetime. It was liberating, to realize just how little I knew. And when I finally embraced the fact that there was an Otherworld, just beyond my gaze, I opened a channel for true magic to begin to flow from the unseen into my daily being.

I’m what you call clairsentient. I know things because I feel them. Most of the time I don’t have visions or hear voices, I just sink into the animal of my body and move from the gravity tug of feeling. I believed that faeries (or elementals) existed. I could feel them. But I never expected to see one…. Until, I did.

It was one of those moments where there is no space for disbelief. It happens, you embrace it completely, and then afterwards you find yourself spinning… what gift was I just given?

Autumn is the season of the Otherworld. The season when the skin-thin partition between the seen and the unseen softens. It’s a time when we can come more closely in contact with the denizens of the Otherworld and establish a flow of communication that can guide us through the rest of the wheel of the year.

Plants are often eager to help us make these connections. They are bridge builders between the seen and the unseen. There are certain plants I call on just for this reason. You can learn more about them (and how to open the gateways to deep perception) in my Herbs for the Otherworld course. I’m excited to gather with you there.

And as for my story of seeing a faerie, well, I’m happy to share the tale with you on this blustery Autumn day. Grab a cup of tea and come get cozy with me in my new new video below, Working with Elementals.

And remember that the easiest way to access the Otherworld is so much more simple than you think…. just play.

 

 

Reishi: A Psychedelic of the Unseen

 

Joining the Unseen

Though we pride ourselves in this country on what we can capture, quantify and see, it’s a simple fact that the vast (and I mean vast) majority of our world is made up of the unseen. As human beings we are only privy to a very small window of experience. Meanwhile we move through a world that is built out of things we cannot touch or hold, or even understand fully. Dark matter, atoms, electromagnetic frequency— what we can perceive is only a very small fraction of the multitudes of worlds within our world.

Traditional peoples always understood that what we see as reality is just a sliver of a much larger experience.  The tip of a vast iceberg, a reality that plunges down deep below the level of our day-to-day being. Scientists now hypothesis that over 98% percent of the universe is invisible. With the discovery of the atom as the basic chemical unit of all of life, a picture began to emerge that no physicists previously thought possible. Through all the experiments into this building block, we have come to find that the space between an atom’s nucleus and the outer electrons is so great, that atoms themselves are over 99% empty space.  We have come to see that our world is literally more no-thingness than tangibility. In fact, if we removed all of the space from all of the atoms in every single human being, all of humanity could fit in the size of an apple. That is how much substance we truly contain. What we view as reality is made up, vastly, by the unseen.

We are so small and always, and ever, on the lip of exploring the magnanimous world of what lies just beyond our vision. In autumn we are fully invited to let go of the need to grasp or prove, and just fully join the realms of the unseen. Old emotions, memories, the worlds of the ancestors, spirits, the invisible threads that keep our world spun into a single web of being. We, like all beings, are made up primarily of the unseen. In autumn, when the trees empty themselves of leaves, and yet still remain alive, when the wind howls and pumpkins die on the vine, we are asked to examine and discard even our concepts of death, matter and endings. We are asked to reach beyond our five senses, to recognize that the existence of the Otherworld in all things and begin to reclaim our roles as priestesses, poets and agents of the unseen.

 

>> Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum, G. Tsugae) <<

Mushrooms are masters of the realms of the unseen and the in-between. Neither plant, nor animal, nor mineral, mushrooms occupy a space of being that is hard to communicate…let alone conceive. Like us, mushrooms breath. They take in the same oxygen we so unconsciously praise, and exhale the same spent carbon dioxide. Many people lump mushrooms in with the plant kingdom but mushrooms are actually as different from those chlorophyll-loving beings as we are from a blade of grass.

Mushrooms are reminders that what lies at the heart of the world is the unseen. Growing from soft logs and standing trees, mushrooms are the wisely-timed blooms of a much larger, hidden network of vegetation called mycelium— colonies of branching beings that extend underneath the soil of our entire world.  If ever there was magic that lived in the very roots of all things, it is mycelium. Mycelium breaks down massive amounts of organic material, turning autumn’s leaves into the rich humus of a forest floor. Without mycelium, life on our planet, and the great relief of autumn’s dying, would be irrevocably altered. Mycelium is not only an organism (and some say the largest organism on earth) it is also as a network of interaction. Trees and other plants are able, not only to communicate, but also send vital nutrients to each other through the infinite strings of this mysterious web. Mycelium is central to the interconnected functioning of our world. In fact, mycelium is so adept as breaking down and ferrying organic compounds, many think they might be the first to adapt to the new chemicals of our world, transmuting radiation and pollutants into something more benign.

Growing from this vast unseen network are the mushrooms that thrive on life in decay.  Agents of transformation, blooms that point to the ever-present unseen. And here in our woods there is one mushroom that tells this tale most vividly.

Ganoderma tsugae, our local Reishi species, is named for the genus of the trees on which they flourish, the Eastern hemlocks (Tsugae candensis). These magnificent hemlocks used to dominate large swaths of southern Appalachia. They were an iconic tree of these woods, its past and history. But today, almost all of these great hemlocks are falling. The wooly adelgid, an invasive East Asian insect, has single-handedly brought down an entire population. And as the Hemlocks fall, the Reishis boom.

In these mountains Reishi is sought after, searched for and prized like gold. Every summer I try to dry enough to begin my ritual of imbibing Reishi tea, beginning on the first cold night of autumn. As a holder of the space between the waking and dead, an entry point into an earthly network of the unseen, Reishi is a powerful initiator of the autumn’s medicine.

The Asian species of Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is called Ling zhi, which translates as “spirit plant.” In traditional Chinese medicine, this rare wild mushroom was reserved for the emperor and his court. Reishi was cherished for its ability to nourish the heart and safeguard shen (the Chinese word for the concept of a person’s individual soul, the consciousness that is housed within the heart). A disconnection from or disruption of our shen can manifest as anxiety, moodiness, and poor memory. In Chinese medicine  are actually two shens. There is our wider spirit, our big Shen (with a capital S), and our little shen, the aspect of our light and the individual soul that animates our current selves. Reishi, as a medicine, can help nourish our small shen so effectively that we can begin to become aware of and interact with the larger, vastly invisible, Shen from which we come.

Reishi, called the “immortality mushroom”, is a powerful tonic of longevity. As an adaptogen, cardiotonic, immunomodulator, antiviral, hepatoprotective and nervine, it is a rich and nourishing fungus for every day decoctions and broths. Traditionally used in China and Japan for a whole host of conditions including, chronic hepatitis, hypertension, arthritis, insomnia, bronchitis, asthma, and deficient Qi. In clinical trials Reishi has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, inhibiting the clumping of platelets. It can also reduce angina and arrhythmia by improving artery flow. It has a deep affinity for our lungs, as well as our hearts and is also a powerful anti-cancer remedy, used in prevention, treatment and to protect against the negative side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. (Want a yummy way to imbibe Check out our recipe for Dark Magic Reishi Maple Truffles.)

An alchemical tonic of whole health, at its heart (its own shen), Reishi is a deep psychedelic. By definition a psychedelic is any substance that expands our consciousness, and part of Reishi’s Dao is to help us connect into a wider, mythic state of being. Reishi is a shen expander in ever sense of the world. Though much subtler than a medicine like Psilocybin, Reishi has the ability to shift our perception of reality. Over the years I’ve had many experiences of sipping on Reishi tea and clearly entering into an altered state of being. I remember one day in particular, I showed up to teach a class on flower essences at the Chestnut School for Herbal Medicine and was so elevated from a cup of fresh Reishi my dear friend Juliet said to me, “If I didn’t know you any better I’d think you were high on weed!” Drank on its own in a decoction, Reishi can invoke feelings of expansion, interconnection, and shimmering reality.

In this lifetime we are like mushrooms, small blooms bursting forth from a vast network of invisible being. When we can connect into this place of the unseen, we are enriched by a magnanimous sense of vibratory interconnection and well-being. The feeling that we belong to a wider, more radiant world. The reanimation of our individual souls, and the remembrance of our big Shen, the home from which we all came.

 

 

Are you ready to exponentially open your awareness of autumn’s subtle psychedelia and learn about the gatekeepers who guard its portal? Check out the class: Herbs for the Otherworld.

 

 

Article originally published in Plant Healer Magazine

Summer as a Season of Rest

Summer as a time of rest is almost unheard of around these parts. For all those that garden or homestead it can feel as though the tasks are never-ending. And even those who don’t tend the land seem to fill their coffers with well-intended parades of vacation, work projects, or pie making, but the end result is often the same. We pray for Autumn to come so we can receive a break from the break.

Like the waterfall buzz of cicadas, the high-whine rush of summer seems to be ever-repeating the need for growth. We see the sunflowers grow twice our height in the span of a month, the grass following quickly behind, and there is some deep internal nudging inside of us that says: You, too, must grow so tall, so quickly, so fast! In high summer, however, there comes a natural time when all our bustling projects fall flat. Like seltzer water left out on a sunlit patio. Try as we might (and, to be sure, we try mightily!) we never get quite enough done as these long sunny days would suggest. And perhaps this is when we should simply it let all fall like the head of a blossom gone to fruit and seed.

We often see high Summer and the dead of Winter as opposite wings on the wheel of the year but the truth is that they have more in common than we might imagine. Like the Yin and Yang, anything that is opposite also holds the other within it. The essence of Winter, and its demand for rest, recuperation and the re-gathering of vision, is flecked like mica throughout the high summer months. In Winter, we rest because there is nothing to plant but dreams. In high Summer, there is a similar pause. At the hottest peak of the day, there is often nothing to do but take our well-mixed creations out of the oven. Let them cool on the windowsill and give ourselves a moment of quiet regeneration and soulful reprieve.

Check out my new video below for a guide to Summer as the Season of rest, replete with my favorite herbs for taking it E A S Y.

Learn more about Passionflower medicine

Visit the Hibiscus flower essence in the shop

Finding your Solar Power

Summertime is like a linen sheet left out on the line—  highlighted, outlined and defined by the omnipresence of sunshine. It sets the poppies aglow and warms the strawberries to ripeness. It pops open the peonies and lights the bowl of our days like porcelain.

Enlivening and inciting, the sun is the very definition of power-full. It is because of the deep eminence of the sun, that our Qi, the life force that animates our own bodies, sparks to life. Next time you are outside try baring your chest to the deepness of the light and see what happens. It might take a moment but soon you will feel infused with a power that throws the shoulders back, opens the heart gate, and helps you truly radiate.
Continue reading “Finding your Solar Power”

The Season of Pleasure

In the wheel of the year each season has its distinctive gifts, its own character and flavor. There is a time for hermitage and planting, harvesting, seeking, risking, budgeting and even dying. But it’s only in summer that pleasure takes center stage.

Here in the mountains, we are just now tipping into the true growpoint of summer and a particular richness is beginning to take center stage. An invitation to kick back, practice relaxing and let senusousness take center stage.
Continue reading “The Season of Pleasure”

A Flower Portal

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Every spring is a kind of portal. An opening where absolutely everything has the possibility to change. When what was dormant can become activated in an entirely new way. Every winter I forget something of what it means to be alive, and every spring, in the softness of the mud and rain, I remember.

A portal is something that brings you through, beyond, helping you to move past what was once a boundary and step into the subtle winds of a new threshold. Portals deliver you into a place that has always existed, but that you haven’t yet glimpsed. They open gateways to other worlds, and deeper universes inside of oneself.
Continue reading “A Flower Portal”

When Violets Speak

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I first moved to these mountains in spring. Early spring, when things are still raw with beginning. It felt fitting. I had left behind my entire life in New York City— my relationship, my community and career— to start anew in Appalachia. I brought only what would fit into my car, leaving space for the bigness of what I was carrying, the dream of what life could possibly be like moving forward: To live in daily communion with the natural world, to come into the vividness of my being, to open up the doors of self-initiation that had only been hinted at previously.
Continue reading “When Violets Speak”

Opening Earth Intuition

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At some point growing up I adopted the belief that to be spiritual was to be un-intellectual. That intuition, even though it sounded lovely, wasn’t grounded or practical. And even though I was always a sensitive and dreamy kid, at a young age I was set to prove that I too could be smart, rational, based in physical reality, and above all, “realistic.”

And so it wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I started to believe in faeries. It wasn’t until I become an adult that I started talking to trees in earnest. It wasn’t until I experienced chronic illness and understood, for the first time, that I existed on many levels (and that healing, true healing, happened on every single one of those levels) that I accessed a layer of magic within the world that is real, tangible. It wasn’t until this point in my life that I realized— the world, this world that I live in, is animated by sentience and consciousness. And so anything is possible.
Continue reading “Opening Earth Intuition”

Autumn Melancholy + Saturnian Journeys

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It is late October, and the peak of the Equinox has come and gone. The fields are golden with constellations of butter-colored squash and dried corn, and every day the light grows dimmer. In the wheel of the year, autumn is a time of both extravagant wealth and liberating death. As the days curl up like leaves, smaller and smaller, we are presented with more literal darkness and invited into a conflicted space of both reapening and reflection.

Autumn wears two crowns. The bright bittersweet berry and the bones of blackberry thorns. It is a time of dichotomy, of arrival and departures, endings and beginnings. Fall is an overwhelmingly evocative season, one that carries the crisp scent of nostalgia at midday, and the fog of old longings at night. For autumn’s light, thin as sorghum syrup poured in early morning sunrise, is the last of its kind. The final flicker before we enter the cave of winter— after fall we are subsumed by the dim unknown. In any spaces of darkness our eyes naturally widen and seek. And in autumn, our pupils begin to open like ponds into the deep.

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writing by lamplightAutumn’s darkness has a peculiar sheen, like an obsidian scrying stone, there is much to see in such opaque depths. Darkness, an aspect of living that is as integral as the shadow to the light, has been much demonized in our contemporary society; it consorts so closely with the unknown. Traditionally, this time of the year was recognized as a moment when the veils thin and what exists in the underworld (aka. the worlds underneath our perception of this world) can be made visible. The true underworld is not a place of demons or devils; it is the unexplored terrain of the soul. It is a place of individuation, searching, seeking, and deep creation. Like Pele and her lava, this dark place holds the regenerating force of creation in flux, the fluidity that births new land.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetAutumn presents us with the opportunity to accept this inward quest, and acknowledge the vital importance of death. In autumn we can consciously invite in the dissolution of old habits or ideas, relationships, ways of being, or concepts of the world. Death, in truth, is a kind of harvest; we cannot collect the seed until the sunflower has become hunched and blackened like a crone. Autumn reminds us that death is a natural cycle of life, and in death there is nothing to fear. We engage in petite deaths all the time— the end of the day, the end of a phase, the end of our moon. Our soul is intimately interested in death. In fact, it is so curious that each and every one of us is born into a body that will one day die. Without death or darkness, how can we be reborn?

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetDepression is a heavy word in our culture. It carries as much weight as the ferry on the river Styx. As a society, we fear depression, just as we fear death and descent. In the olden days the word melancholy was often used. In contrast to depression, melancholy is not a deaf sinking or a mute plunge into nothingness; it is a search, as important and heroic as an anchor seeking deeper shores. Melancholy is born from a fervent yearning for meaning, a desire to know the purpose behind the pulp of ife. This search is fecund. It is the force that drives us into the unexplored terrain of the soul. In his book Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore echoes the importance of melancholy, recognizing depression’s emptiness as a type of alchemy that can transform the very fabric our lives. Many seeds must first be buried in darkness before they can bloom into light. Melancholy, and all the deep creativity it engenders, is a kind of planting. Traditionally associated with the God Saturn (who is also the God of harvest, age, wisdom, density and wealth), melancholy is a kind of passport into other worlds. In the old days, those who were considered constitutionally melancholy were sometimes called “Saturn’s children” and treated with respect. As progeny of such a distant and deep planet, we are usually asked to travel far.

SaturnWe all move through Saturnian times in our life. Anyone who has experienced the enormity of change that can accompany your own personal Saturn return already understands the heavyweight importance of such underworld journeys. [Saturn return is a term in astrology, marking when Saturn returns to the same point in the sky that it occupied the moment you were born. This cycle comes about in 27-30 year intervals and is generally accepted to herald a time of massive transformation, new directions and change]. Whether you are literally in your Saturn return, or simply descending into a Saturnian moment, we must remember that such sinking is not the same as driftlessness. Every descent has its necessity, every death its reasons. The autumn leaves on the tree do not wonder why they flame and fall, they simply let go.

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Saturn and its melancholy asks us to go deep, casting off our surface personalities to seek the wider identities of our soul. At its most primal element, a Saturian autumn is a time of approaching mystery. Not only the mystery of death and beginnings, fairy tales or witches brews, but the unfathomable mystery of oneself. As Oscar Wilde wrote near the end of his life, “The final mystery is oneself. When one has weighed the sun in the balance, and measured the steps of the moon, and mapped out the seven heavens star by star, there still remains oneself. Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul? “

Autumn is the time for approaching the brave trajectory of your own soul. It is the season in which we are asked to simply witness our rotation, recognizing the fecundity within the dark sides of our moon, and accepting the shadowy gifts autumn’s Saturnian return.

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Earth Alchemy finalThe Birth of Earth Alchemy

Several months ago I was sitting amongst a patch of Ghost Pipe on the forest floor when, like an ember thrown from a far off fire, Carnelian sailed into my awareness. In that moment, a flame burst into being. I recognized that these two medicines were asking to create magic together, and so I bowed my head and made it a reality. Only a month prior Kunzite + Mimosa has engaged me in a similarly surprising waltz. With this imploring I knew that a new era of One Willow had been born, and so I began to gather tinder to feed this deeply inspiring spark. By definition, alchemy is a practice that can literally transform matter. Soon after I began working with these earth medicines, I knew these elixirs held the ability to turn even the darkest elements into gold. Now, in the richness of this Saturnian time, I am so proud to announce the beginning of One Willow’s new Earth Alchemy line, an ever-evolving collection of flower and stone pairings that have asked to be breathed into life.

Ghost Pipe + Carnelian is the second essence in this alchemical collection. In recognition of this season I wanted to introduce you to the two beings behind this glowingly transformational essence.

carnelianCarnelian

In Chinese medicine there exists a concept of ghosts that goes far beyond our understanding of hauntings. In traditional Asian medicine ghosts are not simply the energetic residue of the formally living, they are entities that result from a resistance to what is, a tear in our resonance with the universe. When we resist or reject our current circumstances, we often cause a split. In this way of thinking ghosts can actually be aspects of ourselves— unresolved grief, unacknowledged loss, regrets, guilt, and the haunting of old hurts. In traditional Taoist medicine Carnelian was thought to help move (and thus integrate) the ghosts we have accumulated throughout our lives. This fiery stone works an emissary, or torch, helping energies get to where they ultimately belong. Carnelian can help us mend that original split, enabling us to let go of the grief that has caused us to stagnate in dark places for so long. Historically, carnelian is linked to courage, bravery, and the ability to be eloquently bold. More contemporary understandings of Carnelian revere this embered stone for its ability to help us step into spaces of personal power and leadership. Carnelian encourages us to take action in our lives, moving us like a flame through the darkness in order to manifest our brightest dreams. Carnelian emboldens us to find our deepest courage and take the leap into the unknown.

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Ghost Pipe

Ghost Pipe (Monotropa uniflora) is an eerily unique being, one that has captivated the hearts of many people over the years. It is one of the few plants that lacks chlorophyll and survives in a semi-parasitic (some would say symbiotic) relationship by tapping into the mycorrhizal networks of the forest. It has roots in both depth and dependency, embodiment and death. Ghost Pipe has often been associated with states of the underworld, and as a guardian of the threshold it seems to rise like a ghost from the dark forest floor. As an essence, Ghost Pipe can help us enter liminal spaces with safety. In Sean Donahue’s beautiful article on this evocative plant he writes, “Ghost Pipe to me is the distillation of the consciousness of the forest — of the deep peace that comes from complete integration in the cycles of birth and death to the point where the distinction ceases to have meaning.”

Ghost Pipe reminds us that, in truth, death and rebirth are one in the same. Emerging from the soil in a pale stand of downward facing hoods, this plant seems to embody the penetrating vision of the crone— the movement of bringing ones gaze into the inner worlds. After this plant is fertilized, the flower shades a miraculous pink and turns its face upwards to the sky. Ghost Pipe is an exotic example of the life-giving essence than can arise from our journey into the underworld. Once we allow ourselves the time of descent our souls require, we can fertilize a whole new generation, the blush of a fully lived existence returning to our cheeks to help us show our faces even more gallantly to the world.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetGhost Pipe has fallen out of contemporarily popular materia medicas, but was in wider use in the early Americas, where is was listed in King’s American Dispensatory. A nervine, antispasmodic and diaphoretic, Ghost Pipe turns purple when tinctured, a velvety reminder of the insightful alchemy that can happen when seek our medicine in the depths.

Ghost Pipe has historically been used in drop doses as a pain remedy. This curious companion was cited to help “put the pain beside you” where it can be examined, and ultimately transcended. Depression can be overwhelming, but when we focus on the pain we prevent ourselves from moving deeper into the places that our discomfort is asking us to address. Ghost Pipe can help us to put aside the intensity of the hurt and see our wounds as an opening into a truly transformational journey of the soul.

Please note: At this point and time I only recommend using Ghost pipe as a flower or vibrational essence (as it in within our Earth Alchemy line), as it is becoming increasingly endangered due to over-harvesting.

Ghost pipe + Carnelian final A guide for the Saturnian journeys of our lives

Life, like clouds, moves in cycles. Moments of brightness and clarity exist just as wholly as shape-shifting horizons of storm. To acknowledge the light, is to recognize the darkness, and to interact with the shadow is to learn about the very nature of light. A remedy of ember and empowerment, Ghost Pipe + Carnelian is a guide for such journeys into the underworld.  In the old days, the natural seasons of melancholy were considered the domain of Saturn— the Roman God of wealth and wisdom, dissolution and depth, harvest, wholeness and liberation. Ghost Pipe + Carnelian is a torch for all those who are ready to move through the Saturnian journeys of their life. An invaluable ally in times of depression, darkness, or stagnation, this powerful pairing reminds us that we are, in truth, our own guides. We must only trust the imperceptible path. When we embark with willingness into the worlds that lay beyond this one, we consciously enter into the terrain of the soul. Ghost Pipe + Carnelian emboldens us to embrace entirely new ways of soulful seeing and being, a journey of consciousness that necessitates the death of the old. This dynamic essence dispels any energies that may be hindering our quest— ghosts, cords or parasitic attachments, and reminds us that rebirth always arises from places obscured.  A bravely alchemical pairing, Ghost Pipe + Carnelian gives us the power and energy to burn like lava through the darkness, manifesting entirely new land.

// Visit Ghost Pipe + Carnelian in the shop //

My Traveling Medicine Pouch

Medicine PouchWhenever I travel I always pack a medicine pouch. Over time this has evolved. From bandaids and first aid salves to tinctures, feathers, stones and talismans. As the years flow by my very definition of medicine changes, grows, and transforms– from the sturdy resiliency of the western medical breastplate, to the more ineffable healing of the natural world, quiet and effective as the swoop of silent downy owls. More than a balm for physical aliments, Medicine is anything that helps you to grow, transform, fulfill, and remember. Medicine is a kind of energy that can bring us back to the truth of our mystery. Medicine, real medicine, reminds us of who we are — infinite creatures who are capable of infinite healing.

Traveling itself is a deep kind of medicine for me. It is a time when I am allowed a kind of shamans-view of my life. I slip out of the confines of my day-to-day and journey, meeting strange and wonderful allies, encountering obstacles, seeing life from an expanded perspective. Every time I travel I come closer to home. I am able, with distance, to see more clearly – what is feeding me, and what isn’t? What newness would I like to call into my life? And what would I like to let go?

Over these next past few weeks I’ve be traveling from the mossy hollows of Washington state to the canyon lands of red-drenched Arizona. In just a few short days I’ll be arriving at the HerbFolk gathering for my teaching debut, and I am elated to be passing the time until then swimming in streams and lounging amongst their lemon and limestone banks. My medicine bag for each journey is different, as I change and grow and transform, so does my medicine. As a snapshot in time, I am offering a petite view into my medicine bag for this trip. This is where I am. This is my medicine.

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medicine pouch 1[From right to left]

Spilanthese flowers: This zesty eyeball-like flower is one of my most important travel remedies. A brightening immune stimulant, I nibble on a flower head or take a couple droppersful of the tincture whenever I feel the icy approach of a cold or illness. It is particularly helpful when wanting to avoid airplane plagues. I like to dry the flower and wrap them up in smoky pieces of buckskin for safekeeping. It’s simple to travel with on trains or trails, and still packs a considerable punch! Spilanthes is easily adaptable to a wide variety of garden soils and such a curiously fun plant to grow.

Spirit Quartz/Cactus amethyst: Sometimes the medicine chooses us. I was at a stone show earlier this summer when this captivating ally drew me in, flickering iridescent like a hummingbird at its nectar. Once I laid eyes upon the crystal patterns of this intricate amethyst I was under it’s spell. I am always cycling in and out of relationship with different stones (just as I am with plant medicines, new music and the very tides). I almost never consciously chose which stone will be at the center of my new medicine wheel, it’ll simply appear in my life as sudden as the full moon rises from a veil of cloud. I can do nothing but stop, steep and howl. I often will “look up” what others have written about a stone long after the initial romance has begun and, most often, what I’ve intuitively picked up is only further embroidered by other’s experiences. This stone has been a powerful ally for me in connecting with the conscious creativity of my wider spirit, inviting deeper awareness of my particular brand of power and an invocation to personal evolution.

Black tourmaline I almost always carry this piece of black tourmaline on me. It is helpful for creating healthy psychic boundaries as well as protecting against negative energies. As someone who identifies as unavoidably empathic (sometimes detrimentally so!) I value the companionship of this stone deeply. Known to help those who hold a lot of energy to “decharge”, it is a vital stone for anyone who facilitates healing work. I like to hold a piece of black tourmaline after my consultation sessions or classes to return to my own naturally grounded state of being.

Kunzite Mimosa no textKunzite + Mimosa Elixir Every time I travel I choose one vibrational elixir to imbibe every day. These past few weeks I’ve been exploring with Kunzite + Mimosa, a deeply inspirational (and impeccably timed) vibrational pairing. This past summer an idea for a new line of medicine called Earth Alchemy began to take shape. Like dawn through the earliest fog, it began with a whisper. I had never thought to combine kunzite stone and mimosa flower together when one day, like a songbird landing on the ledge of a clearly lit window, the two of them simply appeared to me. I certainly never ignore the implorings of any kind of earth messengers, and so began a whole new era of medicine making. I’m hoping to do a longer post where I can visit on the inspirations these two vital medicines have brought to me but, in the meantime, I continue to be this elixir’s devotee. Joy exists in every moment, and in every moment we have the opportunity to simply enjoy. A natural pairing of soft heart openers, Kunzite + Mimosa helps us to inhabit our innate spirit of optimistic effervescence and glee. I couldn’t think of a better medicine to accompany me on these travels. How blessed I’ve been on this journey…rose petal offeringsRose Petal offerings It is important to me to bring offerings whenever I travel. Handharvested sage, tobacco from my garden, stones I found and greatly love. I like to leave offerings where ever I lay my head– at the roots of tree, in the banks of rivers, and with friends who graciously offer to host me. This trip I’ve brought a very special offering with me. These rose petals graced a creativity altar of mine from this past spring. The altar, which was laden with fresh roses, citrine and zincite, was instrumental in helping me to begin working on a long-dreamed project– my book! I lovingly dried each rose petal from that altar and now, over 8 months later, I’ve decided to take these vibrantly creative offerings with me. I give gratitude with all my heart, my hands, and from the deepest flow of my spirit’s creativity.

Elecampagne Root I love to dry roots and bring them with me as an easy-to-chew remedy. Elecampagne is such a valuable ally for me in times of digestive upset, coughs, colds and bronchial disparity. I particularly love to gnaw on a knob when I’ve had one too many airport meals. When I’m nervous I pull out a thin root to chew steadily, it never fails to assuage shaky or nervous energy.

Kunzite + mimosaFor all our journeys, inner and outer, from valleys to mountaintops to new found destinies.. Blessings!