Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Art From The Rose Garden

I found myself back on this blog, playing in the garden ... So if you're reading this even after my long absence, I thank you so for checking back in with me! 

I thought I'd share some art with you.  My mom and I have the same birthday (different years, of course!), so for her/our birthday, she and I and my younger daughter headed to the nearby rose garden to create art and experiment (if we wished) with haiku.  My mom occasionally paints and draws, and she's also a writer, and a gardener, and a naturalist, so I thought it would be fun to share what we love all in one go!

Here's my daughter's art:

She captured a lot of detail about the rose plant itself:

Here's my mom's.  She calls it "Perfect Scent":

And here's mine:

What fun we had!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Deepening The Garden

Hello, dear Readers!

Earlier this year I pondered the fate of my blogs, having started a couple of new ones.  Five seemed absurd!  At the time I decided to continue this one -- I do like it here!  But as the months progressed, I've discovered that much of what I enjoy posting about here actually has a voice in my new blogs -- or would, if I allowed this little field to leave my care and go feral :-).  In trying to tend many blogs, I'm finding I'm not able to tend well to any (a predictable result!).

So ... If you enjoy posts that focus on herbs, being a mom, self-directed learning, rewilding, and wise village ways, please join me at Moms Create Culture.   This blog is as much about my own personal journey as a mom attempting to create and nourish heart-centered culture starting with my own home and garden as much as intending to help moms create and deepened resilient, nature-and-soul-connected culture in their businesses and communities.

If you are more interested in plant spirit medicine, Reiki, sound healing, or music (harp and song), spiritual seeking, the magic of nature, and story ("inner tracking" or narrative medicine) you might want to check out my blog at Singing Deer Healing.  

You'll find an intermingling of topics on both.  I'm not going just write about herbs or wise village ways, or connecting with the nature of your place in just Moms Create Culture, for instance.  But I intend to let you know in either blog when a post in the other might be of particular interest to you (assuming you don't want to subscribe to both blogs!). 

Fox Tales is my third blog.  This one is dedicated to what I call "magical nature story" -- my fiction, photo-stories, and perhaps other creative expressions for children and the child in you.  I have a feeling this blog will evolve (as they all will, no doubt) but for now it features weekly installments of my children's novel-in-progress, Because Of The Red Fox.

So thank you for reading a harper's garden!  I've certainly enjoyed tending this little garden, and have been honored by your company within it!  I do hope to "see" you in the deepening garden of my creative expression and voice in one of my other "ecologies", or two, or in all three :-).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Honoring Song To Oats (Avena sativa)

Please join me in the garden!  Here I offer an honoring song (improvised in the moment to the Oats (Avena sativa) as I harvest oat tops to make a tincture.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Chickens: Alas, Poor Bluestar + Kooshie the Amazing

We received word this morning that Bluestar, one of our Black Gourmet (a meat breed) hens had passed away. Tears didn't accompany this news, because in a large way this hen has lived longer than we ever guessed she would. A couple of years ago Bluestar developed bumblefoot, which, though we tried in various ways to heal, just got steadily worse.  She ended up limping about on one foot, resembling (to our fanciful minds) a "dufflepud" from The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (in the Narnia Chronicles) by C. S. Lewis.

She survived the long cold winter in NE Oregon (even when Cheeseball, her companion on the ground floor of the hen house, passed away).  And she continued on, limping about, and huddling near the feeder for the next year.

The above photo is from a year ago.

Few tears doesn't mean that we're not sorry that she's gone.  With each passing of our hens in far off Washington, we wish we could bring them close again, but it really wouldn't have worked out to have these large birds in our somewhat small suburban backyard!

Bluestar was my younger daughter's favorite hen when we first got our flock.  A young Gwynne would scoop this (then) large bird up and cart her around the yard. 

(a sigh as I type for days of yore)

On the other hand, Kooshie's story is that of a miracle.  Several weeks ago, our friend who is caring for our "big girls" in Washington, phoned to tell us that one of the Easter Eggers had gotten caught in the electric fence.  Who knew how long she'd been caught, but she was all tangled up, and had to be cut out.  Our friend brought Kooshie inside, and placed her under a heat lamp, and wrapped her up.  Kooshie was alive but wouldn't move or open her eyes, and we all feared the worst about her.  I sent Reiki, and beseached my  plant allies for help on Kooshie's behalf.   Many tears indeed were shed, as Kooshie is my older's daughter's hen, and is quite a sparkling personality (she flies to her arm).

Later that day our friend called to say that Kooshie had opened her eyes, and drunk a little water.   A report the next day was that she was standing up, and had eaten.  Within a few days she was back with her flock, fully recovered.  Even as our friend reported Bluestar's death this morning, she also told us that Kooshie was still perfectly well.  It was as if her trauma had never happened.

Our life with chickens is such a microcosm of life and death and trials and celebrations.  I'm in such gratitude for these serious and silly birds, for the love they have awoken in my daughters, in our family, and how they teach us about both the fragility and resilience of life.

Kooshie -  a photo from our visit to Vashon last Dec.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Children's Art and Chickens

I have a backlog of posts on things herbal for this blog, but thought I'd share with you some art I scanned today (they are garden related!).

I love the art children create.  On Vashon Island, our former home and home-to-be-again, first Fridays of the month are celebrated as First Friday Art Walks.  On these Fridays, art galleries and shops and cafes showcasing local artists present new displays of art.  You get to meet the artist, enjoy yummy snacks, chat with fellow viewers, and enjoy fabulous and fun art by folks you know and folks you don't.  When our family was part of a homeschool co-op, I thought it would be a cool idea to feature our children's art in one of our homes and include it in the art walk.  The art could rotate each month, featuring new artwork by the children.

Well, I never saw this vision to fruition, though in our own home for a time I made sure to showcase our girls' artwork in frames and rotate the artwork.  Even now I prefer to display artwork we create, rather than buying that of professionals (unless I know and love them!).   I love the freshness of children's art!

These paintings are by Gwynne from a number of months back, of a rooster (above) and of Amri's rooster, Lord Firestar (to the left).

And since we're on the subject of chickens, I'll include a photo of Lord Firestar with the first bloom of the season of our Mr. Lincoln rose.  Aren't they both handsome?


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

From the Ground Up: Grassroots Training in Traditional Western Herbalism

I've been looking forward to this five-part course for ages.  The concepts of Traditional Western Herbalism have fascinated me, and I've spent many an evening musing over Matthew Wood's books expressing herbal medicine from this perspective.  To me, the ideas expressed in this tradition offer a fascinating and potentially very effective compass of perceptions to glimpsing and stepping into the unique ecology of one's family members, friends, or clients in a respectful, receptive manner, and from that place, offering herbs more attuned to that person and his or her condition.  That's my take on all this!  We'll see what my journey with the herbs from this perspective leads me!  - Jane 

From the Ground Up: Grassroots Training in Traditional Western Herbalism

by Jesse Wolf Hardin on April 13th, 2010

At long last! –– the release of the greatly anticipated
of a 5 course program for the village herbalist: From the Ground Up: Grassroots Training in Traditional Western Herbalism
Written & Taught by Kiva Rose Hardin
After years of preparation, the essential first course in Kiva Rose’s comprehensive 5 course program has just been released, with openings for a select number of committed students.  Foundations in Traditional Western Herbalism provides information and tools that are important for understanding and getting the most from the 4 other courses in this groundbreaking series.  Kiva’s attention to the basics makes the practice of herbalism comprehensible for a beginner, while her unconventional perspective and innovative approach ensure that even experienced herbalists will find themselves learning new concepts, in lessons that not only inform but stretch and challenge, inspire and delight.
Lessons arrive as PDF files, with beautiful, illustrative color photos scattered throughout.

To register, go to the bottom of this post and click on the Application link.

The Course Work
Each lesson consists of a core topic, accompanying definitions and terms, a section on Materia Medica with an in-depth profile of a single herbal ally, and another featuring a description and complete directions for foundational medicine making techniques, with questions and assignments for every section. Course 1 includes 4 lessons:
  • Lesson 1: The Roots of Traditional Western Herbalism
    Materia Medica: Nettles (Urtica spp.)
    Medicine Making: Tisanes, Infusions & Nourishing Infusions
  • Lesson 2: Healing as Wholeness & The Tonic Approach
    Materia Medica: Mullein (Verbascum spp.)
    Medicine Making: Infused Oil
  • Lesson 3: Vitalist Herbalism & The Anima
    Materia Medica: Evening Primrose (Oenothera spp)
    Medicine Making: Decoctions
  • Lesson 4: The Matrix – Healing & the Material World
    Materia Medica: Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)
    Medicine Making: Herbal Baths & Hydrotherapy
Students can take as long as needed to complete work, which includes studies and readings, the answering of questions and the fulfillment of assignments.  It is these assignments that are in some ways the most crucial of all, placing the focus on the immediate, practical utilization of each idea and skill that we learn here.  “This is not so much about memorizing information,” she explains, “but about experiencing the plants and their effects, and learning to understand and integrate those effects in a practical and effective way.”  Once the coursework is completed and emailed back, Kiva reviews it and then writes a single detailed, personal response providing any helpful clarification or correction, further suggested assignments and advice where needed.

Once your Foundations in Traditional Western Herbalism questions and assignments are complete, you may then want to enroll in each of the following, soon to available courses:
  • Course 2: Elements in Energetic Herbalism
  • Course 3: Human Ecology: Physiology & Organ System Energetics for the
    Traditional Herbalist
  • Course 4: Reading the Terrain: Practical Diagnostics for the Traditional Herbalist
  • Course 5: Restoration: Pathophysiology & Diagnostics for the Traditional Herbalist
Course 1 will provide the groundwork for beginning or furthering herbal healing practice, and anyone taking all 5 courses can be confidant of having been given the essential information, means and tools needed to be a highly effective herbalist… whether treating one’s self and family, or giving one’s life to helping heal others.

About Your Instructor
Kiva is the cofounder of the distinctive sense and common sense based Anima Tradition of Herbalism, author of the acclaimed Anima Healing Arts Blog (formerly the Medicine Woman’s Roots), and the village herbalist of the rural community near her lush botanical sanctuary in the wilderness of Southwest New Mexico.  She’s become known for her intuitive understanding of plants and their properties, leading her to discover – or in some cases rediscover – novel uses and treatments, as well as for her evocative, easily understood explanations of energetics, and she and her school’s bioregional emphasis.

Kiva writes: “My focus is firmly on accessible, grassroots herbalism that educates the individual and serves the community, both the human component as well as the larger earthen community. I strongly believe in restoring health at all levels and approach healing from the understanding that the body is a diverse and intelligent ecology, integrally connected to the planet as a whole.”
As her partner in this life and work, I couldn’t be more proud of her efforts, or more impressed with this life-empowering and life-enhancing course.
All courses are offered on a donations basis, with a $200 to $400 suggested sliding scale depending on your ability to contribute and how much you value what is offered.  Those unable to donate the complete amount at once, are invited to contribute over time as able.

Apply Now
To apply, click on the link below, then download, fill out and return the:
Spread the Word
And please make the time to spread the word about this exciting series of courses, by pasting and forwarding this message to your mailing list, or reposting this announcement on your blog or in  appropriate forums you frequent.  Thank you for your patience in waiting for this course to be released, and for your commitment to healing, the plant world and this School.
-Jesse Wolf Hardin
Anima Lifeways and Herbal School and

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Healing Grace of California Poppy

Below is my final assignment for Angie Goodloe's Herbalist 101 course.  Be warned, it's lengthy!  But there's a surprise at the end.  If you have any interest in herbalism, I highly recommend Angie's course.  It's full of information, provides plenty of opportunity for you to get intimate with herbs and make those medicines.  And  Angie provides plenty of feedback and encouragement in her responses to the assignments. Fun stuff!

Also, Angie is currently offering the course at an absurdly low price ($35!).  I assure you, the course is worth far, far more than that!
California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
Alternate names: Copa de ora, Dormidera (the Drowsy One, since this 'sun-worshipping flower' closes its blooms at night)

Family: Papaveraceae  
Patterns of the Poppy family are showy flowers with 2-3 sepals that shed early, petals in multiples of four, lots of stamens.  They often have milky sap in their stems.  Many plants in this family contain narcotic alkaloids.  Narcotics depress the central nervous system, sedating and offering relief from the feeling of pain (analgesic). [I'm noting Family characteristics in anticipation of work I'm doing with the Kamana Naturalist Training Program.  Currently in that program I'm journaling Plants, which will soon include detailing all the native plant families of my area.]

With that "Family background" in mind, let's explore this beautiful herb ...

The state flower of California, California Poppy is aptly chosen for this honor.    For countless generations the native peoples of California carefully cultivated this plant--as they did with many others--for food and medicine in monocropped expanses on hillside and in valleys.  European settlers thought they had arrived in untouched wilderness.  Not so.  The native peoples practiced sustainable harvesting and sowing that involved controlled burns as part of their land management.

It is said that north of Pasadena early Spanish sailors guided by a golden hillside in spring -- a hillside shining with the bright orange-gold of the California Poppy.  It is also said that this was one reason they dubbed this coast "the Land of Fire" (the other reason being that there were indeed fires a-plenty due to lightning strikes as well as due to the dry, arid summers).
The Yuki tribe used it for toothaches, it was food for the Sierra Miwoks, the Ohlone used it for sleep, the Wintu used it to heal newborn baby belly buttons
The Nisenan ate the leaves either boiled or roasted with hot stones and then laid in water.  The Pomo mashed the seedpod or a decoction of it on a nursing mother's breast to dry up her milk.  And the plant was given to babies as a sedative and placed under the bed for better sleep.  Other tribes rubbed a decoction of the flowers into the hair to kill lice.  The root juice was taken to relieve stomachaches and tuberculosis, and as a wash for weeping sores.

The plant itself: is a perennial or annual (further north) to 2 ft. tall with mostly basal with bluish-green lacelike leaves.  When I lived in the Pacific Northwest, the plant was an annual.  Here in my backyard in the San Francisco Bay Area, the plant is definitely a perennial.  The plant in these photographs is one that has been thriving since our arrival here last June. 

The flowers sit atop a flattened rim on long stalks.  The flowers are of four shiny petals bright orange to yellow in color, sepals fused into cap, and falling off when it flowers.  Many stamens.  The fruit is long and slender, containing many black seeds.   It's so satisfying to collect the seeds!   Just pluck off the dried pods and pop them into an envelope.  The plant flowers from February through November.

The plant is found in grasslands, hillsides, and open areas, in well-drained and poor soil, from Southern California up through Washington.

In terms of modern-day herbalism California Poppy has these characteristics.

Taste: Bitter
Energy: Cool
Organs affected: Liver, Heart
Actions (according to Lesley Tierra): calm the Spirit (I most definitely agree!)
Properties: Sedative, analgesic, anti-diarrheal, antitussove. diaphoretic, antispasmodic 

Indications: anxiety, nervous tension, agitation, neuralgia, pain relief (including acute), nervousness, sciatica, herbes, shingles, heart palpitations, insomnia

Dose: rounded teaspoon of chopped plant as tea, drink 1-3 times daily; fresh plant tincture: 20-60 drops 1-4 times daily.  For sleep problems, take 20-40 drops one hour before sleep, then again right before bedtime.  For bedwetting in children over 5 years old, use with horsetail, 10 drops of each twice/day.

A mild sedative and analgesic, this plant is suitable even for children, though may cause a mild 'hangover' headache the next morning if used in excessive quantities.   Lesley Tierra writes: "California poppy wonderfully sedates, calms and relaxes the nervous system, treating symptoms of anxiety, nervous tension and agitation.  As well, it repairs nerves and alleviates nerve pain, especially from sciatica, herpes and shingles.  It is also used for heart palpitations and insomnia due to nervousness.

Contraindications: large amounts used sometimes cause nausia. Better not to use it during pregnancy.

Collecting: Gather the whole above ground plant and dry it.  Or tincture the whole fresh plant.  When I tinctured California Poppy in the past, I used the whole plant, including the roots.

My Own Experience With California Poppy:
Moving to the Pacific Northwest 12 years ago (from the SF Bay Area) I was overjoyed to discover that California Poppy lived up there.  For me, California Poppy has always represented the spirit qualities of joyfulness and home.  My spirits lift at the sight of this plant in bloom, and I marvel at the softness and lacy beauty of the leaves.  But this plant is no fragile beauty.  There is a boisterousness of spirit that seems to me to announce itself in celebration to the world at large -- to the bees and insects, the natural world, and definitely to us humans!  As plant spirit medicine I have turned to California Poppy whenever I have sought a sense of  'home' within my anxious heart, and the promise of a lively grace that can exist and persist even in the face of inevitable hardships and pain.  I'll sit with the plant, touch its velvety petals or soft foliage, or nibble its leaves or petals.  Just being with this plant opens something true, kind, and strong within me.

More along these lines: When I became a Reiki Master, I intuitively received a series of symbols -- conduits for particular healing energy.  One of them I have come to associate with California Poppy, and this I use in spirit healing whenever I feel that California Poppy's qualities are needed.

A few years ago, my friend Lisa and I gathered the whole plant garden and tinctured it in vodka.  The tincture rapidly became our favorite remedy for sleeplessness due to nervous tension.  I believe Lisa used it with her family successfully to ease tooth pain.  Certainly I would use it for that purpose!  It is my remedy of choice when nervous anxiety is mixed with a need for (physical) pain relief.  

Last year, during our family's transition, I felt my mind returning to nervous anxiety that began again to interfere with my sleep.  The previous year I'd had a long stretch of this, and it was certainly hard to function coherently and in a grounded way at that time!  I pulled out my California Poppy tincture and began to take it at bedtime.  Just a couple nights of this routine and I was able to resume a more restful sleep pattern. 

Here in early spring, new poppy plants are emerging  in our vegetable garden.  The sturdy plant in the photos and in the video below, continues to thrive.  We are astonished by this particular plant, as it was accidently stepped on when we were digging our garden last year.  Somehow -- perhaps because of the love and attention my daughters have lavished upon it since then -- it recovered and has become the bold beauty of the garden.

Below is a video of  the California Poppy.  In it, I listen for a 'medicine song' and infuse it with Reiki.  As you listen to the song, may you experience the healing qualities of this plant!

Thomas Elpel, Botany In A Day
M. Kat Anderson, Tending The Wild: Native American Knowledge And The Management Of California's Natural Resources
Steven Foster and Christopher Hobbs, Western Medicinal Plants And Herbs (Peterson Field Guide)
Herbalpedia 2007
Lesley Tierra, Healing With The Herbs Of Life
Michael Moore, Medicinal Plants Of The Mountain West
Matthew Wood, The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide To New World Medicinal Plants.

Art by me of California Poppy (with Plantain and grasses in the foreground)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Time - for the Sketchbook Project

Recently I participated in The Art House Co-op's Sketchbook Project.  They assigned me the topic of Time, and I set to work.  Quickly I realized I was "running out of time".  First one daughter, then the other, jumped in to help me, and the project became a mother-daughters affair.  My younger daughter contributed a lot of artwork, and my older daughter took a few photos.

Some of it was probably not what the visioners' had in mind: I ended up printing out copies of some of my past art and photos to finish the book.  In the end I sent it off -- on Time -- to The Art House.  Whether they include it in their Tour (the idea is that these sketchbooks will be a library collection, going on tour and then eventually housed in a library), and then enter a permanent collection or not, it certainly ended up being great fun creating a project like this with my daughters.  My younger daughter was especially determined that we finish it--no cutting out pages to do so!

Anyway, here it is.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Checking In, You, and Lavender Wand Recipe

 Corn in our backyard -- in December!  Art by Jane

It's been quite some time since I've posted!  Thank you for sticking with me!.

Just to let you know what's up with me and my blogs.  I've just started a new website and blog, Singing Deer Healing, which is devoted to sharing a soul-nourishing, imaginative, nature-connected life with children.  If you like this blog, you may enjoy that one too.

After puzzling how to proceed (eep, how many blogs can I keep going?), I've decided to continue this one.  It has become a focus for my chronicling my attempts to live a 'magic' life with my own children and my herbal medicine making journey. ... And I feel restful in this space :-).  I don't know how often I will write this blog ... it's probably going to follow a slower gait than, say, Singing Deer Healing or Jane's Medicine Tree (or a possible fourth blog I have in mind centered on  moms and culture), but I'm pretty sure I'll post once or twice a month.  So if that works for you, I invite you to continue reading!

This is a great time for me to get to know you.  What do you love in life?  What is the greatest challenge for you right now?  What have you enjoyed in this blog?   Perhaps I'll just boldly ask "Why are you here?" :-).

What is your greatest wish for the planet?  For your home life?

If you had one message you could deliver to the world that would be truly heard and tended to, what would you say?

Please jot your thoughts in the Comments below.  I'm so delighted and honored that you're here! 

Lavender Wand Recipe 
Awhile back Lauren asked for cooking times and temps for this recipe.  Okay, Lauren, here's the whole recipe--finally!  It uses lots and lots of sugar.  I wonder if it's possible to vary the recipe successfully using honey?  Something for me to experiment with in the future ...  Anyway, here's the recipe.

Preheat oven to 150 F degrees.

In a pan, bring 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil.  Take 30 wands of lavender (do not remove from stem) and place the buds in the boiling sugar water leaving the stems out of the pan.  Reduce heat to medium high, and let boil for 10 min.

Put a thin layer of sugar onto a cookie sheet, to cover the entire sheet

Remove the wands from the sugar water (you can keep the sugar water to use in some other delicious way!) and place them on the sugared cookie sheet.  Spread the wands in a single layer. 

Pour 1 cup of sugar evenly over the wands (yeah, this recipe uses tons of sugar!).  Let set for 2 min.  Turn wands over and sugar again.

Take another cookie sheet, and place the sugared wands on it in a single layer. (save the sugar from the other cookie sheet and when it's cool, store it in a jar in the fridge to have lavender sugar on hand for baking, etc.)

Bake the wands for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool.

Enjoy!  Kids--and the kids in us--just love these enchanted treats!