Yesterday was 77º and 100% humidity, sticky icky. There was no escape sitting outside the DMV in the parking lot waiting for my appointment, I didn’t even have to move and I was sweating. I am menopausal and for the first time, I could not handle the summer heat. Of course, it was unprecedented, easily one of the hottest Summers on record. I had to place a fan in every room. I am not an air conditioning fan – pardon the pun – having grown up in Miami where we have conditioned air throughout the state. I can’t stand the feeling of being in an ice box. Just get the air moving and I am happy. I prefer Martinique, where they have shutter like doors that they throw open for the entire day, mosquito nets over the beds at night. Fairly sexy! Air conditioning would probably short out their entire grid anyway.
We begin the closing of the gardens here in September. We have a window through October to get perennials (herbs) into the ground not to mention Garlic around October 15. I’m planning to plant Echinacea, Lavender, Pleurisy Root, Red Milkweed, Skullcap and Wormwood. I also have to divide Elecampane and spread the love to SDG and Sally Garden, maybe even Seed Song. Pleurisy Root and Red Milkweed begin my experimental plant phase. Harvest this time of year for herbs is roots and seeds for medicine and nutrition. I’d like to get Yellow Dock root to tone my gallbladder. In recent weeks I have cut my meals in half, especially bread. After fourteen years upstate, learning the simple life, one of the coping mechanisms I have found that I engaged in, was gluttony. Fearful of not having enough to eat, I would pile my plate high at every potluck as if storing away food for the lean times. As I write here, perhaps it was survival instinct because the lean times did come.
The simple life has been fruitful. I have developed community and resources. In the last couple of years I have embraced well-being. It is a default sensation these days. I started by praying for peaceful, soulful, peace about seven years ago. My default state is insecurity and any trauma, disruption, challenge, will reduce me to insecurity where I fret and worry and constantly feel unworthy. It was a regular undercurrent in my psyche. Perhaps we all have a degree of the same. Imposter Syndrome is what I have come to understand it to be called in the entrepreneurial world (Marie Forleo).
I studied psychology in college and it will always remain one of my great loves so examining my own mind on a regular basis is a favorite past time. The simple life affords me many opportunities to ponder. One of the benefits I think. So I sat one day and examined my insecurity and decided I didn’t want it anymore. I began to pray for peaceful, soulful, peace. Within a year, I had peace so profound it was astonishing. The subtlety and yet profoundness of engagement with Spirit is amazing. Well-being here, six years later appears to be a byproduct. I did regularly count my blessings, which is what I have found is the mechanism to practice peaceful, soulful, peace (The Secret www.thesecret.tv).
With midlife (and menopause) comes grace. I want to grow old gracefully. My life is unconventional to be sure, but it has been full of wonderful experiences. I am black and a woman and as we are swiftly learning, dismissed within the Empire (Establishment) so for me to have survived with nothing but my wits and now have a glimpse at thriving, is the greatest gift Spirit has bestowed upon me to date.
So with that grace, I lessen my food intake. Through a conversation with a good friend of mine, we came to the conclusion that all of our food intake up to now has created these bodies we have and we probably just need maintenance here on out. My appetite has lessened. According to Susun Weed (New Menopausal Years The Wise Woman Way), losing weight after forty can damage the gallbladder. In her new book Abundantly Well, one should take Dandelion to nourish the gallbladder, Yellow Dock to tone the gallbladder and Gentian to soothe the gallbladder. After about a week or so of cutting my meals in half, I had discomfort in my chest area. It felt like a gallbladder reaction. I started taking Dandelion tincture and then bought Gentian tincture. I have been taking them both for a week now and I want to add Yellow Dock root decoction to round out the care. We can look for an enlightened medical doctor, but for me other herbalists and my intuition are all I have using plant based medicine. My option for health care is Hudson River Healthcare because I wanted a female doctor, but she was fairly hostile when I wanted to discuss herbs so I am now on my own. I have had a fair amount of success managing my healthcare. Susun Weed has, in her new book, explained the journey of her Six Steps of Healing:
Step 0: Do Nothing – Serenity Medicine
Step 1: Collect Information – Story Medicine
Step 2: Engage the Energy – Mind Medicine
Step 3: Nourish & Tonify – Lifestyle Medicine
The Great Divide – The Gap
Step 4: Stimulate/Sedate – Alternative Medicine
Step 5: Use Drugs – Pharmaceutical Medicine
Step 6: Break & Enter – Deep Medicine
I have applied Steps 0 – 3 year after year and have felt better within a week. It appears there is a different timeline in the Wise Woman Tradition. Healing for me can take up to four years. There is so much information to be had, learning our individual bodies. We have lost so much of our natural selves in the rat race. To be sure, it is the purpose of the rat race. How about the human race?
Engagement with plant based medicine is subtle, but profound as I have mentioned. I have had more than one conversation with folks who have felt better with plant based medicine, but are not sure it was the medicine. It is a relationship. Animals, Insects, Plants and Rocks are our family. We can have a relationship with all of them, but it has to be developed. We can spend one year with one plant. One year with one plant affords the opportunity to develop the relationship with what is one’s Plant Ally. Learn the plant through all of its stages. Learn its life cycle. Sit with it, sing to it, meditate with it, sleep next to it, draw it, write about it, day and night, rain or shine. Dandelion is a great example for the process. Dandelion leaf is very nutritious in our Wild Salad. Dandelion flowers can be harvested for nourishing Dandelion wine and here as Autumn is upon us, Dandelion root can be harvested for medicine. The entire plant can also be harvested for medicine. The relationship with plants begins with one’s first venture into plant based medicine and that plant that one notices more often. That plant is your first Plant Ally that has come to you to teach you about you. Courage and faith come into play here as you leap off into the unknown. We are reconnecting with Spirit and sometimes reintroducing information about our Plant Family’s properties. We are often engaging long forgotten and many times feared skills like clairvoyance, intuition, instinct and visions, which all have been demonized through religion. Not for the faint of heart. My mother, who was a Christian and diabetic was taking Nettle infusion and became so frightened by a vision of her childhood, she stopped the use altogether. Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
I will be harvesting Yellow Dock root to make a decoction. I have Yellow Dock seed vinegar and the only other use I had heard of is decoction. It is always a thrill to use a different preparation. Yellow Dock root tincture is also an option. I have harvested Burdock, Dandelion, Elecampane and Poke root this time of year. They are standard medicines in my cabinet. I have harvested Amaranth, Lamb’s Quarter and Plantain seed this time of year. Winter nutrition.
Decoction - fresh herb placed in water, which is then boiled down to half or a quarter of the original amount by slow evaporation, Yellow Dock
Honey – fresh herb filled to the brim of any size mason jar covered with honey, Garlic - immediate use
Sage - six weeks
Infusion – dried (sometimes fresh) – two handfuls into a pint size mason jar covered with boiling water for four to six hours or overnight, Alfalfa, Comfrey, Linden, Nettle, Oatstraw, Red Clover, Red Raspberry
Tincture – fresh herb filled to the brim of any size mason jar covered with hundred proof vodka and let sit for six weeks, place wax paper under lid to prevent rust, use as needed, transfer to dropper bottle, dosage 20 – 60 drops on average* **, (no need to discard herb) label jar with name of herb and date, Burdock, Dandelion, Elecampane, Motherwort, Poke, Skullcap
*Dandelion tincture 10 – 100 drops
**Pokeweed tincture 1 – 10 drops a day, doses over 15 drops a day can cause liver damage
Vinegar – fresh herb filled to the brim of any size mason jar covered with
pasteurized apple cider vinegar and let sit for six weeks, place wax paper under lid to prevent rust, use as you would any vinegar, label jar with name of herb and date, Lemon Balm, Motherwort, Mugwort, White Pine, Yellow Dock,
Plants are individuals just like us. They have their own personality, quirks, etc. They want to be in relationship with us. They are Spirit incarnate. They have messages for us from Spirit. Reverence and gratitude for their presence in our lives is the journey. We engage our individual selves as well. Plant food and medicine is unique to the individual. We can share stories, but once we endeavor the journey is all our own. Spirit reveres us as individuals.
The days have cooled and we dip down into the deep dark come September 22 and Autumn Equinox. Find a ceremony near you. It is part of the herbal dance. We face wildfires and hurricanes now and what Winter will bring. We are in a brave new world, suddenly. An election that will set the tone for the next leg of our lives. More extremes or business as usual. “Sigh.” The thought here in the Northeast, is that food prices will rise come 2021 as the supply chain breaks down. We are approaching 200,000 people lost to Covid. We manage anxiety and depression as we continue to mask up in the general public. Where do we go from here?