|As we spin forward into 2021 (are we there yet, mom?!?), it’s exciting to reflect on what you—our friends, fans, and phenomenal plant family—went herb-wild for through the seasons.Did you know we serve up a splendid spread of free herbal content on our blog?In 2020, we decked the halls of Blog Castanea with garlands of new articles, and re-polished our most popular blogs from seasons past. We brought in new contributors and the blog officially became a team sport. Are you curious which topics were herbally admired and adored this year? And which plants people felt positively passionate about? Get caught up with our Best of 2020 Roll Call:|
By Katherine K. Schlosser
The season of lights is upon us. During this darkest time of the year, we gravitate to earthly sources of light to keep things merry and bright.
Early in our history as a country, many were short on money and luxuries such as candles. Livestock numbers were as yet too low to produce the quantity of tallow needed to make candles affordable, so following the lead of Native Americans, householders turned to candlewood to provide light on winter evenings.
We know candlewood as fatwood or pine knots—the resin-impregnated heartwood of pine trees. Pines that were cut to clear land, build homes, and provide heat for warmth and cooking left stumps in the ground. Those stumps, full of resin, hardened and became rot-resistant…and were an easy source of candlewood. Slim slivers cut from the wood burned hot and bright.
Alice Morse Earle, writing in the 1800s about…
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In Permaculture Design, one of the most challenging principles to enact is “The problem is the solution.” It seems simple on paper: you have a serious problem before you, perhaps seemingly insurmountable or overwhelming. Instead of reacting negatively to the problem, you look for how the problem presents unique opportunities. You resee your practices, hone them, make changes, and adapt to the problem so that that adaptation becomes a strength. In other words, you make lemonade from lemons–but more than that, you may actually improve your approach by having to consider new options to overcome obstacles. A simple example: I have a wet, muddy spot in my yard due to the downspout on my house. Rather than see this as a problem, I turn it into a lush rain garden, which is not only beautiful but…
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The ladder is an everyday object but it has esoteric meaning. It is a symbol of the Freemasons, so it has huge meaning. Most think it means being initiated into higher levels of their club. That is the meaning for the muggles. The meaning of this simple object is very simple. It is just people who have made it complex. We always try to make things harder than they actually are. The ladder is a symbol of the path to enlightenment.
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One of the subjects we all seem to agree upon is the need for justice. Problem is that everyone has a different view of what they think justice means. Whatever moral principal each of us believes is what we call justice. We have social justice warriors today who advocate justice with great passion, but they have no definition. All justice is social. Even Socrates stated….
“justice if only we knew what it was”.
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Before I share a brand new video with you, I want to provide a reminder that today — Monday, December 21st— is the last day to register for Foraging Wild Mushrooms. After today, registration will be closed for the season.
If you want to learn the skills involved in safely and successfully harvesting wild mushrooms with confidence, Foraging Wild Mushrooms can help you achieve that goal.
And now onto this week’s brand new video.
The declining temperatures, sunlight, and vitamin D levels have all ushered in the official arrival of winter — a season in which humans enjoy bringing trees indoors.
But not just any tree, of course. Conifer trees — and more specifically pines, spruces, and firs — are among the most harvested and celebrated trees during the holiday season.
Some of these trees are soft and flexible (e.g., white pine). Others are lush and aromatic (e.g., balsam fir). All of them, it goes without saying, are perpetually green.
But there is one conifer tree that has never made the cut, and chances are good that, if you do consider yourself an arboreal celebrant of the holiday season, you’ve never invited this particular tree into your home.
In fact, out of all the trees discussed so far, this one would certainly be labeled “The Worst Christmas Tree.”
During a recent walk through a conifer landscape, I encountered this special tree and decided to film a video in which I attempted to answer several pertinent questions.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out the brand new video!
Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!
By Amy Forsberg
Last week we looked at some of the beverages important to a Trinidad Christmas. Now let’s talk about some of the foods and the special ingredients needed to make them.
So what is on the menu in Trinidad for Christmas? Here is what Ann told me. “Dinner is ham, of course, pastelles, baked chicken, fried rice, pelau, callaloo, macaroni pie…and everybody makes homemade bread. And, of course, sorrel drink and ponché de crème. And you have to have black cake, of course….Everything is homemade, nobody buys anything.”
Pastelles are the West Indian version of tamales and reflect the Mexican/Aztec heritage in the Caribbean. Making pastelles can be labor intensive, and according to Ann, many families make the work fun by turning it into a party and making large quantities assembly-line style. This is part of what makes them such a Christmas treat. Every island has their own…
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Can you feel the energy building?
It’s been building through this month, having increased in momentum after the new moon solar eclipse on the 14th.
Whether you’re in the northern or southern hemisphere a climax will be reached on the solstice: the darkest night or the longest day. A transition point. Cycles and patterns beginning and ending.
Cultures and faiths the world over have been celebrating this day since ancient times. And while you can apply any practices or notions, ceremonies or beliefs, based on where you come from and what you espouse, if you tune in to the energy and observe nature, there’s no denying the power of this day.
According to many ancient calendars the solstice was observed on the 25th day of December, and it marked the new year.
In the north, it marked the turning point where the sun, in its weakest phase, would be reborn and slowly begin to wax again. It heralded the promising return of light, life, and warmth.
In the south, it marked the height of the sun’s power and the zenith of life force – a time of magic and ceremony – before its power begins to wane.
While in times past I’ve looked forward to my solstice ceremonies and traditions with excitement, this year I feel more contemplative. I’m reflecting on what we’ve been through, and on all those who did not make it through 2020. I’m also reflecting on how we all responded – it was a mix of intense extremes.
While there are those who profited, I see this largely as a year of loss. But loss, in and of itself, is also a healing and growth process.
This is something the ancients have always understood: it’s all a part of the cycle of life.
Loss is an ending but also a beginning. It’s up to us to find what can be gained from losing.
Read original article at: Krista Mitchell ~ Crystal Healing for the Solstice
Plants are our medicine, our teachers, our friends, and help us connect deeply to spirit in a wide variety of ways including through spiritual work. Long before recorded history, our ancient ancestors used plants of all kinds. Ötzi, the ancient ancestor who was preserved in ice and who lived between 3400 and 3100 BCE, was found with multiple kinds of plants and mushrooms, including birch polypore (a medicinal mushroom) and the tinder fungus, a mushroom often used for transporting coals starting fires. I love plants, and I love the ancestral connections and assistance that they can provide. In more recent history, we can look to a variety of cultures that use plants in ways that help alter or expand consciousness.
What better time to do some deep visionary work than at the winter solstice, when the world is plunged in darkness? It is in these dark times that we…
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The winter mushroom season is almost upon us, and at the request of those eager to pursue educational opportunities during the winter months, I’ve decided to open the doors to Foraging Wild Mushrooms for the next 7 days.
This 4-season online course is designed to help you safely, successfully, and confidently forage wild mushrooms from the forest, from the field, and even from your own backyard.
Whether you’re interested in foraging for food, for medicine, for study, or just for fun, Foraging Wild Mushrooms covers the most important lessons to get you started.
In addition to over 70 step-by-step exclusive and instructional videos included within the course, you’ll also receive:
- Supplemental handouts covering mushroom anatomy, terminology, and biology that you can download and print for easy viewing.
- A 42-page guide to medicinal mushrooms that summarizes the latest research on the most popular medicinal fungi with over 75 peer-reviewed references.
- Immediate and lifetime access to all materials.
Additionally, a portion of all proceeds derived from course sales will be donated to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy — a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to protect and restore exceptional places and forests for the benefit of present and future generations.
Since 1932, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has protected more than a quarter-million acres of natural places. To express gratitude, and to ensure that these and many more wild places exist for generations to come, I find it imperative to support organizations that in turn directly support the land.
Therefore, a portion of all proceeds derived from this enrollment period will be donated to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy for use in land conservation.
Please note that enrollment for Foraging Wild Mushrooms is open for one week only — from today until Monday, December 21st. After that, enrollment will be closed for the season.
To learn more about the course, check out this video which gives an overview of what you can expect.
Thanks for your continued support, and I hope to see you in there!