As we continue to explore the concept of wildcrafting druidry and sacred action that is, developing a spiritual practice and daily life that is fully localized and aligned with nature right outside your door, it is a useful time to consider the role of herbalism and developing a local materia medica. In herbalism terms, a materia medica is a body of herbal and plant knowledge for the curing of diseases and the promotion of good health. For example, any book on herbalism that includes entries on herbs and their healing properties is a materia medica. By starting to develop a local materia medica for your area, you can learn more about the incredible healing properties of plants in your area and develop a sacred connection with them. You can start entering into a mutually beneficial, reciprocal relationship with the land and support your own health–this is because not only are…
Poison hemlock gets an incredibly bad rap these days.
It’s weedy. It’s aggressive. And it’s lethally toxic.
Here in the United States, poison hemlock grows in almost every single state. Because many of us will inevitably encounter a naturalized population of poison hemlock, it’s important that we learn its key features and its effects on the human body.
The trend these days is to write scathing articles about poison hemlock where personal feelings eclipse objective information. Today, however, I’ll offer something different.
In a new video, I don’t get too angry talking about poison hemlock, but I instead try to remain fairly neutral when discussing its attributes.
Last year, I stumbled upon a pileated woodpecker nest for the first time. Exactly one year later, I encountered a second site in a different location. To read about my recent experience, and to view more photographs of the nest, check out the latest Instagram post!Click to view post
Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!
I remember when I first saw a Tamarack tree. It was growing in a bog where I was hiking in late fall. I looked at the Tamarack tree in its golden splendor and wondered if the tree was sick or had gotten too wet–was this confier dying? It had knobby cones and branches, sitting there looking like it was in its death throes. When I commented on it to my friend, she responded, No, that’s just the tamarack tree, a friend of mine said, and we examined the tree growing on the edge of a beautiful wetland. Sure enough, a few weeks later, the tree was bare for the winter and only grew back in the spring. The Tamarack tree has a special place in the ecology in North America, especially as a mid-succession tree in very wet and swampy areas.
One of the most majestic experiences you can have with trees is being surrounded by old-growth Tulip Poplar trees. Tulips grow extraordinarily tall and straight, with thick gray trunks and spreading roots. You feel like you are in a cathedral, standing under these magnificent trees. The tulip trees get their name both from the leaves–which are shaped like a tulip and from their flowers–beautiful, large, showy orange and yellow flowers that look just like a tulip. You can find these trees easily in June as the showy tulip leaves begin to drop to the forest floor. They are also easy to spot in the winter–you can look up and see the remains of the tulip flowers, gone to seed, throughout the winter months–they look like little cups reaching up to the heavens, a beautiful sight.
We have one such grove of tulip trees in a local park near here–a local…
With the advent of Beltane, it is an excellent time to share about the magic and sacredness of the dogwood tree–a tree that is in bloom across the landscape this time of year. I feel like dogwood is one of those trees that everyone knows, but nobody takes the time to know well. In all of my time in the druid community, when people talk about their favorite trees, I don’t think I’ve ever heard dogwood mentioned. She’s a quiet and unassuming understory tree, and after her spring show of white or pink bracts and yellowish tiny flowers, she fades into the rest of the forest. And yet, in studying her medicine and ecology, we can gain so much from this wonderful tree.
Dogwood is a popular tree here in North America, both as a native tree found in the understories and edges of Oak-Hickory forests throughout its wide range…
You have probably heard that St. John’s wort oil is incredible for muscle aches and pains, but did you know that rosemary-infused oil can also work wonders? Not everyone has access to fresh St. John’s wort when it’s flowering at just the right stage for making oil, but most people have access to rosemary. Even if you don’t grow it, you can find it in the spice or produce aisle at your local grocer. It won’t turn the oil that brilliant red color, but it will be effective! Let’s talk about how to make a rosemary oil that can really work.
To make your rosemary oil, you’ll want to first dry your rosemary. Strip the leaves from the stems and lay them out on a drying rack or towel-lined cookie sheet. Allow them to air dry until they feel brittle and will break easily when you try to bend them…
Adaptogens are herbs that help us adapt to changes and stress caused by physical, biological, emotional, and environmental factors. They can assist in restoring balance within the body and help us defend against both chronic and acute stressors.
One of my favorite adaptogens is astragalus.
Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus)
Astragalus is an adaptogenic herb often used in Chinese medicine. It is calming to the Central Nervous System (CNS) and has antimicrobial properties. Astragalus helps support respiratory functions making it useful in times of infection and useful for allergies and asthma. This herb thought to boost the immune system, increase energy, and address fatigue associated with chemotherapy and chronic illness.
Due to it’s antibacterial and antiviral properties, along with its immune-boosting capabilities it may be useful in preventing and decreasing the severity of common colds and respiratory infections. Astragalus may also be used with herbs such…
Looking for a career in the burgeoning and rewarding field of herbs? Start by finding the right educational program to suit your individual needs and goals. By some estimates, 70 percent of Americans are not fully satisfied with their current jobs, and this lack of contentment impacts not only the workplace but also our personal […]
If you’re looking for an herb to soothe and repair digestive issues, the cheery flowers of calendula (Calendula officinalis) will be one of your primary allies. Calendula tea is commonly used to help remedy peptic ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It supports the healing of gastric and intestinal inflammation from infection or irritation through its vulnerary (wound healing), anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial actions.
Calendula can be combined with licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), slippery elm (Ulmus rubra), marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis), and meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) as a natural remedy for GERD, which commonly affects people with the symptoms of heartburn. In the case of peptic ulcers, calendula can be taken concurrently with antibiotic therapy (to address the presence of the bacterial infection of H. pylori or Helicobacter pylori), and then continued for two weeks after finishing treatment. See the notes below for important contraindications.
Safety and Contraindications: Do not use calendula internally during pregnancy since it has traditionally been used to bring on menses. As calendula is in the aster family, it may cause a reaction for people who are highly sensitive to plants like ragweed (Ambrosia spp.) and chamomile (Matricaria recutita); this possibility is rare, but sensitive individuals should proceed with caution when using calendula for the first time. Rare incidences of allergic contact dermatitis have occurred with the topical use of calendula.