Cultivating Woodland Herbs: Planning a Medicinal Forest Garden

Written by Meghan Gemma with Juliet Blankespoor
Photography by Juliet Blankespoor (except where credited) with Contributions from Steven Foster

If asked to imagine a garden, I’d bet that most of us would call to mind a sunny patch interplanted with some array of food, flowers, and herbs—the traditional household and homestead arrangement. Yet Indigenous peoples around the world have long understood that any ecosystem can be gently tended as a garden. For those of us fortunate enough to live near forests, the woodland—with its watery seeps, shady hollows, and part-sun edges—presents us with a fertile opportunity to grow a bounty of food and medicine.

Forests, by their own right and design, tend to be inherently rich in medicine—from groundcover plants and understory herbs to overstory canopy trees. Ginseng (Panax ginseng, P. quinquefolius), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), and elderberry (Sambucus nigraS. canadensis) are just a few of the herbs that can be cultivated within the forest and on its edge.

Woodland cultivation is a way for us to nurture new plant communities as many of our wild forests are being logged, poached, paved, grazed, and otherwise fragmented. By growing woodland herbs, we might add precious medicines to our home apothecaries, but we’re also in service to wild plants—especially those that have been overharvested to supply domestic and foreign markets. Cultivated forest herbs are a sustainable and ethical way for us to both increase woodland diversity and partake of medicines that are otherwise increasingly rare.

Read complete article at: Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine ~ Cultivating Woodland Herbs, Planning a Medicinal Forest Garden

Baneful Herbs in Magical Practice | Coby Michael Ward

Good Witches Homestead

Using Baneful Herbs in Magic

With their infamous reputations and prominent place in myth and folklore, the Baneful herbs begin to seem more like mischievous magical creatures appearing throughout history in folktales and first-hand accounts.  They are powerful in their chemistry and in their occult power, but they are still plants.  The deadly nightshade grows in the same soil as the mint and the lavender.  They get light and water from the same sky.  It is important to remember this when incorporating baneful plant spirits into your magical practice.  People often ask how these herbs can benefit one magically, and how to use them.  The answer is, that they all have their own unique powers and applications, and other than ingesting, they can be used magically like any other herb.

In magic, herbs, woods and/or resins are used in pretty much everything.  They can be incorporated into spells in so…

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Roselle Hibiscus– An Herb with Many Names — Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Originally posted on The Herb Society of America Blog: By Maryann Readal With its bright red calyces, green leaves, and okra-like flowers, Hibiscus sabdariffa, also known as red zinger, red sorrel, sour tea, Florida cranberry, and roselle, makes an unusual and striking accent plant in the garden. On a recent trip to Montreal, I was…

via Roselle Hibiscus– An Herb with Many Names — Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

How to Make Herbal Dream Pillows

Good Witches Homestead

In the modern world, it can be challenging to get a good night’s rest. Keeping a healthy daytime lifestyle as well as a calming nighttime ritual are excellent ways to prepare the body for restful sleep filled with exciting and inspiring dreams! There are even traditions in which herbs are used during sleep, not only to bring about peaceful snoozing, but also to create vivid, lucid dreaming landscapes sure to bring happiness, rather than grogginess, to your waking state.

The practice of placing herbs under one’s pillow dates back centuries and was originally thought to protect against evil, bring good dreams, calm bad dreams, foresee the future, or even conjure a lover into one’s life! No matter the reason, herbal pillows are an easy way to help promote peaceful sleep and encourage dreaming. These pillows are simple to prepare and make a wonderful “crafternoon” with your friends or family. The first step is to…

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Ancestral Herbalism and Samhain: Working Deeply with Rosemary

The Druid's Garden

Rosemary from the Plant Spirit Oracle Rosemary Card from the Plant Spirit Oracle

As we quickly approach Samhain, it is a useful practice to spend some time with rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and build here into your Samhain practices. In this post, we look into some of the magic and medicine of Rosemary, and I share a number of ancestor and Samhain-focused practices that you can use with Rosemary.

An Ancestral Ally of Humans: History, Medicine, Magic

Before we get into what you can make or do with rosemary, let’s spend some time exploring and understanding this ancient herb. Rosemary has been with humanity almost as long as we have written records. Native to the mediterranean region, rosemary was first found referenced on cuineform tablets from Ancient Egypt that are from 5000 BCE–thus, humanity has at least an 8000 year old relationship with this herb (but I suspect it is much longer than our written history!)…

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DIY Decongestant Rub

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Use this DIY decongestant rub to drive away persistent coughs.

I’m not going to lie, I actually love the smell of Vicks vapor rub, but in the aim of having a DIY home, I had to give this a go myself and it really does work. The other beauty here is that when you put Vicks under your nose, it kind of burns; this does not! It’s also great for headaches – just put a little on your temples and where the pain is on your forehead.

Yield: makes 150g

Ingredients

  • 150g coconut oil
  • 4 sprigs each of oregano, sage, thyme, and basil, ripped into pieces
  • 15 drops of thyme essential oil
  • 15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
  • 15 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops of lemon essential oil

Instructions

Gently heat the coconut oil and all of the herbs in a double boiler until the oil begins to…

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How to Boost Your Immune System with Herbs

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

The coming cold and flu season is only one of the hundreds of reasons that immune function should always be at the top of your list of health priorities. The immune system doesn’t just keep sniffles away—it also is the body’s best defense against potentially deadly diseases, such as H1N1 flu, and well-known killers, such as cancer. Your daily habits, including the foods you eat and your exercise and sleep routines, have a significant effect on your immune function. And even if your lifestyle choices are exemplary, environmental toxins, emotional stress, and the wear and tear of aging all conspire to weaken immunity.

How to Protect Your Immune System

The most complex system of the body, the immune system includes the thymus gland, the spleen, bone marrow and a vast network of lymph nodes that are scattered throughout the body. The immune system also maintains a variety of white blood…

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Remembrance Potpourri

Good Witches Homestead

Memories of those we have loved and lost are always with us. With time, hopefully, we smile instead of cry when a particularly poignant memory is triggered. And sometimes we intentionally evoke memories with special objects that remind us of those who have passed on to the Summerland. This special remembrance potpourri is one such object. Made from dried flowers from the funeral of a loved one, as well as special herbs and flowers that have ages-old connections to death, bereavement, and funerals, it serves to help one not only remember the deceased but also to honor their life and hopefully ease the grief that comes with such loss.

This project came about as a special way to honor my father. As is often the case, there were plenty of beautiful flower arrangements present at the funeral, including those from us — his immediate family. In some families, like mine…

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October Herb of the Month, Safflower

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Safflower, Carthamus tinctorius

Did You Know?

• Safflower produces a thistle-like flower ranging in color from yellow to dark red.
• It is one of the oldest cultivated plants, originally grown to use the flowers as coloring agents for food,
cosmetics, and textiles.
• Safflower garlands were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb (around 1323 BCE).
• The pigment from the flower petals is known as carthamin and was used to dye Egyptian textiles dating back to the 12th dynasty.
• As a food additive, carthamin is known as Natural Red 26.
• The flower petals have been substituted for saffron since they do produce a similar color and flavor.
• Commercial production of safflower is primarily for oil pressed from the seeds. By-products of this process create livestock meal and are used in making soap.
• A small amount of commercially grown safflower is for birdseed.
• There are two types of safflower…

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Samhain in the Devil’s Garden | Coby Michael Ward

Good Witches Homestead

All Hallows Eve is quickly approaching.  The darkness is creeping closer every day.  You can feel the cold grip of the coming winter slithering its way back up from its yearly resting place deep in the Underworld.  The excitement and anticipation on both sides of the veil are tangible.  It is during this time of year that most witches are at their witchiest, reveling in the sensory delights of the coming holiday.  For me, Samhain/Halloween (because I celebrate both) is an entire season, not just one day.  It begins at the autumnal equinox when the scales begin to tip in darkness’ favor.  Then there is the October full moon known as the Hunter’s Moon or Blood Moon.  I look at Samhain October 31st as the culmination of this strange energy that has been building which bleeds into November.  The Sun hangs low in the sky, crows can be heard cawing…

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