I am an Integrative CranioSacral therapist, Earth Medicine practitioner, and ceremonial herbalist, specializing in integrative mind-body therapies, and I work and teach at the Holistic Center in Tupelo, MS.
Bugleweed (Lycopus virginicus) is called by many names, including water horehound, Paul’s betony, green archangel, bitter bugleweed, Egyptian’s herb, March boneset, gypsyweed, and my personal favorite: green wolf’s foot.
I first learned about bugleweed from Darrell Martin of Blue Boy Herbs in Carierre, MS. He uses bugleweed in four of his tincture blends: lung tonic, diabetes (with Fringe Tree), nervine, and heart tonic blends. You can see Darrell’s offerings here: Blue Boy Herbs.
Darryl Patton states in his book, Mountain Medicine: The Herbal Remedies of Tommie Bass, that Bugleweed is traditionally used to treat lung issues (coughs, colds, bronchitis) and nerve issues (sedative). He also says that Tommie would sometimes substitute bugleweed for boneset, and he often added it to his nerve tonics. Darryl’s book can be purchased by contacting him directly. His website is The Southern Herbalist.
In The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants, Matthew Wood suggests specific indications for the use of bugleweed. One indication that I found particularly interesting is when a person feels like “a hunted animal”, with the pulse “rapid and tumultuous”. He also suggests bugleweed for people who are unable to sleep at night, with “wide, open, staring eyes”. <– I’ve been there. You can read much more about bugleweed and specific indications by purchasing Matthew’s book; he also has a companion book, The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. Check out his new online classes at Matthew Wood Institute of Herbalism.
Other information I have found online (check out resources below) validate its use for cardiovascular issues, hyperthyroidism (such as Grave’s disease), high blood sugar, anxiety and other nervous system issues, lung conditions, and breast pain (mastodynia, or cyclic mastalgia).
Cardiovascular issues: Bugleweed is said to “increase contractions of the heart and arteries”, and strengthen the heart. I am interested in blending a heart tonic with bugleweed, motherwort, rose, hawthorn (berries, leaves and flowers) and possibly tulsi.
Hyperthyroidism: It seems bugleweed can calm an overactive thyroid; it is especially useful for symptoms such as heart palpitations and tightness of breath. Thomas Easley combines it with lemon balm and motherwort for treating Grave’s disease. I am not telling you to self-treat for hyperthyroidism. Please do your own research and talk to your doctor… be extra careful if you are already taking thyroid medication.
Diabetes: I am interested in bugleweed’s use in controlling diabetes. I have a family history of insulin resistance and high blood sugar, so I am exploring combinations of plant medicine to help support my system along with diet and exercise. Some herbs (and spices) that have my attention along with bugleweed are blueberry leaf, berberis, wild cherry, fringe tree, cinnamon, and burdock root (for inulin… elecampane also contains inulin). I have heard interesting things about holy basil (Tulsi) for high blood sugar; I have also read that self-heal (Prunella) increases insulin sensitivity, so it’s high on my list to explore further.
Nervine: Nervines are my all time favorite plant allies, and bugleweed is said to be a great one. It is considered a gentle nervine, and according to Darryl Patton, Tommie Bass said it was for nerves that had been “stretched too far”. I have seen in some texts and online that bugleweed is also classified as “narcotic”, but I have not read why or how it is used as a narcotic.
Lung issues: Because of its astringency, bugleweed is great for reducing mucous production, and I also read that it helps reduce fever, so it is often used in cough and cold blends in the place of boneset (or late blooming thoroughwort). I am curious about blending bugleweed with mullein and mountain mint for coughs and colds, maybe with some wild cherry bark for spasmy coughs. I would think that rabbit tobacco’s drying action would also be beneficial if one had too much mucous in the system.
Mastodynia: Mastodynia is breast pain; many women experience mastodynia because of high prolactin levels, especially during breastfeeding. Bugleweed may reduce prolactin levels. I encourage caution if breastfeeding; lowering prolactin levels affects milk production. Cyclic mastalgia is breast pain due to hormonal cycles (increased estrogen, I believe), and while bugleweed is often used to treat this painful condition, chastetree (Vitex) is said to be a better choice.
This particular plant was purchased from Joe Hollis at Mountain Gardens, and I am thrilled to introduce it to my property. I do not have a nice, moist spot for it, so I am going to create one. I hear that bugleweed and skullcap like to live together, so I am going to devote a large pot on my front porch to them. We’ll see how they like it.
As I shared recently, I experienced a wonderful healing session with three amazing therapy horses in Moscow, TN, and I asked Jennifer and Shilo to share some interview time with me so that you could learn a bit more about equine therapy and the services they offer our community.
Jennifer and Shilo, I am so thrilled to have spent time with you and your horses. My session was so powerful and relevant, especially after I took the time to process my experience. What kinds of feedback do you get from clients who experience these sessions?
We are so happy you had such a positive and lasting experience. And you’re right! The processing continues well after the session ends. A lot of the feedback we have received has been similar to what you describe. In the moment, working and being with the horses, certain shifts or insights happen, but the processing that occurs after the session always seems to be the most powerful. We have had several people tell us several days to several weeks after their time with the horses that it had lasting impact and they are still continuing to chew on the experience. That being said, the most common feedback we get is about the horses, how the horses in their constant presence and ability to hold space, really made a connection with them, even if it was only for the duration of the session or for just a few moments of the session. Even after the session has ended, the connection with the horses seems to remain present.
What does Equine Therapy mean? What does it NOT mean?
By definition, equine therapy is a type of animal-assisted therapy, which means an animal is included into the therapeutic process to enhance the therapeutic relationship and progress toward treatment goals. Equine therapy does not mean that we conduct a therapy session and a horse (or horses) just happen(s) to be present at the same time. In equine therapy, the horse(s) become(s) part of the treatment team. We consider the horses to be our partners, providing us with information about emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and patterns in our clients that we can use to help deepen the therapeutic process. The horses are not a tool in the approach we use. They are collaborators and they have needs and things to say and express about how they work with our clients. And we listen to them and use their feedback.
I believe it was renowned animal-assisted therapist Rise van Fleet who stated that adding an animal into the therapy process should not be the reason you feel comfortable working with a specific client issue or diagnosis. In fact, if we do not feel comfortable working with a specific presenting issue in a traditional therapy setting, we would not work on that issue in the presence of the horses. Integrating a horse into the therapy process does not automatically mean anyone or anything can be treated, and we have to consider our limitations and scope of practice as professionals.
What do clients usually come to the horses to resolve or to explore? (trust issues, relationships, fears, etc.)
Well, that’s a big question that is going to get a big response, though we will try to make it as succinct as possible. Research in the field of equine therapy has shown equine therapy is helpful for a variety of mental health diagnoses and presenting issues. Briefly, it has been used successfully in treating trauma and PTSD, depression, anxiety, and mood disorders, grief and loss, relationship and attachment issues, behavioral and conduct problems, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, addictions, and communication problems. Equine therapy is flexible and can be used in group, individual, or family therapy modalities and can also be applied to many existing counseling theories, like CBT, REBT, ACT, person-centered therapies, and even some alcohol and drug treatment models.
On a more personal level, and moving away from diagnoses, equine therapy can quickly tap into deeper, underlying issues that sustain or create some of the aforementioned disorders. We have seen people come to a session wanting to work on procrastination, self-esteem and self-worth, depression, behavioral problems, and anxiety—and it is amazing how quickly deeper core beliefs and patterns of functioning are brought to the surface through the interactions with the horses. We have also seen equine therapy experiences tap into and further spiritual and personal growth and development.
I remember when I came for a visit, you shared that you have created a day-long “retreat for therapists”. That sounds fantastic. What would that look like?
Oftentimes the healers in our world are ignored. And, a lot of healers put their own needs on the backburner and focus their time, energy, and attention on helping others. We feel strongly that you cannot pour from an empty glass, so our retreat focuses on helping those in the helping professions reconnect with their purpose and passion while also giving them an opportunity to rest and restore. We incorporate time with the horses, yoga, meditation, and art to provide the space for healers to rebalance.
Another thing we have been to do as well is host some informational groups where we invite local mental health providers, such as counselors, social workers, and school counselors, out to learn about equine therapy, how it works, what it can treat, and how to make referrals to our practice. Part of the information group is getting to experience an equine-assisted learning group so the practitioners that attend can experience the magic and power of working with the horses and have an opportunity to see what their clients may be able to experience.
Are people allowed to ride your horses, or is therapy only from interaction on the ground?
There are equine therapy programs and models that allow clients to ride in order to receive a variety of physical, emotional, and psychological benefits. However, all of our therapeutic work with the horses is on the ground. By having the client work with the horses on the ground, a relationship has to be established in a way the horses understand. Ground work and interactions place the client on the horses’ level. It also gives the horses freedom of choice, just as we would want any person to have. Ground work with horses creates plenty of opportunity for learning new ways to interact, gain insight toward modifying existing patterns of interacting that may not be very productive or useful, and allows for more opportunities for mirroring, reflection, projection, and experiential processing.
I was thrilled to find out how close you were to North Mississippi; it takes me about an hour and a half to get to you from Tupelo, MS, so I consider my area part of your “community”. I imagine that you are fairly close to Memphis, Nashville, and Jackson, as well as North MS. Considering you work with a fairly wide community, how would you like to expand your programs to meet the needs of this area?
We would love to be the go-to people for providing equine therapy services to the community at large. Oftentimes, a lot of programs are part of organizations that specifically address unique populations, such as veterans and children with disabilities. And while these programs are so incredibly important to capturing populations that need help, it unfortunately does not leave a lot of room for people who do not fit into those specific populations. We hope that by remaining a private entity we will be able to provide services to people in the community who want to have the experience or feel that equine therapy may help them or someone they love personally achieve goals. To do this we work hard to establish relationships with local providers and try to raise awareness of the benefits of equine therapy as well as how to refer to or contact us. One of our goals for 2017 is to develop more specifically targeted group equine therapy options so that clients can experience equine therapy.
Do your clients ride or groom and care for your horses, or do they only have a session inside the arena?
The approach we use and were trained in, EAGALA, uses only ground work with the horses. So, in short, there is no riding. However, we work very collaboratively with anyone who wants to engage in our equine therapy services to ensure that the interactions with the horses and the activities or tasks will work toward achieving established goals and addressing identified issues. This may mean that grooming and caring for the horses becomes an integral part of the process, or that sessions can occur in one of the three pastures or in the barn as well as the arena. But it depends on who we are working with and what he or she is wanting to accomplish or address.
Do you schedule post EAP sessions with your clients to assist them in processing their experiences?
Yes and no. There is usually a follow-up conversation a few days following the session in some way, shape, or form. But not all our clients want traditional talk therapy between sessions or even a conversation. Plus, sometimes we have found that giving people space to be with themselves and their process is the best intervention we can provide. Unless we have concerns and want to touch base between sessions or think that would be best for the treatment plan, we usually let our clients make that decision for themselves. Of course, some of our clients see primary therapists in addition to the equine therapy, so processing may occur within the context of those therapy sessions.
How could a licensed therapist collaborate with you in order to make this powerful therapy available to their clients?
Equine therapy is a great supplemental therapy that has been proven to enhance ongoing therapeutic work and helps clients move through potential blocks they may be encountering in therapy currently. We have invited referring therapists to come out for their clients’ sessions if the client and their primary therapist believe it would be helpful to their therapeutic process and their relationship. If someone wants to refer a client, of course they can very easily just have their client contact us whenever they feel the time is right. However, if the therapist wants to discuss their client more specifically and how the services may be beneficial, we would request a signed authorization to release information so that specifics could be discussed.
Jennifer A. Drabowicz, M.S., LPC-MHSP, ACS, EAGALA Certified Practitioner, Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy Provider
I spent the most amazing afternoon with these three beautiful horses in an equine-assisted psychotherapy session.
Jennifer Drabowicz and Shilo Satran have an equine-assisted psychotherapy practice in Moscow, Tennessee; and Jennifer’s three horses, Sam, Red, and Blaze, were powerful mirrors for me when we were in session together.
We began our session with a little “get to know you” time. I walked around the arena with the horses, and we spent a few minutes getting to know each other. Next, Shilo and Jennifer asked me what I wanted to work on. When my intention was set, the session began. (and Boris decided I needed some Cat Medicine in my session)
EAP is not structured like a normal therapy session; it is freeform in style, but this approach is a powerful catalyst for bringing up emotions. Horses can interact directly with the participant, or they can simply “display normal horse behavior”, and the participant can receive insightful messages. This was very true for me as I interacted with the horses, and I found myself thoughtfully observing their behaviors and noticing how they were beautifully acting out my inner struggles and conflicts.
Horses require us to be fully in the present moment when we are interacting with them. They are intelligent, highly sensitive animals, and they know when we are “congruent” or authentic with them. If our external presence doesn’t match our internal presence, horses will mirror that incongruence.
I experienced several powerful moments with these horses, but one moment was confusing for me until several weeks after my session. Two horses spent most of the session interacting with each other, and they were engaged in the same behavior most of the time. In the picture above, I was holding my hands together in a prayer position and watching for the message they were offering me. I had just completed an initiation experience with another horse, and I had been noticing these two “chewing at each other” the entire time. I couldn’t figure out what that meant as I tried to apply it to my process. After several weeks of integration time, the message became clear to me. I also noticed several other therapy moments click into place and make more sense.
I am very grateful to these horses, to Jennifer, to Shilo and to Mr. Boris the barn cat, for my powerful, insightful therapy session. Jennifer’s website is listed below, and she can be reached that way if you would like to schedule your own session.
I am so thrilled and delighted to bring Earth Medicine to you once again! This deep, experiential work is designed to help you develop right relationship with your own unique spirit support so that you can develop a courageous heart and live your life in a good way.
Since 2014, Bear Medicine has been guiding us as we carry our medicine. Bear has been my ally since 2006, and I have been so honored to work with this powerful spirit. She has taught me so much about myself and about how I show up in the world, and I am so grateful for her medicine and her continued support. However, she has stepped back to allow Horse to come through. This has been an emotional and powerful process for me, and I hope to bring honor to the medicine of Horse as we move into this new cycle of Earth Medicine.
Here are some additions that Horse is bringing to our Earth Medicine Intensive:
This class will be 1 year in length instead of 6 months. Each six month cycle is a stand alone intensive, and has a separate registration. When you register for Earth Medicine, you are registering for a 6-month cycle.
Our first two months is devoted to making sure you know all of the ins and outs of journey work. We will look at different plant, stone, and animal relatives, and we explore ways to cultivate right relationship with our allies.
Also get ready to learn all about Earth Medicine energy work! This is a style of shamanic Reiki that my allies and I developed over a period of years, and they have finally given me the go ahead to begin sharing it. I am so excited about this. You will be the absolute first people to learn this specific style of energy work, and I am so honored to bring it to you.
Through this intensive, we will be developing an intentional medicine community. Our journey experiences will bring healing to our community, and we will have a main collective altar that my ancestors and I will tend over the next 12 months. You will create altar spaces as well, and we will intentionally connect them so that they all link together and with our collective altar. This altar space will provide support, healing and wisdom for each of us during this sacred time together.
Are you ready to join us? We begin on December 1, 2016!
If the link above doesn’t work properly for you, send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. I can accept registration a different way if you live outside the US or if the online shop doesn’t work for you.
I have loved this for a long, long time, and I wanted to share this beautiful Thanksgiving Address with you. Let’s go back to honoring prayers, to gratitude prayers for all beings, plant, tree, stone, animal and earth. May we treat them more gently. May we begin to consider many generations forward in all that we do. Sending you all big love as you give thanks in your own way.
THE “WORDS BEFORE ALL ELSE”
—from the Thanksgiving Address, Haudenosaunee tradition
Today we have gathered and have come from many different places. We have all arrived safely at this place to share with each other our gifts from the Creator. So we bring our minds together as one in Thanksgiving and Greetings to one another.
We send greetings and thanksgiving to our Mother the Earth who, like our own mother, continues to give for our well-being. She continues to care for us and has not forgotten her instructions from the beginning of time. We now bring our minds together in Thanksgiving for the Earth.
Now, as one mind, we turn our thoughts to the Waters of the Earth, that continue to flow beneath the ground, in little streams and in rivers, in lakes and wetlands, and in the great seas. They quench our thirst and help us to keep clean. We now bring our minds together in Thanksgiving to all the Waters of the Earth.
With one mind, we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to all the Beings that dwell in the Water which provide for us in many ways.
Now we direct our thoughts to the many kinds of plants that live low upon the Earth—the mosses, the grasses, the herbs, the food plants and the flowers, for they too have not forgotten their Original Instructions. There are many members of this Nation who sustain those who walk upon this Earth and take away the sicknesses of the human family. With one mind we send our thoughts and Thanksgiving to the Plant Nations.
We now gather our minds together and send Greetings and Thanksgiving to all the Animal Life in the world, for they continue to instruct and teach us even today. We are happy that many still walk with us although their natural world has been changed and life has become very difficult for them at times. Sometimes we may see a fox or a deer eye to eye and we are reminded of that feeling of kinship we get when we see the animals. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving to all the Animal Life in the world.
With one mind we now think of the Trees. According to their Original Instructions the Trees still give us shelter, warmth and food, and keep the air clean. When we see the trees we are reminded of the beauty and power of the natural world. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving to all the members of the Tree Nation.
We now bring our minds together to send our Greetings of Thanksgiving to the Birds. At the beginning of time the Birds were given a very special duty to perform. They were instructed to help lift the minds of the Human Family. Many times during the day our minds are lifted by their songs. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving to all the Birds of the world.
We are thankful to the Four Winds who continue to blow and cleanse the air in accordance with their Original Instructions. When we listen to the Winds it is as if we are hearing the Creator’s breath, clearing our minds as it blows through the Trees. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving to the Four Winds.
Now we turn our attention to the Thunderbeings. They welcome the springtime with their loud voices. Along with the lightning, they carry the waters of Spring on their backs. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to the Thunderbeings.
Our minds are one as we send our thoughts to our oldest brother the Sun. Each day the Sun continues according to his original instructions, bringing the light of the day, the energy source of all life on Earth. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to our oldest brother the Sun.
We now gather our minds together and give Thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon who holds hands with all of the women of the world, binding all of the cycles and rhythms of the Waters. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to our Grandmother the Moon.
With one mind we send our thoughts to the Star Nations who continue to light our way during times of darkness to guide us home, and who hold the secrets of many forgotten stories. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to the Star Nations.
With our minds as one mind we think of the Four Spirit Beings who live in the Four Directions. We know that they are helping us when we are moving through life and a feeling tells us not to go a certain way, or that we are on the right path. And now we gather our minds together as one and send our special Thanksgiving Greetings to the Four Spirit Beings.
Now we have arrived in a very special place where dwells the Great Spirit that moves through all things. As one mind we turn our thoughts to the Creator with Thanksgiving and Greetings.
We have now become like one being, with one body, one heart, one mind. We send our Prayers and special Thanksgiving Greetings to all the unborn Children of all the Future Generations. We send our thoughts to the many different Beings we may have missed during our Thanksgiving. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to all of the Nations of the World.
This bottle of “it’s all good” ambrosia is packed with gorgeous plants who have worked together to ease my anxiety episodes and strengthen my wonky nervous system. It is fondly referred to as my “Fukit Elixir”.
I don’t use this blend every single day. I keep it close and use it intentionally…
when I know I am going to be involved in a potentially uncomfortable situation or conversation,
when I feel the beginning stages of anxiety,
when I feel upset and overwhelmed, and I have a hard time making a decision
If you read the above and say, “That’s me all day, every day,” then I suggest you look into using herbal support along with other stress management tools, such as mindfulness, breath exercises, meditation, a grounding practice, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, yoga, etc.
I also encourage you to try new things if you can (depending on the severity of your condition). In my Earth Medicine practice, we have a daily grounding practice, an energy hygiene practice, and we use smudging, emotional clearing, gentle movement and Earth Medicine connection techniques to help with anxiety, depression, and feelings of disconnection.
Ingredients in my elixir: Equal parts of Milky Oat tops, Mimosa blooms and leaves/bark, Skullcap, Passionflower, Memommy’s Wild Roses, and Kava root in honey and vodka. I rarely have this product available for purchase; when I do, I put the link to purchase in my shop. I encourage you to make your own if you are herbally inclined. This is my personal blend, but this isn’t MINE; know what I mean?
If you are taking any sleep aids or anti anxiety medications, i.e. xanax, klonopin, citalopram, etc., talk to your doctor before you consume any herbal preparation that contains kava root (Piper methysticum). Also, you may not want to take kava while inebriated.
With any product on my website, don’t just trust my experience or my research; do your own research. I ain’t your doctor, and I am not responsible for telling you whether or not you can safely consume this delightful product.
I spent time with my Ancestors today, and I called on my allies, Rabbit Tobacco, Cedar, Yarrow, and Mugwort, to help me in ceremony.
I got called out, y’all. I’m not going to gloss it over. I will be spending quite some time with the messages I received from my Ancestors, processing it, looking at myself without my protective defenses engaged, and surrendering to a big dose of humility.
I asked for a message for my community and this is what they gave me. I love you all very deeply, and I hope this offering can be a balm for your hearts.
Message from the Ancestors:
No matter where you stood to observe the view of the election, we want you to know that what you saw and the fears that you hold have been honored and witnessed. You are never alone, and you will always have our support. However, we also want to make clear to you that elections and “who is in charge” is not important to us; you are important to us. You as a collective are who we birthed into this world, and we constantly love and support you collectively and individually as you work to become your best self and live your soul’s purpose.
We are not attempting to belittle your fears, your feelings of inequality, or your concern for environmental damage; those are very real and we understand your fears and your anger and your frustration. We also see the strength of your spirits and the ability you have to bring about change. You may see yourself as alone, but we see millions of you who have the potential to band together and be the support you need in order to live your best lives.
Here are some things we want you to have in your awareness:
Take good care of yourself. Your body, your emotions, what you expose yourself to mentally, and your connection to “that which is bigger than you” is vitally important.
In everything you think, say, or do, ask yourself if you are operating from your heart. If you are not, make a conscious adjustment.
If you are angry, we encourage you to harness the energy of that anger and use it in a productive way; in a way that is healing and brings strength to your community. Anger without healthy action is detrimental to you and to those within your influence. You are holding strong energy there; use it wisely and with love.
If you are afraid, we encourage you to take some time to connect with the earth mother and ground into your place. You belong and you are supported.
If you feel ambivalent and operate as if your voice doesn’t matter, we encourage you to shift your perspective and rise up and participate in your world. If you feel resistant to that, we encourage you to reconnect with us and with the earth and explore what is keeping you isolated. We are big enough to hold your concerns.
Love each other. Really. This is so important. We cannot help you if you do not operate from a place of love. You have experienced what it feels like to be divided. This is an opportunity to change. Take responsibility, stand up, and love each other.
We offer you this wisdom and comfort and a different, wider perspective at this time; we can see the bigger picture, and we can see opportunities for you to step into who you really are, individually, as a community, and as a nation.
You are the powerful ones, children, not the structure you are looking to for support. You are being called to take responsibility for restoring community. Who is your community? Do you have one? What are your strengths? How can you be of service? Do you have the heart of an advocate? Do you have the heart of a healer? A warrior? A Visionary? Whatever you do, you must do it from your Heart. Fear will not take you very far in your act of service, but your heart will hold you and carry your message to the most amazing lengths.
What we have to say may make you angry, and what we say may bring you a sense of hope and empowerment. No matter how you respond, know that your heart has been moved, and you are being called to step forward for yourself and for your community at this time. If this brings up more questions for you than answers, then we invite you to develop right relationship with your ancestral support so that you can receive further guidance and wisdom. We are speaking through Dana’s perception; always remember that you have direct access to spirit support. We encourage you to turn to us and develop relationship with us so that you can hear our messages.
We offer these messages to you with deep love, with full awareness of the magnificent spirits you truly are.
If you are at all familiar with Reiki, you know that it is a beautiful, gentle healing energy that, when sent to a willing recipient, goes exactly where it needs to go in order to bring balance and healing to all aspects of that person’s energy bodies.
In a normal distance healing session, the practitioner and the client determine a time to have their remote treatment; when the session begins, the practitioner sends Reiki while the client sits or rests quietly and receives the treatment. Often, the practitioner may send feedback, sharing what was noticed in the client’s energy body while the treatment was given, and the recipient will share particular experiences and insights that occurred during the session.
My sessions are a bit different.
I combine Usui Reiki with Earth Medicine energy practices in order to address specific needs of your four primary energy bodies, so that these non-physical wisdom bodies can self-correct; when you’re balanced and whole in non-physical reality, your physical reality must shift in response.
When you and I schedule time together, the first thing I will have you do is tell me what is going on in a variety of aspects of your life. What’s happening in your physical body? What emotional challenges are you experiencing? Do you have specific things going through your mind all the time? Any particular worries or concerns? Do you feel numb? Do you feel too much? Do you take on other people’s emotions/problems/energy? These are a few examples of what we may address together in order for me to have a clear picture of how we will be working together.
Next, we will schedule time to meet up on a secure web based platform called Zoom for our session. You will receive confirmation of the time, and a private link for you to meet me in my virtual treatment space. If you’ve never used Zoom before, you will be prompted to do a quick, painless download on your laptop, or an app download on your phone.
When we meet online, you and I will discuss your situation and concerns, determine what areas we will focus on, and have our healing session. If there are any emotions, insights or energetic imbalances that need to be addressed and healed, we will address them. Imbalances may include any personal power loss, scattered energy, feelings of disconnect, lost energetic protection, or unhealthy attachments. Then we will clear your energetic field, restoring your energy bodies to their natural, vibrant state.
As part of the healing treatment, you will be given exercises to cultivate a healthy, strong energy body and energy container so that you can continue to live and interact with others in a good way. Keep in mind that it’s up to you to keep your energy bodies in healthy condition. You will be given simple tools to help you do this, but it’s an ongoing practice that requires commitment in order for you to experience lasting change.
Would you like to work with me?
Here’s how to do it.
Contact me in the form below. Let me know you want to schedule a Reiki/Earth Medicine energy session with me, and I will send you the registration link and intake form so we can get started!
The LGBTQ community in Mississippi (and anywhere that my internet connection can reach) has allies at the Holistic Center in Tupelo, MS.
I have worked closely with this community for many years, and I feel that it’s past time to make my position as an ally very clear to the community that’s so close to my heart.
I am aware that making this statement may cause me to lose some clients, and I am at peace with that; but I know that I will be supported and loved, just as I support and love others, and I know that I have some amazing clients who will be very happy to read this post. I am grateful for my life; I am a married, white female, who is privileged in many ways. Last year, when I expressed a deep sadness for being so privileged when others were so not, one of my teachers said, “Dana, use that privilege. Use your privilege as a financially stable, white female to bring relief to those who are struggling. Look at your world. To whom are you in service?” I have always been an advocate for this population, as well as for women who are unsupported emotionally because of diverse spiritual practices.
A beloved family member reached out publicly recently, sharing that she felt she no longer had a family because of the way her immediate family treated her and her partner. I won’t go into details, but know that my heart was moved. Jack’s heart was moved as well, and we realized that we had not made our love for her and her partner clear. We immediately reached out to her, and we let her know that we not only accept her and her love, but we celebrate her and her love; there is no “tolerance” in this home.
There is also no “tolerance” in my practice. To me, the word tolerance has the connotation, “I don’t approve of what you’re doing, but I will be accepting of you to a point.” It also reminds me of the phrase, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” <– I have very strong opinions about that phrase as well, and I will not be using it on you or anyone else.
If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex or asexual, and you feel that you are not accepted by others, I am in service to you. If you suffer from stress, anxiety, grief, etc., consider working with me to get relief so that you can feel more whole and supported as you do your great, important work in this world.
If you are an LGBTQIA ally, truly an ally, you know what that means and what it can do to your stress levels and nervous system. Please reach out to me to get information on how you can be supported as you hold space and offer your voice on behalf of our amazing community.
If you are not familiar with my work, here are some ways that I can help support you:
If you have never worked with me before and you are dealing with stress, I suggest you begin with a Compassionate Listening session (linked above). There I provide a gentle, non judgmental space for you to begin to unpack the chaos in your life. Click the link to read more about it.
If any of these offerings interest you, or if you know of someone who needs support, send me a message below. ♡
Resources for LGBTQIA and Allies:
The Icarus Project: Radical Mental Health in a Crazy World
From the website: “The Icarus Project is a support network and education project by and for people who experience the world in ways that are often diagnosed as mental illness.”
Trauma-informed herbalist, Kirsten Hale, has an amazing website and blog where she works with survivors of trauma. The Crazy Herbalist
Herbalist Kelli Hughart uses Sycamore tree essence for people who “feel like the outside and the inside of them doesn’t match.” Personally, I wonder if Sycamore essence could also assist with conflict between “how you feel internally (emotionally) vs what you present to the world.”
Jon Keyes has a great closed Facebook group called Herbs for Mental Health. He’s an herbalist and counselor based in Oregon and he shares some amazing wisdom over there. Jon’s website is Hearthside Healing.
More resources coming as I find them for you.
At the time of this post, I am not a licensed counselor. I am working toward that goal, but I want you to be very aware that I am not in any way using counseling skills or any kind of mental therapy in my practice at this time. I have amazing colleagues to whom I can refer you if that’s what you need.
Smudge sticks or smudge wands are bundles of herbs that are traditionally burned during ceremony or for purification purposes. I also use smudge sticks and other types of incense/smudge to
Cleanse and bless homes,
Clear imprint energy in a space,
Lift prayers to Spirit,
Dedicate a space for a particular spiritual purpose,
Prepare space for ritual, journey work and meditation,
“Clear the air” after an argument or an intense conversation,
and I have lots of other reasons to work with sacred smoke and the spirits of plants.
If you want to work with local plants, I encourage you to do a bit of research to see which plants and trees work best as smudge; personally I love to work with Juniper (cedar), pine, mugwort, yarrow, rosemary and rose (in loose incense or wrapped on the outside of my smudge bundle) and local resins to burn on coals (or a charcoal disc). I purchase from ethical sources and keep on hand: palo santo, white sage, tobacco and a variety of resins. You can visit Druid’s Garden to learn to make your own smudge sticks: Making Smudge Sticks From Homegrown Plants And Wildharvested Materials.
When selecting plants to work with, I always ask permission before harvesting any plants. If I feel a “no” or a “not this one” or “not right now” anywhere in my awareness, I don’t harvest. I will leave a small gratitude offering whether I receive a yes or a no.
“Cedar is burned at the deathbed to release the spirit of the dying. Pine is burned after death to help those still living to release the dead.
Pine smoke from smoldering branches penetrate the house to cleanse and clear away ghost spirits. It initially burns the eyes but then the vision clears.
My grandmother performed this burning at deaths in the community. I must admit that I’ve been lapse in my adult years with this ritual. But it’s never too late to burn first the cedar and then the pine to release the spirits and ghosts that may be hovering in the corners or at the top of the stairs.”
When working with sacred smoke, each tool that’s used while smudging represents and honors an element. For example, the abalone shell (or fire proof container) represents Water, the flame used to light the smudge represents the Fire element, the feathers represent and honor Air, and the herbs, trees, resins, etc. represent the element of Earth. When these elements are combined via the ritual of smudging, the element of Ether or Spirit is invoked and honored.
I personally begin with a prayer of gratitude and intention, asking the spirits of the plants and the elements and directions to be with me and lend protection while I work. And when I say protection, I’m not just asking for physical or energetic protection. I am asking that my attention stay protected… from me. I want my focus to be clear and steady. I want my prayers to be authentic. I want my intention to be heart-centered. I am asking for protection around all of that.
Next, I smudge myself, clearing and cleansing my energy field and bringing my mind into “right relationship” with my intention. What are my motives? Are my internal processes in alignment with my heart and my purpose? If there’s anything (emotionally, mentally, spiritually) that’s in the way of internal alignment, I ask that the smudge clear it away so that I can proceed in a good way.
Then I offer the sacred smoke to the directions and my ancestral helping spirits. Holy Gratitude.
Next I will open windows (if I am indoors and want to clear space) and possibly doors, and use smoke to cleanse the space, working in a clockwise direction in each area, paying close attention to corners, closets and underneath furniture. If I am not cleansing an entire space, but one particular area, I still work in a clockwise manner, and encourage airflow by opening windows.
If you need to clear a space and you are sensitive to smoke, you can
Make or purchase a smudge spray
Use sound (rattles, bells, etc. to clear dense energy
Utilize Reiki or other forms of energy work to transmute energy in a space
Finally, after any ceremonial work or clearing of an area, I thank my spiritual support, I give thanks to the directions and to the spirit of the plants who gave of themselves for my purpose.
“Bad” energy and “Ghosts”
I’ll be the first one to say that there’s some bad shit in the world. Some of it is generated by humans and some of it is not. If you want more insight around the way I work with energy and ghosts, you may want to consider taking an Earth Medicine intensive. For the purpose of this blog post, though, here’s my basic thoughts on bad energy and ghosts.
Energy is neutral. It doesn’t have a good or bad charge on its own. The good or bad comes from people. If someone feels uncomfortable around an energy, she may think of it as “bad” energy. If someone’s personality doesn’t mesh with mine, she may think I have “bad” energy, when really, I’m mirroring something for her that may make her feel uncomfortable. Energy is neutral. What we do with it puts a positive or negative charge on it. Our intention is what flavors the energy. I’m sure someone can (and will) make an argument for that, but that’s how I process energy in general.
Some indigenous cultures see energy has having a variety of vibrational frequencies. There is light vibrational frequency, and there is the dense, heavy vibrational frequency. Smudging and an energy clearing process is often used to disperse and / or transmute that heavy, dense energy.
I see ghosts as the spirits of the deceased who have not, for some reason, transitioned properly, and they’re earth bound either out of confusion or an inability/unwillingness to resolve issues or beliefs that are keeping them here. Most ghosts are not “bad”, but they don’t have the right to be here; any energy that they use in order to be in this realm is usually generated by the strong emotions of the living. In my opinion, smudge is not what gets the unresolved dead to leave your presence. Your intention, your telling them to leave, and your resolution not to feed them with your emotions is what makes them leave.
Most often, sacred smoke gets rid of what we call “imprints”. Imprints can often be mistaken for ghosts because they can be very strong energy impressions and can sometimes be seen by the living. Imprints are not spirits; they’re more like energetic fingerprints, or they can sometimes be strong emotions left behind by the living. These energy imprints can feel spooky or heavy, or they can leave behind a trail of strong (and sometimes influential) emotions. Smudge is an excellent way to disperse that energy and clear it out of your space.
To clear imprints / heavy energy, I suggest using Juniper (cedar), mugwort or white sage. I tend to lean more toward bioregional plants since white sage is over harvested and working with the plants in my space to balance and clear energy of my space simply makes sense to me.
After I cleanse and clear a space, I like to burn sweet herbs or resins to invite healing and protection and wellness into a space. For this I may choose sweet clover, lavender blooms, roses or sweetgum resin if I want to honor the bioregional model of earth medicine, or I may choose sweetgrass if I feel led to work with it.
One South American tree that I really love is Palo Santo. I work with it sparingly because it is not one of my local allies. I work with this wood primarily in body/mind therapy sessions and to “seal” the auric field of a person after a healing session.
For more awesome information and resources:
The Amazing Cat Torelli has a kickass incense shop on Etsy. Check it out: Forest Druid Creations. Her incense, Florida water and Queen of Hungary water are above and beyond fabulous.
Rebecca “McTrouble” Altman at Cauldrons and Crockpots wrote a very interesting blog post on smudging (from an herbalist’s perspective) called Holy Smoke.
Lemon balm, or Melissa officinalis, is a member of the mint family. This lemon scented, square-stemmed plant is one of my very favorite herbal allies
for nervous stomach and gut lining repair,
as a gentle nervine (relaxes the nerves and helps with anxiety),
for lowering blood pressure,
to relieve digestive complaints (gas, bloating, etc),
to help heal herpes simplex outbreaks (fever blisters),
for hyperthyroidism, esp. Graves’ Disease (contra-indicated for hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s),
for focus and mental clarity,
as well as blended with motherwort for heart palpitations.
When I approach working with Lemon balm, I think “nervous system” and “digestion”.
Lemon balm’s actions on the nervous system are very interesting, in that it offers clarity of mind, calming of frayed nerves, and it can even assist with insomnia. I originally thought that clarity and insomnia were poles apart on some kind of nervine spectrum, but the more I work with this plant, the more I begin understand its function (even though I may have a difficult time describing it).
In cases of insomnia when the mind is “ON” with no off switch in sight, I have experienced the function of lemon balm as calming and soothing to the sympathetic nervous system so that I can see that “lights out” switch more clearly. It’s not a heavily sedating nervine that will knock you out; it’s more like being rocked and soothed so that sleep can come more gently. I like to blend it with skullcap and catnip for this, and I am considering pairing it with mimosa bark tincture to assist in restoring sleep rhythms.
I have had amazing results with lemon balm speeding the healing of fever blister outbreaks. When I first feel that itchy-tingly-burning sensation of a fever blister on my lip, I immediately put ice on it. I mean STAT. I will keep ice on it until I’m sick of the cold (I usually run through 1 or 2 ice cubes) and then I dose liberally with lemon balm tincture (and by liberally I mean a teaspoon at least several times a day during the outbreak). I was told that only lemon balm essential oil can heal a fever blister, but that’s not true. The tincture is much more sustainable, not nearly as expensive, and it works great. When I take the tincture internally, I like to hold it between my lower lip and gums for a while. I will also dab some tincture onto the lesion site to help dry it. The healing time using this method of treatment is very fast and the lesion stays tiny until it’s healed.
Several years ago I played around with bitters blends. One of the blends I made was Lemon Balm Bitters, and I had great feedback; one person reported that he felt like it pulled him out of a depressed state and he absolutely loved it. That blend consisted of lemon balm, cardamom, a tiny bit of gentian root (trust me on this), honey and vodka.
My clarity elixir consists of lemon balm, cardamom, calamus root and mountain mint. I absolutely love it, and I find it helpful at clearing out mental cobwebs. I’m having to read a lot more now for graduate school (with much more reading to look forward to) and I’m adjusting to reading glasses (dammit), so this blend is very helpful to me right now.
I have only scratched the surface of the many benefits of lemon balm, but an herb that relieves anxiety, calms nervous tension and digestion issues, offers clarity AND gets rid of my stress-induced fever blisters?
P.S. Please be careful using lemon balm if you are pregnant, if your blood pressure already runs really low, or if you have hypothyroidism / Hashimoto’s. In these cases, avoiding lemon balm entirely or using it under the supervision of a medical or herbal professional is a good plan.
I love to work with people who are involved in relationship challenges; I offer an Earth Medicine healing session that involves energetic clearing and restoration of power.
True power is a beautiful and necessary component of a whole and complete person. “Power over” is what people generally think of when they hear the word “power”, but true power doesn’t hold anything over anyone; true power is something that needs to be restored in order to operate from a heart-centered place in relationships.
Power is very healing when you’re holding and working with your own power; but what if someone else is holding your power? What would that look like?
Someone else may be holding your power when you feel lost or out of control while trying to communicate.
Maybe you have a difficult time keeping your emotions and someone else’s emotions separate.
You may feel a sense of overwhelm, confusion or even a bit of fatigue while simply being in the presence of a particular person.
What would holding someone else’s power look like for you?
You may feel like you always have to take care of, fix or complete something for someone else, even though they should be able to do it on their own.
They need you. “What would they do without me?”
You were called “little mama” or “protector” or “the man of the house”, etc., from a very young age.
The work that you and I do together helps to restore your power, and it also helps you to gently and respectfully return the power that you hold for others, giving you the opportunity to approach your relationships from a more loving and authentic place.
The clearing process that we do together will help you to clear any energy that keeps you in emotional patterns that no longer serve you. At the same time, we will track, identify and bring healing to empathy overwhelm so that you can bring your complete presence to your relationships without feeling like you’re taking on your loved one’s pain or emotional issues.
This work helps with relationships between paterners, siblings, parent/child, coworkers, and just about any other relationship imaginable. Relationship begins with the YOU that you bring to it. If you are struggling with a relationship challenge, contact me via the contact form below, and let’s schedule a time to work together.
Boo and Me: an ongoing saga
January 2013 – May 2016
Me: Uh, Boo, I think you tilled my comfrey up.
Jack: Oh, damn. I’m sorry.
Me: That’s okay. Expect it to be all over the place now.
Me: *blending away at my apothecary space, aka: computer desk*
Jack: “What are you messing with?”
Me: “Oh, hops, valerian, skullcap, oats, passionflower and chamomile. Why?”
Jack: “It smells like nasty socks in here.”
Me: “Yeah. That’s the valerian.” *loopy grin* “Want some?”
Jack: “Uh. No.”
Jack is getting ready to cook a ham for his sister.
Jack: “Did you use all the brandy?” Me: “I guess so.”
Jack: *deep sigh*
Me: “I only stole it that one time. I don’t know why you’re trippin.”
Jack: *cuts eyes at me while diggin into his whisky stash*
I always run out of alcohol on Sunday.
*eyeballs Jack’s whiskey and chews fingernail*
I asked real sweetly, and Jack let me have some of his brandy for my wild roses. My Boo is a good man.
Me *upon arriving home from work*: “Hey Boo. Has Sister made it home yet?”
Jack *smoking a cigarette in the carport*: “Apparently, she never left.”
Me: “What do you mean???”
Jack: “Well, I happened to look into the house through the living room window, and she was staring at me from inside. I went to check on her and she was gone. So either I am hallucinating, or Sister never left the building.”
Me: “Well, where is she?”
Jack: “I don’t know. Probably plastered against the ceiling somewhere.”
Jack: What are you doing?
Me: Making pain salve.
Jack: *wrinkles nose*
Me: Wut. You don’t have to be all sour about it.
Jack: I am just concerned about what it will do to the pots.
Me: It’s okay, Boo. I do it all the time, and you’ve never noticed.
Me: *walks carefully through the house with a goblet filled with water and stones in each hand. Headed outside to le full moon.*
Jack: “What are you doing?”
Me: “Making magic. Get the door for me, Boo.”
Jack: “I’ll be back in a minute. I’m going to look for my chainsaw.”
Me *all fluttery*: “Uh. Wait. What are you gonna do?”
Jack looks back at me all confused. “I’m going to cut up that pine and haul it away.”
Me: “Uh. Wait. I need you to save me some branches and needles for medicine.”
Me: “And I need you to leave the dogwood branches.”
Me: “And I need you to leave the cedars.”
Jack gives me that look.
Yeah. That one.
Me: “What?! They’re small.”
Jack *big sigh* “Okay.”
So he gets a hug.
Me: “Thank you for helping me make medicine, Boo.”
Jack: “You’re welcome.”
Jack is trying to move stuff out of the riding lawnmower seat, and a wren flies out of the shopvac filter *you know, the filter that has not been properly cleaned and returned to the shopvac since Memommy’s kitchen flooded over a month ago*.
Jack… Dana. Come here. Look inside that filter over there.
Wren… Screaming at us from the nearby fence.
Me… Did you find her nest? Move away from it. She’s upset.
Wren… Still screaming.
Jack… I’m trying to move this lawn mower. She’s gonna be a lot more upset in a minute.
Wren… Now pissed and screaming. Hopping towards us a bit along the fence.
Me… You better back away, Boo. She’s gonna take you out.
Jack… *muttering* I don’t know why she thinks she needs that filter. There’s a perfectly good coffee can in the corner.
Me (on phone with Jack): “Hey Boo! Happy 11 year anniversary!”
Jack (aka “boo”): “Uh. *silence* Thanks.”
Me: “I just looked at my phone and saw the date. I’m sure you have been waiting for my call all morning.”
Jack: “Yeah. I was so hurt.”
Me: “I’m sure you were, baby. Just so you know, it’s your job to remember the wedding anniversary. It’s my job to remember the dating anniversary.”
Jack: “Okay. Great.”
We’re listening to music. We bought Jack a turntable for his vinyl records. Cuz you know, that’s how we roll. Boz Skaggs is blasting outta the speakers right now and Jack says: “I bought this record in 1973.”
Me (smiling): “I was 2.”
Me: *stares blankly at the computer*
Jack: What are you doing?
Me: *mumbles something about having 8 tabs open and so much to do*
Jack: Here’s some wine. Come out back and stare into the dark for a while.
15 minutes later we’re listening to Dire Straits and laughing like loons.
I love that man.
Me: “Hey Boo. Checkit out.”
(swings freshly shaved legs onto his lap)
Jack: “Mmmm.” (rub)
Me: “I did it Just for You.”
Jack, aka Boo: What is that black stuff on the floor?
Me: oh, that must be some pleather from my chair.
Boo: *raises eyebrow at me*
Me: I sure have enjoyed my chair, Boo.
Boo: I am sure you have; you’ve been living in it for three years.
Me: Hey my Boo.
Jack: What’s up?
Me: Happy 12th anniversary.
Jack: Oh, that’s nice.
Me: I love you.
Jack: Love you too.
Me: “Ermagawd I found my FUZZY PRINCESS SLIPPERS!!!!
Jack: *sighs* “I’m so glad.”
Me: “OMG I am such an amazing wife. You’re so lucky, my Boo.”
Jack: *hugs me* “I’m glad you think so.”
Jack sees me limping in a pitiful manner: “What’s wrong?”
Me: “I just cut a gash in my leg.”
Jack *looking down* “It’s a cut.”
Me: “It’s an enormous GASH.”
Jack: “It’s a scrape.”
Me: “It was awful!!”
Jack: “I’ll send flowers.”
Me, in the carport, getting my smudge on. Jack pulls up.
Me: Hey Boo.
Jack: Hey. What are you doing?
Me: Well, you have to smoke outside, so I am… smoking outside.
Lovely nighttime sounds at the Bailey house:
Jack: “Dammit.” *scuffles at front door* “Willoughby, NO. Dana, come here and catch this frog!”
Me, saying good night to Jack: “Night, Boo. I just want you to know that I’m brilliant.”
Boo: “I already know.”
Me: *fondles and lusts over the huge, amazing, gorgeous malachite stone… then picks up the much less expensive purple fluorite* “I’ll take this fluorite.”
Jack: *walks up to the stones* “I’ll take that green rock.”
We’ve got some severe weather going down in our area.
Me: Now Boo, if you get scared, you just let me know.
Jack: I’m sure you’ll get right on it.
A dead pine fell in today’s storm, knocking down our power lines. I have called the electric company and they’re sending someone out to put the lines back up.
Me: Boo? Can you come home and help me make sure they don’t cut down our native azaleas and dogwoods and whatnot? I have already told them that our yard is “a sanctuary for native plants”.
Jack: Yeah. Don’t cut anything that grows like crazy here.
Me: Boo… *sad voice*
Jack: I’ll see what I can do.
Me: If you’re not here, I may be reduced to begging them to have mercy on my plants. I may even have to run outside without a bra on.
Jack: I know how this works. Your way would be much more effective. If I get home, I’ll stay out of the way.
Jack: What are you doing?
Me: *pulls ear plugs out of my ears* I’m listening to a LCSW talk about being in private practice.
Me: I’m so excited. I want to learn ALL THE THINGS.
Jack: I’ve noticed.
Me: Hey Boo! There are 2 gray snakes in the front yard doing the nasty!
Jack: Huh? Where?
Me: In the front flower bed, right off the porch. I startled one of them when I opened the front door, and he raced behind the corner flower pot. I told him I wasn’t going to hurt him.
Jack: What’d he say?
Me: He wasn’t buying it.
Each time a hard rain comes, I can count on two things: lots of usnea on the ground and many worms struggling to survive in my carport.
We’ll visit the medicine of usnea another day; today I want to explore Worm Medicine.
Sometimes when I save the worms, they are so exhausted from their struggle to find a safe place (namely, a section of earth that’s not completely saturated), or so covered in pollen and dirt, they are easy to pick up, rinse off and place gently in a bowl of soil.
Some worms, however, are fresh out of the water and they’re just small enough and strong enough that they struggle to get away from me, and tending to these worms is a challenge. I have a really hard time picking them up. On occasion I accidentally tear one, and I hate when that happens. It’s not my intention to hurt them.
I see the value of worms. I understand what they represent; they enrich my heavy clay soil, and make tunnels, allowing water and air to nourish the earth. Their castings bring nourishment to plants. Good bacteria and fungi are more present in areas where earthworms are abundant.
I love them.
Sometimes, when conditions outside their control occur, they can no longer stay in their homes, so they are pushed to the surface of the earth and they struggle to survive. (The birds are really grateful for this, but the situation isn’t always happy for the worms).
When I can get to them before the feathered ones, they go into a container of moist soil. After the rains, they are usually placed in one of my herb beds.
While tending to the worms this morning, I was thinking about the decision that the senators of MS made to pass the House Bill 1523, wondering how I could possibly make a difference in my community, in my state, when my state representives most definitely do not represent me.
I can announce to all and sundry, “Come to the Holistic Center. I will not judge you or turn you away. You are accepted, loved and supported here, no matter what you believe and no matter your sexual preference or identity.”
I can use my privilege as a white, straight woman to speak up about what equality means to me and I can choose how I walk this earth in integrity.
I can love and accept and welcome those who hold completely opposite views. Because when I hold resentment and defensiveness and hate in my heart, it’s still hate. And in the deepest part of my heart, I know that hate can hurt us; it can freeze us; it can kill us. Even if we feel it’s justified.
And so I look for something to do that can generate compassion in my heart.
I speak up for my loved ones, my friends and myself.
I offer my work and my space to anyone whose heart hurts because of this painful step backwards that our state is preparing to take.
Strong Women: Dana Bailey – Herbalism, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, and Reiki
Let’s talk about earth medicine in the deep South; how the dense, verdant air moves and shifts, how history survives among the living, and the people whose roots hold tight to the soil. Earth medicine in the South, especially herbalism, is practiced at the knees of the ancestors. This practice is the people’s medicine, and those who cultivate it within their communities are seen as leaders and pillars. Dana Bailey is one of these pillars; she is vivacious, fun, carefree, and, especially, non-judgmental…being in her presence instantly puts you at ease. You can trust she has your health and best interest at heart. These qualities combined with her skills in herbalism, Cranio-Sacral therapy, and reiki make her an absolutely amazing practitioner, and she is a true asset to Mississippi and the surrounding areas.
Dana spent the first seven years of her life living in Dwight, Kansas – her father was an army man, stationed at Fort Riley. When he tragically died at the age of 27, her mother, Marie, moved Dana and her baby brother back home to Mississippi. From this point forward, Dana grew up in the heart of the South with her mother and brother, along with her Nanny and her extended family.
It is safe to say Dana’s introduction to plant medicine came from her Nanny. Nanny was a tea maker and grew many of her own plants to brew teas and infusions to cure her family’s ills. At the beginning of our interview, Dana recounted one of her Nanny’s brewing anecdotes: When Dana’s mother was little, she got very constipated and Nanny brewed her up a strong cup of terrible tasting tea. Marie didn’t want to drink it. Papa Jack, who didn’t believe that the tea would work, gave Marie a wink and when Nanny wasn’t looking, downed the cup so Marie wouldn’t have to. He then spent the rest of the afternoon in the bathroom!
When Dana was around 12 years old she told her Nanny she wanted to grow herbs, so Nanny gave her tips on how to grow some of her favorite plants – catnip, spearmint, and chamomile – and offered her a pile of reference books, saying, “Read these and one day you’ll be teaching me about herbs.” Nanny’s prediction more than came true – Dana now teaches MANY people about herbs.
Dana received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in Social Science from Blue Mountain College. She is planning on going back to school to complete a master’s degree in Counseling within the next five years.
Dana met her husband, Jack, at Starting Over Coffeehouse in Tupelo. She said she walked into the shop, ordered her coffee, and noticed there was a man in some kind of uniform at “her” table. She kept glancing at him because she thought he looked familiar, but she couldn’t figure out who he was. She got her coffee and realized he looked just like Sam Elliott. So she sat across from him, batted her eyelashes and said hi. He replied in a dry, deadpan tone, “Hey.” Then he took a final drag of his cigarette, drained his coffee, got up and walked out. Dana watched him leave and thought to herself, “He doesn’t know it yet, but I’m gonna get me some of that.” It took her six months to convince him to let her “bag and tag” him. On their first date she asked him why it took him so long and he told her he though she was only 20, close to his daughter’s age. She was 32.
Dana says, “Jack is so supportive of everything, encouraging of whatever I want to do. Before, people would tell me no and I would just stop – he was so laid back and grounded that I felt safe enough to explore who I was – he was a loving container for my self exploration – my home base.” They have been together for over 12 years and have two cat fur babies – Willoughby and Sister.
Tumbleweed: Can I just say I love your stories–especially how you met Jack and your Nanny’s infamous teas. It seems like you are a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to get it. Tell us how you started on your path to your current work.
Dana: I was married to someone else before Jack, and when I mercifully ended that marriage in 2000, I was invited to go on a three month trip to Honduras with some friends who were missionaries. I had a lot of time for reflection. What did I want to do? I would be starting my life all over again. One evening I was on my balcony at the cabin overlooking the Caribbean – which sounds much more glamorous than it was; we were in a very poor village – and I thought to myself, “What do I really want to be when I grow up?” Massage therapy kept popping into my mind. I thought, “I can do whatever I want.” I finally realized I was an adult who could make her own decisions. So I told my friend Beverly I wanted to be a massage therapist and she said, “Let’s get you some training while we’re here.” So as we went from village to village we met with Honduran therapists in our free time and got massages, gave massages to each other and just learned as much as we could. Then when I returned to the states I went to massage therapy school in Tupelo, MS, and began working.
Tumbleweed: Now you primarily do CranioSacral therapy. Can you explain how that is different from your typical massage?
Dana: Yes, I worked as a massage therapist for a total of 12 years full time; I started my CranioSacral practice back in 2003. It is a light touch form of therapy that targets the central nervous system and fascial restrictions. Most of my clients are people with high stressed lives. Maybe they have a hard time relaxing or sleeping, or have been in pain for a long time. Their nervous systems get stuck in sympathetic mode. Sometimes they have been in accidents where massage is contraindicated or they are in stressful relationships with emotional problems. All of these types of clients can receive relief with CranioSacral work.
Tumbleweed: Dealing with those kinds of issues can take a toll on the body! And it is also not easy work for a practitioner to help others heal from those problems. What strategy have you developed to help you give your clients the help they need?
Dana: The ways I have blended my skills are often a reflection of the type of people I see; much like a response to a call. Clients come in with specific emotional issues, and releasing restrictions in the body allows emotions to bubble to the surface, and I provide a safe container for them to express, emote, and release what they are holding onto. The central nervous system is not the seat of the emotions – it is “stress response”. Imagine a five year old boy playing in his room and his older brother jumps out and scares him. This engages flight mode and the boy runs through the house, headed for the door. Suddenly his mother grabs his arm, stops him and tells him to stop running in the house. Now his central nervous system is stuck in flight mode; he has been forced to physically stop, but his flight response is still running full blast inside his little body. If he had kept running, he would have gone outside, maybe hidden, looked around, and eventually realized it was his brother and there was nothing to be afraid of, and his nervous system would have been able to discharge naturally. What I have found is I am treating people who are still in fight, flight or freeze mode, often after functioning for years without their nervous systems being discharged. I address those issues and give them a safe space for self-correction.
Tumbleweed: You have a very unique belief structure. Would you mind telling us more about that?
Dana: I will tell you a bit, but let me first say that, when I’m in session with a client, my belief system or cosmology is not important; only theirs is. I adore diversity, and I actively embrace it in my work and in my spiritual practice. I am an Earth-based spiritualist – I call it a form of Animism. To me, all of nature has spirit, animation and intelligence, and that we as humans are a small piece of that. God designed us (us, meaning all people; not just human people) that way. Trees, rocks, rivers, mountains, plants, animals, insects, fungi, even Mother Earth, have complex intelligence, they just express themselves in a different way from humans. Right relationship with Nature is more important than self gratification. I have my minister’s license from an interfaith school. It was a very diverse program that included Catholics, Protestants, Taoists, Wiccans, Pagans…any religion you can think of really. In completing that program I realized that it doesn’t matter what I claim to believe; it’s all the same (to me) on a fundamental level. I came from the Divine Presence, and when I don’t need this body anymore, I will return to that place from which I came. I don’t need to put a name to it in order for it to be true for me. Acknowledging and embracing the diversity all around me became the focus of my practice. I work with a fabulous lady named Lisa, and we run an online spiritual school that teaches people of all ages and spiritual backgrounds the art of self priestessing. I’ve been teaching with Lisa since 2008.
Tumbleweed: You have mentioned that acceptance has been a personal challenge for you.
Dana: Yes, my biggest challenge has been around diversity, acceptance, and compassion. I always felt different, like my family and friends wouldn’t be able to see past my differences and accept me and love me for who I am. I realized I had to become for other people what I needed most in my life. I have set myself up to be the person with arms wide open saying, “Come here. I will never judge you.” People have asked me, “If you have a pain point, or a need that is not being met, how can you help someone else?” Seriously, though, for me, it was in that action, in embodying and radiating what I needed most, that I found myself. It takes courage to use your dynamic voice; I was so afraid of criticism in the past, but I can honestly say that when the pain of not being myself became stronger than any fear of judgement…that was when I knew I had no other option; I had to become what I needed most.
Tumbleweed: You also practice Reiki and teach a lot of classes. When did all that start?
Dana: I have been a Reiki practioner since November 2002 and started teach all my different classes (as a Reiki Master Teacher) in the spring of 2003. My mother used to say to me, “If it’s not fun you won’t do it.” While that’s not completely true (okay, Mostly True), I do like to have fun in everything I do.
(Dana’s beloved Pudge!)
Tumbleweed: You are starting an in-person beginning herbalism class. How do you structure your class?
Dana: Well it is three parts. The first part is teaching the student about herself. That means learning what her constitution and temperament is, among other things like looking more deeply at that individual’s energetics, habits, what she eats, where she may be out of balance. Then we move on to part two, which is learning about the energetics of plants and what plants can be matched with this person; what would bring her into a place of balance. For example, bitters are most often cooling, so to someone who is already cool, a warming herb like angelica should be added to bring the bitters into energetic balance for her. The last part is teaching the student how to make tinctures, elixirs, infused oils, salves, shrubs, oxymels, and nourishing infusions. My teaching is all about developing a relationship. What herbs make great friends for you? What plants will nourish you best? Those are things I want to help people discover.
Tumbleweed; You also encourage your students to learn from many teachers, don’t you?
Dana: Absolutely! I always tell people if they want to take an in-depth program, to go to Phyllis [Light], Rosemary [Gladstar], Sam [Coffman], Jim [MacDonald], 7Song, Matt [Wood] etc. These herbalists all have such unique perspectives, and by learning all you can from different teachers, you really get a more thorough education. So I tell people to take classes with everyone they can can; no one can teach you everything.
Tumbleweed: Racheal and I have taken some classes from Sam. We also went to an intensive with him and 7Song at the AHG Symposium in Colorado this year.
Dana: 7Song! I am so in love with that man – I want to climb him like a monkey! He and Matt Wood. Really, I love everyone. Wait. No I don’t. Hahahaha.
Tumbleweed: I’m sure there are a lot of people who say the same. So, when did you open the Holistic Center in Tupelo?
Dana: Well, the Holistic Center has been in existence for a long time, but it sat empty for a few years. It began in another location, and the owner of the building asked me to move my practice there. I worked there for six years and I loved that sweet space. One day she called and said that I had to leave because she needed the space for something else. The name wasn’t mine, but she said that I could continue to use it. It has been the name of my business since August of 2013. Now I have a great business partner, Evanna, and we lease a wonderful space on Traceland Drive in Tupelo.
Tumbleweed: What is your favorite herb, and why?
Dana: My first love is Goldenrod; it is just so much like me. When I first learned about it, I was sneezing my head off and someone pointed to goldenrod and said, “That’s what’s making you sneeze,” so I avoided it as much as I could (I am very sorry to admit). Then when Jack and I moved into our current house, there was a big healthy stand of goldenrod. I didn’t notice it until it bloomed that fall, and I thought, “Oh no! That’s goldenrod!” Jack offered to get rid of it and I just couldn’t let him do it. So I did some research. I had, like many others, confused goldenrod with ragweed [which blooms at the same time]. Goldenrod is such a misunderstood plant, and I grew up feeling the same way. The problems I had – she was the medicine. One year, I studied her throughout the entire year and made all kinds of medicine. I noted the changing flavors based on when it was harvested, when the medicine in the plant was the strongest, etc. She also taught me a lot about myself.
[You can read her blog post about her year with goldenrod here]
Tumbleweed: What has been the most challenging thing about your work?
Dana: Developing Osteoarthritis and having to stop doing massage therapy has been my biggest challenge. This was a huge loss of income, and having to say goodbye to some amazing clients who only wanted massages was very sad for me. Many massage therapists develop arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. It is just not a long term, full time job. It can be if you take really good care of yourself, but I wasn’t smart when I began this career. I was seeing 8-10 people, 6 days a week. I should have been seeing 4-5 people, 4-5 days a week… that’s a full time career for a massage therapist in my experience.
Tumbleweed: What makes all the hard work worthwhile?
Dana: The integrative work I do now is very exciting to me. I am meeting so many new people with challenges and I’m finding that working with my clients in this way – seeing the light turn on for them – seeing them step into a place of wellness – can be life changing to witness. It is an honor to observe their process and how strong and resilient they are. Many of my clients are women and it is so amazing to me how strong women really are when they crack open and allow themselves to be vulnerable. I was talking to my shamana sister Karen about this…about being in our communities and walking with integrity. Karen and I are very aware of the subtle instances we may not walk in complete integrity, and we’re willing to explore those dark places in ourselves and continuously align our actions with our hearts. Karen told me, “What we do, Dana, is shine a light on the places within us that aren’t pretty. But once they’re exposed to that light and our acceptance of them, they become treasure.” Women are so strong. When I am hurt, get angry or can’t get past an issue, that is when I turn to my allies and I work though my stuff. It gets messy and ugly and sometimes a bit snotty, but I don’t settle for anything less than wholeness for myself. Each time I heal, I get a bit more whole, and the more whole I am, the more I can be in right relationship with others and walk through this world in a good way.
Tumbleweed: Feminism is a hot topic right now. What does it mean to you?
Dana: Being able to do whatever the fuck I want, whenever I fucking want to do it. However I want to express myself. I love men, whew do I love men, and many men are very supportive of women. It is just as empowering in my opinion to be a stay at home mom and teach the next generation [as it is to have a career outside the home]. If I want to make googly eyes at Jack and wash his undies, I can be a feminist and do that. If I want to split everything down the middle financially with Jack, I can do that as well (please don’t tell him I said that. LOL) Feminism has lots of growing and maturing to do – but I am so glad we have it.
Tumbleweed: We always ask women about their strong female roots. Do you have a woman from your ancestry who has inspired you?
Dana: I get told that I’m like my Nanny in a lot of ways. But she was a much more fragile person than I; I think I am more like my dad in temperament and personlity. Nanny’s softness brought out the softness in me, though, and I am grateful for her impact on my life. However, I would have to say my mother is my inspiration; my mother is such a strong supporter and a place of strength for me. She and I grew up together. She was 18 when I was born. Don’t get me wrong, she was definitely my mother before she was my friend. But when I became an adult, she became my dearest friend. I can call her any time and she will be present and supportive of me. My mom always says, “My mother (Nanny) was my biggest cheerleader,” and I feel the same way about Mom; she is my biggest fan. I learned loyalty and how to have deep, long lasting friendships from her. She raised the bar on what a true friend is. She in my biggest role model around how I want to show up in the world. She is a fierce ally, loves very deeply, and is very loyal. So yeah. My mom is my biggest inspiration.
Dana’s mother’s influence on her daughter is palpable. Dana is the kind of person that you feel is instantly your best friend. She is supportive of those around her, and works to help her community in any way she can. And we are so glad to be part of her circle.
Back in 2008 I was facilitating small workshops that I called “Earth Ways” short courses. One workshop was called “Connecting with Place”, one was on “Tree Spirit Medicine”, I had a class on “Animal Allies” and a mini workshop called “Listening to Plants”…basic techniques, really, but these classes came from my deep desire for connection, and I may have had two students. One of them was me. LOL
Then in 2010 I had a pretty traumatic emotional experience where I dissociated and struggled for a few years to come back into a place of wellness and connection. I won’t go into the details, and only a few people know the particulars, but I sat in a very painful place, and the only constant connections I had were my spirit allies, my spiritual practice and a few intimate friends.
It took several years of working closely with my spirit allies before I felt whole again; before my joy returned. I still am very protective of my personal space and my connections because I know how it feels to lose my “Place”, both internally and in the world.
This Earth Medicine intensive and ultimately the Earth Medicine Training Center was born from the healing work that I did with my ancestral allies, my animal and plant allies and my land spirits.
I first felt the call to open a training center in August 2014 while I was working in Costa Rica. I had just finished teaching a 2-week CranioSacral class and I was getting ready to head up to Monteverde to be with my shamana sister, Karen. I had just finished a journey with Bear and I was free writing afterwards. All of a sudden, “shamanic training center” was on the page. I burst out laughing.
I began my Earth Medicine online intensive on December 1, 2014, and I thought, “This must be what Bear meant by a ‘training center’; I can do this,” and I put it out of my mind.
Then in March, my friend Pat died, and I had the great honor of being with her and doing ceremony with her and preparing her for transition while she was in Hospice House.
Shortly after Pat left, I experienced a health crisis and had to retire from massage therapy. Bear poked me again during my 5 month healing process and announced that I was going to open a real physical training center. I couldn’t even play a drum for more than a few minutes without pain. The entire idea felt impossible to me.
Ultimately, I trusted the guidance I was receiving in spite of what my physical reality was showing me. I began to dream with Bear; I wrote down my dreams and waited for the symbols to be revealed to me. I asked questions and received clarity. I rested. In the daytime I fleshed out what came to me.
Like many contemporary people, I first became aware of shamanism from books and drumming CDs. While I found them all interesting, and several people who offered their basic teachings online were of great value to my foundational practice, I would look at these wonderful people and their works and, while admiring them greatly, think, “This isn’t my path.”
Something felt wrong.
In my search for culture and place, I began digging around in my family line via Rootsweb and Ancestry.com (and amazing cousins who have done years of personal research). I have 9 nationalities running through my veins, but on the surface I am considered a white woman. However this white girl is French, Cherokee, English, Irish, Dutch, Scot, German, Chinese and Choctaw. And that’s just what I’m aware of. I struggled with my roots for a long time; I still felt that I didn’t have a culture or a place.
I took my feelings to Wolf in journey. It was time for me to find my “pack”. I wanted to show respect to all of the cultures that I had been exposed to through various shamanic teachings and Lakota teachings, but I knew that those ways were not my ways. It wasn’t my medicine. I also knew I didn’t want to call it “shamanism”. I am not a shaman, and I don’t feel called to become a “traditional shaman.” I am a contemporary person with a deep love and reverence for mother earth.
I spent the next 3 years working deeply and intimately with Wolf medicine, and I was shown my own practices, my own earth honoring rituals and my own method of soul retrieval, power restoration and other forms of healing.
In late 2013, Wolf stepped back and Bear came forward to give me deeper teachings. I have been working with her ever since.
When I offer information that I have been taught by others, I am mindful to let my students know where specific information came from, and then show how it became a springboard for me to learn deeper lessons with my allies.
Really, when I considered ethics, integrity and cultural appropriation while creating this intensive (and other Earth Medicine trainings), I came to a few personal conclusions; some things are universal, such as working with the directions and elements, journeying, songs, dance/movement, sonic drivers, spirit allies, etc. And those things that are not “universal”, specific ceremonies and teachings and specific songs, etc. belong to a culture and should absolutely remain with them.
My prayer is that my work is a reflection of my personal experiences, and that the sharing of them inspires my students to rely heavily on their own personal allies instead of me to be their great teachers. Only through diligent practice with our unique spirit allies can we develop and carry our own powerful medicine.
I am so thrilled to begin our Earth Medicine 6-month Online Intensive again! Starting tomorrow, December 1st, we will learn how to connect, honor and develop right relationship with all of our relations; plant, animal, mineral, tree, mountain, etc., and we will also learn how to be in right relationship with ourselves and each other.
This class is so enriching; it’s filled with wonderful information, journey exercises, ceremony examples and lesson teachings that have personally changed my life. This is called an intensive because of the amazing amount of materials that we cover; however you are not required to complete every exercise or journey prompt in this course. It’s a foundational course that is the basis for the advanced mentorship training that I offer both in person and online.
Each lesson will include the following topics: Journey exercises, Animal Spirit medicine, Plant Spirit medicine, Stone Spirit medicine and creating a working Earth Medicine Altar.
Lesson 1 teaching: Connection, Cleansing and Creating Sacred Space
Medicine of the North: Earth.
Grounding practices and Stillness
Bear and Deer Medicine
Root Medicine, Mushrooms and Elder Medicine
Lesson 2 teaching: Deepening your Relationship with your Spirit Allies
Medicine of the East: Air.
Nervous System Allies
Passiflora, Oat and Kava Medicine
Lesson 3 teaching: Boundaries and Relationships
Medicine of the South: Fire.
Mountain Lion and Wolf Medicine
Hawthorn, Rose, Cacao
Lesson 4 teaching: Emotional Wholeness; Authenticity and Integrity
Medicine of the West: Water.
Cleavers, Chickweed, Violet
Lesson 5 teaching: Connection and Right Relationship
Medicine of the Above: Spirit.
Mountain Medicine: Wisdom
Lesson 6 teaching: Healing the Medicine Carrier
Medicine of the Below: Within
Black Panther Medicine
Healing the non physical: shadow work
River Medicine: Wash it all Away
I am thrilled to be offering these lessons online! Spend 6 months in a deep, restorative experiential with me. We’re going to have a blast!
If you are located outside the United States, then it will probably be easier to send registration via PayPal. Be sure that I have your most used email address so that I can send your welcome letter!
P.S. When you register for this class, I will send you my bonus e-book, “Your Inner Garden” for FREE. Here’s a link to show you what it’s about: http://wp.me/P1kFaB-xY
I’m so excited to send this free e-book out to you when you register early because it’s so helpful in developing a sound journey practice. And we’re going to be doing some journey work in this 6-month program.
I’m really big on authentic conversations. Conversations that can change our perspectives. Conversations that help us expand our awareness. What I’m not big on, however, is using these conversations as a platform for driving another person’s “list” to your website.
I was recently invited by a lady to speak in a podcast with a master coach; the topic was on plants and shamanism. She was looking for a shamanic herbalist to speak with, and the conversation was going to take about an hour.
I was really excited and honored to be asked to represent the plant nation on this podcast, so I visited her website to get a better feel for the work that the master coach was involved in. I’m pretty open minded around the concept of contemporary shamans or universal shamanism; the work I do doesn’t follow any particular tradition. Earth Medicine concepts and practices come directly from my allies and spirit teachers, my ancestors, and trusted teachers, no matter their cultural affiliation. I didn’t see anything on her website that turned me off, even though we do not practice the same way.
When I responded that I would love to have this conversation and that the timing worked for me, this lady who works on behalf of the master coach said that she was in conversation with several herbalists, so she needed to know “the size of my list” to make sure it fits in with their guidelines.
So basically the purpose of this speaking inquiry that I received from this lady was to drive my list over to their website so that you all could not only hear me on this podcast, but also so that you will be on their email list. That way they can talk to you about the work that they do, etc. Their existing list would hear me speak and give them an opportunity to come to my website and learn all about what I do.
It’s called Joint Venture Marketing. Look it up. It’s a thing. Obviously it is also a thing with shamanism now.
To say I had a moment of WTF is an understatement. I don’t have one. single. thing. against JV marketing. In fact, if I totally believe in a product, a concept, a person’s work in the world and so forth, I will more than likely make sure you are exposed to it, either here or via some social platform, and I hope that others would do the same with me and my work. If you want me to promote your work, here’s how you can get me to do that for you:
Let me get to know you a bit before you ask me to tell everyone how wonderful you are.
Invite me to take a class or a workshop with you so that I can give you a testimonial or proper feedback. I need experience with you and your work before I start singing your praises to my “list”.
If we’re going to have a business relationship, let’s establish that from the beginning. I take my work very seriously and I am willing to think with my business hat on.
When it comes to sharing my list with another business and vice versa, (and by the way, I don’t consider y’all my “list”. You’re people who also love and appreciate the work of my heart, and I honor you for that.) I think there may be a better, more authentic way for this exchange to take place.
This made me question how I would like to get my work further out in the world. I want to have these good, healing conversations about our plant and tree nations, our animal allies and the deep personal healing and transformation that comes with reconnecting with nature. I WANT these conversations to happen, whether I am the human who represents these nations or whether it’s someone else. From a business perspective, I would also love to meet and interact with more people who love these Earth Medicine concepts and practices, and who would like to work with me.
It’s a tricky situation when one’s work is of a spiritual nature. Much of my work can be considered spiritual; I practice shamanic healing, energy work and teach spiritual and emotionally empowering workshops, and I also am co director of Sisters in Celebration, which has an online experiential program that teaches people how to develop their spiritual practices, and another program that teaches them how to be in service to others. We charge for these classes. I charge for everything I do. Some people would have issue with that. I don’t.
So the moral of this story is that, yes. I would love to figure out how to have authentic conversations and develop right relationship with more people at the same time. Until then, I will work on creating something for you, my friends, on plant spirit medicine.
Would you like me to address any questions you have around plant spirit medicine? Send me a message at email@example.com or reach out to me on Facebook by September 30, 2015, and I will include your questions in my recording. And thanks for being with me. ~D
Our basic schedule for the morning session:
9 am-11:30- Herb walk and making tincture form harvested herb.
11-12:30 Herb instructions and discussions of the indicated body system in general.
COST includes very nice Lunch and small tincture jars and alcohol which will be used to make a tincture to take home.
Afternoon class: “Refining your Therapeutic Touch with CranioSacral Therapy”
Everyone who is interested in any form of touch therapy or therapeutic practice will learn how to develop their skills by incorporating these palpation techniques into their work. These techniques are deeply profound, yet easy to learn.
Darrell and I are excited to bring these classes to you! Please let us know if you will be coming! If you have any questions, you may contact Darrell (check out his Blue Boy Herbs page for contact info), or if you have questions around the afternoon CST workshop, you can reach Dana at firstname.lastname@example.org
I spent 12 months focused on goldenrod (Solidago) in 2010/2011. I had worked with goldenrod for several years prior to this intense study, so I thought we had developed a really good relationship; after our year together though, I was amazed at the versatility of this native plant and how it nourished me on several levels.
The Latin name Solidago means “to make whole”.
I used to be one of those people who insisted I was allergic to goldenrod pollen. *raises hand* Then I began reading from other herbalists that Solidago is insect pollinated; it’s pollen is too heavy and sticky to be carried by the wind. They suggested that ragweed pollen is the reason for people’s allergic reactions, and I have found this to be true. Keep in mind, though, that Solidago is part of the Asteraceae family, so contact sensitivity is possible with certain people.
If you visit goldenrod while in bloom, you will see an amazing abundance of insect diversity, all cross pollinating like bandits and feeding on the nectar and leaves. Crab spiders live in my patch of goldenrod, and I always see a variety of bees, wasps, moths, and other creeping and flying insects gathering and pollinating while I am gathering my medicine.
Rarely do I harvest the roots; I’ve only been guided to do that one time with a small patch in my yard. Mostly I harvest the leaves and flowering tops. I have used flowering tops when they’ve just opened (and some hadn’t yet bloomed), and I have used them in full bloom, and I don’t taste a big difference in the medicine. The full blooms taste slightly stronger, so I tend to harvest then.
In my bioregion, goldenrod tends to bloom in mid summer, and can bloom into mid to late fall, depending on where they’re located. I see goldenrod blooming all over this area before the plants in my yard bloom. I mostly just work with the patch in my yard (unless a friend gifts me with an abundance of her goldenrod).
Energetics and Actions (from personal experience)
Solidago is energetically warm and dry; it’s bitter, aromatic and diffusive.
Primary Action #1: Causes tissues to contract and tonify (Astringent). Secondary actions with this would be anti inflammatory and drying. Goldenrod helps me with my allergy prone sinuses and runny nose. It tonifies the mucus membranes and helps support my upper respiratory tract and sinuses, helping me recover from hair trigger allergic responses to pollen, cat dander, etc. I like to blend goldenrod with ragweed tincture for this.
Action #2: Stimulates digestion (Aromatic/Carminative/Bitter). I have had issues with digestion for several years. I don’t digest foods as easily or quickly as I should; I am a Pitta/Vata body type (Ayurveda) and I have acid reflux (unknown cause). Goldenrod is one of the herbs I depend on to help me digest food properly. A secondary action for this would be the grounding and mood lifting effects of improved digestion.
Action #3: Balances bacteria – I blend goldenrod with monarda for issues with urinary tract infections and to help with low grade yeast infections. It’s also used to tonify the kidneys and bladder.
(I may end up repeating myself a bit here…)
Sweet goldenrod was once an ingredient in the famous Liberty Tea (Read about Liberty Tea here), and is again becoming a popular ingredient in herbal tea blends. I use the dried leaves in all kinds of blends… for allergies, kidney/bladder issues, for sluggish digestion and even in some nervine blends.
Goldenrod “clears the head” beautifully, especially when I have a sinus headache. Also, when I feel stressed and mentally unfocused, I have found that taking goldenrod elixir really helps bring clarity and lift my spirits. She’s great for the wintertime blahs.
The tincture has been very beneficial for me; allergies, digestion, UTIs, sadness… I love the versatility of this herb, and it pairs very well with many other herbs, depending on your need. My goldenrod is tinctured in hundred proof vodka (50% alcohol).
Goldenrod infused honey never lasts long here. There’s been only one time I made an extra batch of infused honey, put it away to steep and forgot all about it. I found it the following summer, almost a year later, and the blooms looked just as fresh as the day I drenched them in honey. That was the best goldenrod honey I’d ever had.
Infused honey is great for sore, scratchy, irritated throats due to allergies, and it’s also great, I’m told, for soothing throat irritation/pain due to flu.
I have always infused goldenrod in extra virgin olive oil; I will either let it sit in a corner (for 5 to 6 weeks) with a coffee filter or paper towel over the top so that moisture can evaporate, or if I need the oil quickly, I will do a low heat extraction method over a few days. Either extraction method works well for me.
I love to use this infused oil on muscle aches and strains, and I often blend it with other infused oils and make a “stretch ease” salve. I’ve blended it with cottonwood buds, solomon’s seal, tulip poplar, pine and cedar. Arnica and St. John’s Wort would also make nice additions, depending on the particular pain issue.
From Susun Weed: “To make a goldenrod vinegar: Chop the goldenrod coarsely, filling a jar with chopped flowers, leaves, stalks (and roots if you have them); then fill the jar to the top with room-temperature, pasteurized, apple cider vinegar. Cap it tightly with a plastic lid. (Metal lids will be eroded by the action of the vinegar. If you must use one, protect it with several layers of plastic between it and the vinegar.) Be sure to label your vinegar with the date and contents. Your goldenrod vinegar will be ready to use in six weeks to improve mineral balance, help prevent kidney stones, eliminate flatulence, and improve immune functioning.” ~From her Herbal Medicine Article: Glorious Goldenrod.
According to Susun Weed’s article, use of the vinegar will “improve mineral balance, help prevent kidney stones, eliminate flatulance, and improve immune functioning.”
I personally noticed while working with goldenrod vinegar preparations that it facilitates expansion in the lungs. I feel this more intensely when I work with the oxymel and the infused vinegar, so maybe the apple cider vinegar has something to do with that feeling. I also feel it with the tinctures and elixirs, just not as deeply.
If you want to make a really strong oxymel/shrub, use fresh, flowering tops in your vinegar and add local honey to taste. I prefer mine slightly sweet, but that’s just personal preference; some herbalists use more than 50% honey to vinegar ratio. Dried leaves make a very mellow vinegar infusion while fresh leaves and flowering tops make a very strong infusion.
Goldenrod has really helped me with communication; not necessarily with the ability to speak, but with clarity of mind and focus. (Calamus root has been very helpful in this area as well)
Emotionally, I feel happy and peaceful when I work with goldenrod. I turn to the spirit of this plant when I feel unsettled or lethargic, when I feel like I have been in the house too long (cabin fever), or when winter has been hanging around a little too long and I’m not getting enough sunshine on my face. Goldenrod is a gentle and affectionate spirit, always ready to nourish and tonify our systems and soothe us when we experience nervous energy, nervous exhaustion or chronic fatigue. I have had moments of wanting to “crawl out of my skin” emotionally, and goldenrod, used alone or combined with a few other plants, has eased me tremendously.
I wonder if goldenrod is beneficial for lymphatic issues… maybe by helping to facilitate movement in other systems of the body, it indirectly affects the lymphatic system. If anyone has worked with goldenrod on that level, I would love to have feedback.