Getting Too Big For Our Britches
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
There are a number of expressions people use to let a young boy or girl know they are out of line, and need to cut back on their shine. It may be that they are getting so confident as to be careless, seemingly endangering themselves and others, or else so sure of themselves that it begins to sound cocky and grate on the folks around them. Other times, all that’s required is for the kid or teen to express an opinion in the midst of a conversation by adults…. adults who imagine their age means that they always know better. They say things like “you’re too full of yourself,” as if it would somehow be healthier to be filled by a sense or notion outside of our selves. And “You’re getting too big for your britches,” meaning that one’s abilities haven’t caught up with their growing sense of prowess.
It’s an expression I heard a lot when I was growing up, even though by the 1960s almost no one in the cities used the word “britches” anymore when they referred to a pair of pants. And even though, in reality, any “britches” I owned were nearly always at least two sizes too large for my bod. This somewhat problematic fact had to do with the fact that my mother was the one to purchase my clothes when I was a child, and continued to help keep me in threads long after I became a runaway living in “crash pads” and enjoying a raggedy outlaw look out on the streets. Many is the time I opened up a Christmas present of denim bluejeans in my desired color black, or slid a pair of six-pocket khaki shorts out of a proffered shopping bag, only to hold them up and find they were some four inches too long, of sufficient girth to hold more than one of me in its roomy hold. The length was easily remedied by rolling about 3 to 4″ of the legs, not like the goofy cuffs on fictional Tom Sawyer’s trademark Levis, but rolled under and inside the legs like my Mama showed me, so as not to show. A greater challenge was the substantial waist, and a seat that encompassed far more than my admittedly insubstantial little ass. I loved my collection of leather belts, but cinching one up would cause the waists to fold and pleat, and the rest to blouse out like clown pants or the chinos on a homeboy.
This went on for a number of years before I, at around age 20, finally asked her the reason. Was she being thrifty, thinking it more economical for me to grown into them instead of quickly growing out of them? “No,” she told me, she simply misjudged my actual size, repeatedly, in spite of all evidence that she was leaning a little on the “my largo” side when making her selections each time. “It just always seems like you are bigger than you are. As soon as I get out of sight, I picture a son that’s apparently larger than you really are.” And why would that be, I asked. “Maybe it’s your stage presence,” she replied. From the time I was a pushy and precocious toddler, she was evidently dressing a larger than life persona. “You were just so full of yourself,” she, too, told me. And I avoided asking what else I would be better filled with, not wishing to perplex her any further.
One trait that marked my mom, was that unlike other elders in my life, she made no appeal for me to reduce my presence or be an less intensely myself, to keep my opinions quiet, shrink away, or even to really behave. She did all she could to reinforce my self confidence, and usually found my teenage cockiness more notable and entertaining than aggravating. She acted as if anything I ever might want to do or be, was a role I could be sure to grow into.
Other adults were less accepting and encouraging, continually pissing me off by laughing at or trivializing my ideas, dismissing the thoughts and feelings of their own children, talking about putting the “willful young” in their “place,” showing them who is smartest. But c’mon! If kids were so much smarter than the young, we wouldn’t make fun of magic and obey unjust rules. We wouldn’t be voting for Democratic and Republican candidates who are indistinguishable in their drive to control our every act and thought, imagining a “liberal” half black president would really protect our individual rights, or that the past few right wing presidents were truly free-market thinkers. We would be tending the planet and standing up for human rights instead of letting our desire for money and security destroy our ecosystems and our freedoms. We wouldn’t be working jobs where we have to wear poly suits and too tight of ties, or put working a boring job ahead of adventure or play time. We’d be less obedient and more critically thinking. We’d minimize our unhealthy habits and maximize our enjoyment. We’d risk everything to live our dreams, and “play hooky” whenever necessary to avoid meaningless activities and a boring existence.
Instead of acting like the young have no idea what they are talking about, it might be better to listen to their concerns, address their fears and hopes, and learn from their examples when they question dogma and authority, challenge the status quo, and turn the bass beat music up loud enough to rock the proverbial boat. They – and we – are not too big for our britches, sometimes we just need to upsize.
We should take a a hint from my bodacious, pants-buying Mama, and get past any self-doubting bullshit… because no matter how large a vessel or need might be in our future, we can still grow into it.
Author Jesse Wolf Hardin empowers the downtrodden and confounds the paradigm, writing from his wilderness sanctuary about values, politics, rural attitudes, homestead skills, antique firearms and western history (see: www.OldWestScribe.com) as well as about herbalism, natural healing, rewilding, and sense of place (see: www.PlantHealer.org/bookstore).
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Everyone here at Anima Sanctuary is themselves a writer, with Rhiannon, Elka, Kiva and I all dedicated to putting into words the experiences, insights, lessons and tales that might help enliven and inspire others. Our Plant Healer Magazine and many of our books consist of essays written by each of us, gathered into a purposeful collection. It is rare, however, that we try to co-write anything besides website text and announcements. The following comprises the only exception, an exercise by Kiva and myself, resulting in an article on a topic that can very much benefit from the perspectives of both a man and a woman: gender. It’s been a decade since this was first printed in a regional periodical, we hope you”ll still find it a valuable contribution to this ongoing and important conversation. –Wolf
by Jesse Wolf Hardin & Kiva Rose
While exclusively neither male nor female, the living planet – the natural world – embodies, contains, expresses, agitates and unleashes the qualities and characteristics of both. We’re each integral, inseparable components of that living whole. As such, we too are a collection of traits, abilities, tendencies and potentials that in consort, constitute our authentic selves. These neither define, nor are defined by gender. Unlike some of the other life-forms, we humans can assume roles according to our individual desires, characteristics and callings. And unlike most of our fellow creatures, we have the option of creating or co-creating our roles in life, not just suffering, accepting or acquiring them. Together we explore a shared path to balance, personal, sexual and global… in the still distinctive voices of woman and man.
Wolf: There’s a certain igneous cliff face near our home, with instructive rock art thousands of years old. The tribe of Mogollon Indians who lived here, the Sweet Medicine People, moved out of their underground houses and down into the valley below over 900 years before my arrival. The cliffs were made not by some gentle erosion or the overlapping of tectonic plates, but rather by the force of liquid earth erupting in a display of shifting color and uncompromised heat. Near the top of one, sheltered by a sloping overhang, is the sacred spiral painted next to phallic rhyolite spires and vaginal sandstone clefts. We often climb them, proceeding at a pace that is deliberately and meticulously slow. We’ll finger every sinuous earthen contour, press our bodies into magenta folds, pull ourselves up by the distinctively phallic projections.
In nature, male and female principals intersect and interact, without absorbing or overpowering each other, just as the brilliant colors of the cliffs mingle and vibrate against one another rather than dissolving into a common indifferentiable grey. Nature is a balance of diverse expressions — rock, tree, hawk, man, woman — that touch, mingle, and exchange with one another without sacrificing either the aesthetic value of contrast or the kinesis fueled by their dissimilarities.
Kiva: When I was a child, my well-meaning grandmother routinely tried to stuff me into frilly pink dresses, all of which were unceremoniously removed as soon as I was out of her sight. Back in the woods, I would slip happily into my favorite pair of blue jeans, the ones with both the knees worn through from all my tree climbing and underbrush adventures. It wasn’t that I thought the dresses ugly, and in fact I kept most all of them in order to admire the pretty colors and lacy fabrics. Nor did it have anything to do with not liking them, as much as that they didn’t suit my propensity to crawl through muddy swampland or collect wildflowers from spiny thickets. They simply weren’t an accurate expression of who I was. My family kept telling me, and each other, that I’d soon grow out of my “tomboy” phase. Yet at 15 I was still requesting Swiss army pocketknives for Christmas, and still receiving sewing kits instead.
As my teen years progressed, my grandparents suggested I think about becoming a stewardess. My mother, being slightly more liberal, thought I’d be better off becoming a teacher than the architect or artist that I intended to be. Just like the dress, both suggestions were rejected immediately and adamantly. I wanted no part in what I saw as boring and potentially oppressive roles simply because I happened to be born female.
Wolf: I am a man. There is no way around it. I could shave off my ample facial hair, conceal my musculature in loose-fitting garments, temper my at times arrogant posturing, resist making proud eye contact, and still I am incontrovertibly male. I am engaged in my maleness. I rise up from the depths of my maleness as the first creatures rose from the primordial seas. I am buffeted and driven by uniquely male hormones, a mortal sail filled with the masculine instincts of countless generations.
Long before both man and woman codeveloped language and culture, long before patriarchal civilization overtook the minds of the populace, there existed male energy inseparable from the flesh and intent of Mother Earth. It fueled and colored the lives of our male ancestors, from the first “Y” chromosome through reptilian and primate paramours, from my early Celt and Norse predecessors to my known relatives. I am of the planet. I am animal. I am mammal. I am man. Together these aspects of my identity form the context of my being. These are the “givens,” the corpus animus, the terrestrial/contextual/experiential basis and body from which I must work. There is nothing I can do that cannot be done by a woman, but I do it with a man’s body, out of the needs and calling of a man’s heart. I can make no apologies for my being, only for inappropriate or unjust actions.
Some consider men in general to be inherently dictatorial, insensitive and war loving. To the contrary, I believe the problem is not with the nature of masculinity, but men’s disenfranchisement from our natural maleness — a maleness that is as compassionate and protective as competitive and aggressive. As with all social and environmental disease, the cure likely lies in the reclamation of our essential beings, instead of in the suppression of intrinsic instincts, tendencies and urges. The solution for both genders would seem to be becoming ever more ourselves, not less so.
Kiva: Throughout my adolescence, I searched for a role model or an archetype to which I could relate. My search led me through the teen traps of anorexic pop divas and shallow cultural icons that left me with a feeling of lonely otherness. Just as my body refused to conform to artificial standards of size and shape, my personality resisted being reduced to a cliché — whether bad girl, romantic, sporty or city chic. Being a woman seemed to mean paring down or altering who I really was at the core.
The older I got, the more I realized how often we sell ourselves short by expressing only fragments of our authentic nature. This was especially evident in my mother, as she tried desperately to pretend she was only a mother and no longer the brilliant artist and musician. I saw her grow more bitter the longer she suppressed her passions and dreams, sure that being a mother somehow implied that she would be neglecting her womanly duty if she pursued her gifts while raising her children. I also watched my best friend turn off her heart and her feelings in order to further her career. She thought if she just worked a little harder, was promoted a few more times, she’d finally find the self-worth she’d been so urgently seeking — that she’d finally be equal to the men with whom she was competing tooth and nail. I remember her tearfully admitting to me that she deeply missed her husband, but that depending on a man was a form of weakness she could not allow herself. I promised myself that no single part or aspect of who I really am would ever overshadow or subsume the other.
What neither my mother nor my friend could see was that women are multifaceted whole beings, not one-dimensional paper dolls of mother, wife or career woman. I realized that I was not unfeminine in my adventurousness and tenacity, nor was I too feminine in my sentimentality and emotional nature — not unnatural but utterly natural, a unique expression of woman. I came to understand that all the roles and aspects I expressed were equally me, not disparate contending parts. Wearing a knife atop a lacy dress. Cuddling and playing with my infant daughter, while ready to fiercely defend myself and my loved ones. Nurturing delicate flowers from seed to blossom, yet capable of taking a life to provide our dinner. We are each strands and elements of the infinite expression of what it means to be woman and, at the same time, an alliance of many beautiful pieces coming together to make us who we really are, to make us most whole.
Wolf: There is an alternative male archetype to the Marlboro man, the stoic provider, the commander in chief willing to sacrifice any number of “his boys” to do what he thinks is right. That alternate is the ancient Green Man, forever linking men back to the raw, connective, vegetative, regenerative processes of nature. The Green Man is connected at the root to the source itself, tapping the rich nocturnal loam of a fermentive earthen heart. This icon of the masculine draws power from the maternity and mortality of Mother Earth, in cyclic reciprocity and carnal interpenetration. Simultaneously born of and lover of the Goddess/Earth, his distinctive maleness works in consort with essentially feminine forces.
The Green Man romped through Paleolithic imaginations long before being adapted to the role as a minor god of agriculture, the innocuous carved corners of church architecture serving as a subtle reminder of our pre-Christian pantheism. He evolved to become Bacchus in ancient Rome, Osiris in Egypt, Shiva in India and Dionysus in classical Greece. Along with his duties as spreader of seeds and guarantor of crops, he was the god of divine rapture, charged with the promulgation and sanctification of human ecstasy. He not only inseminated the wafting rows of plants but turned the grapes into wine, encouraging revelry to counter the increasing reticence and restraint of expanding civilization. In Mayan and Aztecan cultures he was called “the prince of flowers,” Xochipilli, instrumental in their initiation into the realms of embodied spirit, the leafen, vine-entwined corridors leading to their own wild and glorious beings.
With the Green Man we find a seminal and assertive, prolific and playful maleness. A natural maleness in balance with, in contract with, in coitus with the fermentive feminine, the archetypal Mother Earth from which it arose, and to which all returns. A male empowerment that complements and contributes to the expression of female power.
Kiva: In the haphazard sprawl of dandelion and the clinging beauty of ivy, I saw the face of the Green Woman. Just as the Green Man is the alternative to male cultural limitations and stereotypes, so the lesser-known Green Woman provides an empowering choice for women. As the feminine face of nature, she is best known as Sheela-Na-Gig, her delighted face and spread legs still adorning the stonework of many ancient churches in England and France. She can also be found crafted as a distinctly female body emerging from a tangle of vines and foliage. The image of the Green Woman and the history of the goddesses that embody her were my first glimpse at a powerful femaleness I could look to for inspiration in my quest for identity and place.
I found her everywhere I looked, not just in the wild places I hitched to and hiked in, but in the weeds erupting from sidewalk and roadside, in botanical gardens and city parks. I saw her when I gathered wild greens for my salad from abandoned ghetto lots and reveled in her beauty from under the oaks lining suburban streets. Part of the power of the Green Woman is in the way she adapts and thrives in even the most unlikely places, teaching us how to best remain our own essential selves, even when we feel out of place or oppressed by pressure to conform to what passes for “normalcy”.
The Green Woman is fecund creation, the inspirited source and conduit of life, but she is also the disruptive force of the hurricane. She is not just one aspect of destruction or creativity but many, sometimes embodying seeming contradictions in a single place and moment in the same way that dying, decaying plant matter is also new life in the form of vibrantly healthy soil.
The Green Woman’s complex and constantly evolving nature provides us with a positive and flexible way of seeing ourselves beyond the destructive or self-limiting perceptions we may have taken on over the years. Beyond the institutionalized virgin/whore syndrome, where every woman is either a devoted housewife and mother or else a home-wrecking rebel. Beyond even the more modern stereotypes of cold-blooded corporate-ladder climber or angry feminist. Past labels and into who we really are at our cores: the intrinsic magical beings that cannot be defined by personality quizzes, marital status or societal pigeonholes.
The Green Woman is as constantly changing as the seasons and as steady as the turning of the planet on its axis. She fosters delight and deep grief, fierce protection and unsurpassed tenderness. We, as women, embody all these aspects, in varying proportions through a myriad of expressions, as seen in classic goddess archetypes such as Artemis, an unclaimed woman and midwife; in the Norse hearth goddess Frigga’s deep devotion to home and children, with an unmatched wisdom that allowed her to guide family and followers; and in the Finnish bear goddess Mielikki, who roamed the far northern woodlands as a wild creature, fiercely loyal to both mate and home.
Wolf: Especially in the face of prevailing political and cultural trends, it’s important that men nourish the qualities of creativity, sensitivity, emotionality, gentleness and intuition ascribed to the “feminine side.” However, the very fact that they exist as aspects of a male body means they are as much masculine as they are feminine. Crying over sad songs, nuzzling small animals, tending to the needs of children, writing poetry or learning to make love ever so sweetly and slowly, doesn’t mean a man is getting in touch with his “inner woman”. Nor is a woman tapping any latent reservoirs of male energy when she exhibits the strength, confidence, purposefulness or drive regularly attributed to men. We all contain both male and female energies, but none of these are elements of gender so much as of character.
A man can and should feel comfortable staying home and caring for his children while his wife works to pay the bills, if it serves and satisfies him as well as benefits his family. Or making a living designing and sewing clothes, if he has the talent. And women have long proved they can both enjoy and excel at every career or task ever considered to be “men’s work.”
What we need to do, however, isn’t just to escape restrictive stereotypical gender roles, but to consciously and purposefully assume or even design and then manifest our roles in life. Those roles that best express, fulfill and satisfy our authentic selves: our talents, desires, gifts, hopes and dreams. And those that best help us contribute to, serve, nourish, heal or make more beautiful the world of which we’re an integral and dynamic part.
A Tewa prayer seems to say it all: Within and around the Earth, within and around the hills, within and around the mountain, your authority returns to you.
The authority to be yourself!
Kiva: These days I share responsibility for both our Plant Healer publications and our Anima Wilderness Sanctuary, deep in New Mexico’s Gila. I serve as both teacher and healer, two roles often thought of as predominately feminine in our culture. I became a teacher, however, not because I succumbed to familial pressure or societal standards but because I discovered through experimentation and study that this was the path that best suits me, that I feel most whole in pursuing. Embracing femininity in any traditional sense took time for me to accept. I needed to separate myself from the dictates of society and the uniforms my family had thrust me into in order to know what it was to follow my heart.
We possess in our authentic selves the power to re-create our roles. We do this by creating new stories of self, weaving from the web of the world a new way of being and seeing — stretching past imagined limitations of self and gender into primal womanhood. This power is rooted not in disempowering or opposing men, but in our intrinsic uniqueness, the moon cycles of our body, and the dance of emotion and creation birthed from the first mother, our Earth. Gender is neither our cage nor husk. It can express the reality of who we choose to be, in whatever forms we choose, providing roles true to our genuine natures.
The first of the year is the time of quickly transitioning days, when the sap of the willows is drawn deep into their centers, ready to burst forth as new leaves in the spring. Here in the canyon where we live, it means quiet hours close to home, joining our other partner in preparing new lessons and curricula for the coming summer events at this sanctuary and teaching center. We find in the cycles of stillness and activity, assertiveness and vulnerability — in our loving relationship with each other and within our complex individual selves — an enlivening equipoise, a vital partnership and correspondence. The bloom, and the balance.
If I could tell you what it all means,
there would be no point in dancing it.
— Isadora Duncan
The following are some practical suggestions for re-envisioning our roles, then making our visions real in our lives:
• Be aware of when you are embodying your culture’s limited definition of masculinity or femininity, acting out old patterns or movie roles. There is nothing male about being unavailable, unemotional, domineering or violent. Nor is it specifically female to be sensitive, nurturing or obedient.
• Men can be more aware of when they’re suppressing their nature, strength or passion in order to appear less macho, and not be so afraid of being stereotyped that they become malleable when they need to be substantial and definitive, or submissive when the situation calls for assertiveness. Women can pay attention to when they are acting out societal preferences and fantasies, as well as when they are eschewing cooking or downplaying their femininity to avoid being negatively typecast as the helper or the helpless.
• Roles are relational commitments we make, needs we satisfy, purposes and missions we gladly fulfill, not uniforms we select and wear, obligations with which we’re saddled, or what we do at our jobs. Our “work” may be secretarial, our “role” cheering up the bored clerks or providing advice on personal matters.
• Redefine all your roles in terms of who you are and what your gift is, not which gender you happen to be. Wear the clothes, assignments, jobs that feel most like you. Then, to excel at your roles is to excel at being wholly, proactively yourself.
• You have only a finite number of waking hours in your mortal life. Reassess your priorities and chosen roles monthly, weekly or even daily.
• Pay attention to when something is a role and when it’s merely rote. One accomplishes something either way. The difference is our degree of awareness, our intention, how wholly we are utilized and stretched, how much meaning we invest, and the amount of satisfaction it brings us.
• If we are totally conscious and response-able, every moment will be a decisive moment for us, every act intentional and deliberate. And it is those deliberate acts that will then define our roles, instead of the other way around.
Whether female, male, or any of the infinite possible variations and combinations – be your genuine selves in life, filling your genuine purpose. Nothing else is fully living.
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THE ENCHANTED HEALER
A Guidebook for Finding Your True Medicine
Reflections by Melanie Pulla
Every once in awhile, you come across a book that resonates such truth that it compels you to pause and reevaluate your decisions; and then it inspires you to implement significant yet necessary changes in your life. Let me introduce you to Jesse Hardin’s The Enchanted Healer: treasure map to your soul’s desires, field guide for identifying your authentic self, and handbook for transmitting your message to the world – unadulterated.
When – not if – you read this book, prepare yourself for a journey that may take some time. Jesse Hardin’s The Enchanted Healer will accompany you along a quest that is equal parts educational, inspirational, and transformational. As your guide along this journey, Hardin reacquaints you with the enchanted world that is all around us: a world that appears mundane if only for our inability or unwillingness to tune into our senses and wake up to the present moment. He offers numerous strategies and practices for excavating the scripts that prevent us from fully embracing our authentic selves. He then helps us follow those breadcrumbs back to our wholeness. This is the truth-telling, paradigm-shifting, honesty-inducing book we’ve all been waiting for.
Awareness, Sensing, and Feeling
One of the key takeaways from this book is that Hardin reminds us about the importance of embracing the present moment and having a heightened awareness of our surroundings – a philosophy that is endorsed by numerous somatic therapies and spiritual traditions around the world. His application of these practices in the context of healing modalities offers a fresh perspective on why sharpening our sensory awareness is of utmost importance: “It is crucial for healers to not become complacent, inured, or for any reason get in the habit of feeling less and numbing out more. The efficacy of our lives and practices hinges on our sensitivities, our innate and developed senses, our ability to notice, feel and respond” (p. 83).
The Enchanted Healer is truly a guidebook; Hardin illustrates several techniques and practices that modern health practitioners can use to support their journeys back to mindfulness and awareness. These techniques are simple, but not necessarily easy, and Hardin’s teachings have a way of getting to the heart of everything you’ve been avoiding in a refreshingly disarming way. The work is clearly laid out, and the journey awaits; the only way out of the darkness is through the tunnel of transformation.
Healing, Re-patterning, and Conscious Creation
Healing the healer is an ambitious task, but Jesse Hardin’s The Enchanted Healer boldly embraces the challenge, and the result is quite remarkable. Even the seasoned self-help junkie will encounter new tools and techniques for the soulful introspection and mindful exploration of new terrain. These include such things as story, sexuality, totems, and sacred indulgence to name a few. A common thread connecting these various healing modalities is the importance of releasing limiting beliefs and re-patterning the stories we tell ourselves in order to activate meaningful changes in the world: “The effective healer will be the one who not only senses and comprehends who and what they are trying to help, the clients, medicines and the illnesses, but who also knows intimately the extent of their own healing knowledge and skills, the limits of their comprehension or abilities, their habits and filters, feelings and needs, motivations and style.” (p. 111) From this standpoint, anything is possible including the conscious creation of our selves, our communities, and our healing paradigms.
Metamorphosis, Transformation, and Embracing Your Authentic Self
One of the most poignant elements of this book is the soul-shaking contribution of Kiva Rose. Rose brings a raw authenticity as she shares her personal journey through the tunnel of metamorphosis and self-discovery. She notes, “If we are untrue to our own nature, we cheat both ourselves and those we seek to help. While adaptation to new circumstances can be not only necessary but commendable, it must not be at a cost to our integrity as medicine people and allies of the plants.” (p. 255) Her beautiful and moving prose effectively illustrates how going against the grain can be a powerful expression of love and creativity, especially when it reflects the true desires of your deepest self.
The Enchanted Healer is best read with your heart wide open, senses alert, and mind flexible enough to allow for changes to occur. This book invites your authentic self to play a central role in your work as a healer; work that matters because it offers a profound opportunity for you to share your deepest gifts with the world.
I found The Enchanted Healer to be a refreshing rule breaker and paradigm shifter, and arguably one of the most thorough guidebooks for transformation in the contemporary herb world. So consider this: are you ready for change and open to receiving transformation? If so, get your copy of this must-have book and embark upon your own journey towards finding your true medicine.
Now shipping. Order your copy of The Enchanted Healer through the Bookstore page at:
Mélanie Pulla is a visionary herbalist who studied plant medicine at CSHS and SWSBM, and then earned a BSc in Alternative Medicine from JSC. In 2009, She opened her first business: a health food boutique, apothecary, and juice bar. She’s a full-time mom who writes awesome articles, including for Plant Healer Magazine (http://www.PlantHealerMagazine.com) and the popular Herb Geek blog.
This review first appeared in Plant Healer’s free monthly Herbaria Newsletter, subscribe at www.PlantHealer.org
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Truth & Claims
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
The intense level of misinformation, paranoia and fear mongering in the news and social media leads me to want to rake away at least some of the B.S. that’s fast piling up in the stall. As usual, it’s not “all good,” as that modern saying goes, and there are definitely things to be concerned about if not prepared for. This Ebola outbreak is going to be yet another extremely tragic event, but it is not going to be the defining tragedy of our time. And tragic is the tendency to tell ourselves and others comforting lies, and our sometimes sad ability to believe them.
The Claim: I hear people saying Ebola isn’t going to be an issue in America because of our amazing health care system, and excellent personal hygiene… what’s the truth?
The Truth: That claim is nonsense for a number of reasons. Of course Ebola will become an increasing problem here as it will elsewhere in the world, and there could end up being cases in the hundreds or even thousands in this country before things stabilize.
Note that the United States health system is far less just, accessible, and effective than that of many countries around the world, including the impoverished and demonized nation of Cuba. The U.S. model has made possible a monopolistic pharmaceutical paradigm where drug reactions and physician error are the leading cause of deaths. And before we think of Americans as superior for being “cleaner” than the primitive Africans in the affected countries, we should note that it is partly the use of antimicrobial soaps, body products and bathroom cleaners in the homes and hospitals of “developed” countries that has brought about the many evolving new strains of antibiotic and chemical resistant pathogens.
Ebola is dangerous, and we can never be 100% safe from it. But then, so it is with the cars that nearly everyone here owns and uses. We are never secure from these multi-ton speeding vestibules or the sometimes entirely oblivious people who pilot them, and yet we regularly drive amongst them at high speeds. Ideally, we make sure that we’re actively aware and paying as much attention as we are capable of, wear a seat belt (if we can stand the constraint), and make certain that our brakes are in good working order, taking reasonable and prudent steps to improve our odds of avoiding a wreck… but without the reported rates of deadly car accidents and their technicolor horrors making us too obsessed and too afraid to get behind the wheel when needed.
The Claim: On the other hand, some say that this could be the outbreak that threatens the future survival all of humanity.
The Truth: Pathogenic microorganisms are indeed the greatest future threat to human civilization, and possibly to the survival of our species as well. Our exploitation and destruction of the natural environment affects our health and could eventually spell our extinction, but not for a very long time – and not before we have laid waste to the Earth’s ecosystems and killed off most of its complex life forms. Deadly confrontation – including between Moslem and non-Moslem populations – will continue to help define the human experience for so long as we walk this planet, and yet, even the bloodiest wars tend to reduce dangerously high world populations by only a relatively small amount, while being almost always followed by a huge spike in births.
That said, it is unlikely to be untreatable Ebola that impacts the average American’s family and lives, let along that brings down the human colossus.
Microorganisms are indeed a far more likely threat to one of two kinds:
1. Antibiotic resistant “super-bugs” resulting from contemporary dirtless, antiseptic lifestyles; the excessive prescribing of antibiotics for nearly every imaginable symptom; and the standard preventive (not curative) dosing of the farm animals most of us eat. If Ebola proves untreatable, at least this deadly disease was probably not a direct product of our negligence, stupidity and greed as in the case of the every more dangerous “super bugs” we as a society beget.
2. Genetically engineered microbes, engineered in labs either to deliberately create weaponized bacteria and viruses for military purposes, or else to study and perhaps predict their behavior, virulence, and possible adaptations. In either case, there is nothing science fiction about the scenario of a protocol not being followed, leading to a pathogens escape. Or of someone unleashing it either accidentally or deliberately, in the commission of a criminally or politically motivated act.
At this point, the odds are far more likely that you will die from one of the thousands of other known deadly diseases and conditions found in the doctors’ books, with cigarette and diet related diseases topping the list… not to mention workplace accidents and getting electrocuted in the tub.
The Claim: So if it’s not likely to be a huge threat to most Americans, there is nothing to fear.
The Truth: We don’t need to act out of fear in this life, but the truth is that there is always much to realistically be afraid of! We often use God, the promises of technology, the distraction of the superficial, or whistling in the dark, to reassure us or take our minds off of that which threatens us. Rather than walk around in constant (and consequently unhealthy) state of fear, creatures in the real, natural world, exist in a state of awareness, in a condition of constant assessment. Unlike us humans, they save their flight response for when trouble is nigh. They appear to have no time to give to distant or extrapolated dangers.
The Claim: But as some critics of modern civilization have said, this outbreak could expand to the point that it brings about the collapse of the established system.
The Truth: Outbreaks initially strengthen the system, as the population seeks to be made safe and secure.
The Claim: What if I say it’s all a hoax, perpetrated by the government?
The Truth: The real hoax is the entrenched idea that our government has our best interest in mind. As for Ebola, if you don’t believe that the problem is real, you could try volunteering at a rural African field hospital without a protective suit.
The Claim: Some say Ebola was actually released or spread by some government agency, in order to create conditions that would justify the declaration of martial law.
The Truth: The reality is that even the most oppressive or nefarious governments are still composed of human beings, who have will likely always prove to be far less effective at provoking and orchestrating events than they are at preparing to exploit events when they happen. The proponents of increased government supervision and control of the populous did not have to arrange for Al Qaida to bring down the Twin Towers in order to have the pretext they needed to gut the Bill of Rights, they only needed to seize the opportunity when events made Americans most insecure and anxious for security and protection.
Likewise, there is almost no chance that ours or any other government intentionally introduced this disease… but various governments including our own will most certainly take advantage of this situation and our fearful condition to sink its claws further into us. Quarantines, whether of individuals or an entire infected city, are the ultimate abridgment of civil rights and personal liberties, confinement enforced by either the police or the federal army. The scariest things about Ebola or any other disastrous epidemic, may be the increased control and oppression that such a situation makes possible and even acceptable.
The Claim: Then before we’re controlled, we just need to get the disease under control.
The Truth: In the truest sense, we don’t ever control disease. At best we avoid it, contain it, manage it, or contend with it and learn from it.
The Claim: I read on a Natural Health site that you won’t catch it, if you regularly eat your fruits and vegetables.
The Truth: Good nutrition is very important to a strong immune system and the overall ability to repel or heal from infections. Depending on our food to save us from all infections is foolhardy to say the least.
The Claim: There must be herbs that can arrest the progress of Ebola.
The Truth: At this point there is no known plant that can cure or halt Ebola. And the anxiousness to believe in undemonstrated cures is in itself unhealthy, diverting us from any realistic measures that we might be able to take to lessen the chances of contracting it, and distracting us from both our important tasks/roles and the enjoyment of each lived moment.
It’s also unreasonable to expect plants to literally “cure” of “fix” what’s wrong with us. The way herbs work is by aiding the bodies own attempts at self regulation and balance, through stimulation, relaxation, modulation, etc. Even when herbs are able to work visible wonders, they do so by initiating adjustments of our various bodily and healing processes, not by “battling” disease. The responsibility for our health should be borne on our own shoulders, and not be laid upon the slender shoulders of the plants. Herbs are allies that we can wisely involve in the work of helping our bodies to heal themselves, just one of many ways that we can tend ourselves as we assume/resume responsibility and make make the necessary efforts to take care of ourselves.
The Claim: What about the common assertion that no good can come from an outbreak like this, no matter what its cause?
The Truth: No disease, challenge or travail is without potential benefits. Whether or not we learn to treat or contain Ebola, it could be instrumental in exposing the lies of officials, exposing the lie that technology and science have the quick fix for all that ails us and our society. We can damn sure learn from it to reconsider the often harmful modern medical system, to question authority, be vigilant against this or any other outbreak being used to justify policies and laws that decrease our liberties and foster greater government monitoring and control of its citizens. We can – by understanding there are things outside of our control – reclaim some of the humility that enabled our ancient ancestors to function in this world without doing quite so much damage to it. Thanks to the issues the emergence of Ebola has raised, we have an opportunity to take further responsibility for our own health and well being, change how we look at the world and how we behave, alter our lifestyles and habits to better serve our fullest and wholest living.
And yes, Ebola – like any mortal threat – can be a valuable reminder of the finite nature of existence, or the preciousness of every second, and the value of our using those vital seconds to good things, beautiful things, loving things.
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Special Issue – Over 80 Pages Long!
The latest issue of Plant Healer’s Herbaria Newsletter is a rather crazy 82 pages long, almost triple the size of most monthly issues. Part of the reason for that is the bonus section featuring attendees’ stories of their experience at this year’s HerbFolk Gathering, a ton of colorful photos and tales to bring back memories for you who attended, and to share the good feelings with any readers who were unable to make it. The classes were life changing, we are told, and the Masquerade Ball enchanting, see for yourself….
The other reason for this issue’s unusual length, is that we promised to publish Rosemary Gladstar’s detailed updates on the fire cider issue, in support of the movement to protect our folk traditions and terms from being appropriated and monopolized by ambitious, self-serving companies. And the fact that we couldn’t stop from adding Juliet’s enticing article about making her special kind of fire cider, and then Melanie Pulla’s piece on The Enchantment blew us away and had to be included, then it seemed important to run Sam’s piece for intermediate students of herbalism on some of the more plentiful herbs of this continent, and then we couldn’t leave out bioregional herbalist Dara’s article and pics. Not to mention all the art and photos! Sheesh… So here is the October table of contents:
Jesse Wolf Hardin: The Healer’s Love
Dara Saville: Alum Root & S.W. Herbal Allies
Melanie Pulla: The Enchantment
Sam Coffman: Some Common Herbs of The U.S.
Rosemary Gladstar: Tradition Not Trademark – An Important Fire Cider Issue Update
Personal Stories of The 2014 HerbFolk Gathering & The Bigger Folk Herbal Mission
Juliet Blankespoor: Hibiscus Pomegranate Cheater Fire Cider Recipes
To subscribe to the complimentary monthly Herbaria Newsletter, simply go to the Plant Healer Website, then enter your name and email in the space for that at the far left of the screen.
Plant Healer’s Herbaria Newsletter is created to provide totally free content to the folk herbal tribe, many of whom cannot afford a subscription to Plant Healer Magazine or the other educational materials they need. It is also meant to be spread beyond the known herbal community, to folks just starting to get interested in plant medicine, to the doubters and detractors as well as the curious and hopeful. You can help with that mission, by submitting articles about what you know best to: PlantHealer@PlantHealer.org… and by liberally spreading this download link on your blogs, Facebook, and more:
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We woke up to a flash flood warning, never a surprise during the Southwest’s monsoon season, but perhaps a bit of wishful thinking given how dry things have been. The burned areas upriver from us are subject to erosion when we get the pinpoint microbursts this area is so famous for, but with the mountains no where’s near saturated, if they hit even a single ridge over it means the river will remain low enough to cross in a 4×4. We nonetheless took out much of what we need for putting on this week’s HerbFolk Gathering, so that if by chance we do have to hike and wade out, this time it will only be with a few things wrapped in plastic and held high above our heads. And if so, we will be ecstatic as always, at the exhilarating feel of the water, the veil of mists that hang like clinging children to the sacred Kachina cliffs towering above the river. And whether in a vehicle or on foot, we will look wistfully to the cottonwoods whose leaves have already begun to lighten in color, knowing that we may have already missed the falling of at least some of their leaves by the time we get back home. We will nod in the direction of the beaver dams, wondering where they might build next. And wistfully pass through the narrowing of the canyon that feels to nearly everyone like the opening or gate to the magic that is this place: the Anima Sanctuary. It is the edge, between the wild and the domestic, an edge we cross in one direction in order to affect our species and our world, and then cross again to return to our troth, our home, our venue of enchantment. There are other edges we all face, always the stage surprise and change, sometimes terrifying, often incredibly beautiful, a site for startlingly different blossoms… ever the chance for creative disruption and surprise.
Talk to you on the other side.
–Jesse Wolf Hardin
Now Available, Plant Healer’s Newest Book:
THE HEALING TERRAIN
Coming Home to Nature’s Medicine
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
with Kiva Rose, David Hoffman, Phyllis Light, Robin Rose Bennett, Juliet Blankespoor, & Dara Saville
Foreword by Judy Goldhaft (Planet Drum Foundation)
309 pages, 8.5×11” B&W Softcover – $29
Click here to Order: Healing Terrain Book
“Rightfully at the core of all Natural Healing is nature, from the herbs it provides to the positive healthful examples it offers. By deepening our conscious relationship with the land, we create the opportunities and conditions for increased sensual engagement and creature awareness, empowerment and self-authority, uninhibited pleasures and fun, and greater effectiveness at nearly everything we might try to do in life.” –Jesse Wolf Hardin
I’m excited to announce the release of the third book in our healing trilogy, “The Healing Terrain,” written with my partner Jesse Wolf and our Plant Healer allies Phyllis Light, David Hoffman, Juliet Blankespoor, Robin Rose Bennett and Dara Saville. I’ve watched for the past year as Wolf searched out the most amazing photographs and art, and placed them in the most visually pleasing ways, illustrating inspiring content about the art of wildcrafting and growing herbs, biorgional herbalism, plant natives and “invasives,” the healing powers of nature, becoming more native, rewilded and empowered as healers, and connecting with place. Those of you who know my personal story, know how crucial my canyon home and its native medicinal plants have been to the healing of my body, mind and spirit. Along with the other two titles in this trilogy (“The Plant Healer’s Path” and “The Enchanted Healer”), “The Healing Terrain” strives to provide insights and tools for your own deepening connection with the source of all medicine and healing: this living earth.
We’ve been blessed to have Forewords to our other books written by herbalists like Matthew Wood and Phyllis Light, but this time we reached out a little further, and are thankful to have one penned by Judy Goldhaft. Judy and her life partner Peter Berg have been two of the greatest influences on what we have come to know as “bioregionalism”: the practice and art of living sustainably in place. Back around the time the pioneering “Whole Earth Catalog” was featuring the first photo of our planet taken from outer space, San Francisco was coming alive with social and eco activism, and Judy was busy using dance and theater to raise consciousness and inspire change. From her work with the Diggers to directing the wonderful Planet Drum Foundation, she has lived a life and done the work that makes her the perfect person to introduce our book. Her complete Foreword follows, along with the table of contents. Your order will be shipped direct from our printer, CreateSpace, sparing us storage and shipping. Hope you love it!
Thank you. –Kiva Rose
Foreword to The Healing Terrain
by Judy Goldhaft
It’s always amazing to pick up a book and discover it is not the book you expected. Jesse Wolf Hardin said he had put together a book about using plants in healing and healing the places plants live. Sounded simple, interesting and very bioregional. But the book is a deeper more inclusive investigation than Jesse’s brief description. The book is a journey for those who have forgotten how important place is, and a handbook for developing an awareness to relate to a place while becoming a more balanced and whole person.
The Healing Terrain recognizes the importance of a life-place (bioregion) to our beings and our health. The book begins with a deep exhortation to the reader to discover his or her own place as the first step in healing oneself, becoming a healer or becoming a complete person. It challenges the reader to recognize their personal place and to refocus for a more meaningful life, and then provides the tools to do this. There are lists throughout the book to help actualize practical manifestations of the abstract ideas, helping the reader travel beyond the philosophical discussions of place and rootedness to actually experiencing and delighting in their bioregion.
The word bioregion represents a deceptively simple idea. The concept realigns priorities so humans are contained within the place (bioregion) — not governing or exploiting it. This simple notion opens up the possibility that the whole interdependent ecosystem could become the basis for a society’s decisions. This deeper understanding of a bioregional outlook is reflected in the importance that “Rights of Nature” are being given in South America. New social mores are emerging which are entwined with the natural world.
Living with the planet requires diversity, adaptability, creativity, and self-regulation. Within this book difficult questions are dissected, examined, and considered from a multitude of perspectives. There are bold in-depth discussions of the tangled questions about living with other species and the authors are fearless in considering all topics — including wildness, bodily functions and sex. The tone of the conversations is always balanced and inviting, never preachy or judgmental.
The voices in this book come from people who have been putting bioregional sensibilities in the center of their lives for years. The community presents a series of personal approaches to universal ideas. They are deeply rooted where they live and encourage you also to become aware of your bioregion, in a very deeply understanding way. They provide guidelines to reconnecting to the earth and personal heightened awareness while welcoming diversity and recognizing how difficult it is to do this. The two main voices balance and fulfill each other. Jesse Wolf speaks poetically yet in-depth about historic, social, scientific and political considerations and analysis; Kiva Rose weaves a fabric of personal experiences and direct observations that she shares openly with ingenuousness and heartfelt warmth. They provide different paths and explanations to access the information and heart of this work. From the section “The Healing Roots of Home”:
“On a practical level, to live bioregionally is to acknowledge and participate in the ecosystem we are a part of, rooted – in a very literal sense – in the land that we live on. What this means will vary according to the needs of the land in a particular area, whether it is establishing trees or restoring the soil… or simply helping maintain the diversity that already exists with careful harvesting practices and a prayerful attitude towards the spirit of the land.”
The book itself has been thoughtfully put together, its format a manifestation of the ideas being expressed. The pictures and quotations are intrinsic aspects of the book. Each reiterates the ideas and could be the subject for meditation or rumination. This collection of philosophizing, musings, experiences, graphics, epigrams, and quotations reinforce each other and produce a balanced whole. It doesn’t just encourage “a vital return to balance,” the book itself is a balance—of head and heart, scientific and experience, words and graphics — a truly accessible set of information on many levels.
The Healing Terrain is like a long love poem to a bioregion — water is treated as a lover, there is a love affair with the geology, plants are longtime companions, etc. Be prepared to fall in love.
Click here to Order: Healing Terrain Book
The Healing Terrain Contents
I. Nexus: Grounds For Healing
Jesse Wolf: The Journey Home: The Call to Stay & The Call to Roam
II. Rooting – Where We Are, & Where We Most Belong
Jesse Wolf: Tips For Cultivating Sense of Place
III. Grounding – A Geology of Place
Kiva Rose: The Weedwife – Coming Home, Weedy Ways
IV. Healing Waters – Sweet Medicine, Hydrotherapy & River Tales
Jesse Wolf: Creating an Organic Calendar
Kiva Rose: The Ripening Fruit – Living With The Seasons
V. Bioregions – Defining, Being Defined By & Drawing From
Dara Saville: Place-Based Herbalism – Practicing at The Crossroads of The Southwest
Kiva Rose: The Healing Roots of Home – My Journey Into Bioregional Herbalism
VI. The Landed Healer – Finding, Purchasing & Restoring Land
Jesse Wolf: 15 Tips For Wildlands Restoration
Jesse Wolf: Strategies For Land Protection
Kiva Rose: Reading The Leaves – Learning The Names & Ways of Plants
VII. Building a Relationship With a Plant
Juliet Blankespoor: Planning Your Healing Garden
Dara Saville: Gardening Natives – Reflecting the Wildlands in Your Medicine Garden
Kiva Rose: Deep As Root & Song – Wildcrafting
VIII. Plant Adventuring
Jesse Wolf: Herbaria: The Importance & Joy of Plant Collections
Kiva Rose: In The Pines – Pleasure & Healing From an Ancient Tree Ally
IX. In Balance – Invasive Species, Natives, Healing & Wholeness
Jesse Wolf: Guidelines & Reminders
Robin Rose Bennett: The Terrain of Home – The Healing Land, Commitments of Love
Kiva Rose: Sustainable Wildcrafting & Foraging – Tending The Wildest Garden
X. ReIndigination – The Necessity of Learning to Become Native Again
Phyllis Light: The Geography of Healing
XI. An Ecology of Healing – Treating The Body As An Ecosystem, & The Ecosystem As A Body
David Hoffman: Deep Ecology, Deep Healing – Herbalism’s Place In The Living Whole
Kiva Rose: The Cartography of The Heart – Finding The Road Home
XII. ReWilding – Unleashing The Wild Empowered Healer
Kiva Rose: Spiraling Deeper
XIII. The Blooming – Growing, Thriving, Spreading Our Seeds
Click here to Order: Healing Terrain Book
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A beautiful day to you! This monsoon morning it is misty damp, and the whole canyon sings with the memory of rain, blessed, beautiful rain!! How Rhiannon and I rejoiced as we transferred our first buckets of the season, running to and fro, soaked to the skin! Just in time, too, as our barrels were getting quite low.
Kiva drove us all out to the nearby Black River recently, what a lovely day we had together! Even with Rhiannon getting so grown up, what a blessing that she still loves to be tossed around in the water by all three of us, and enjoys splashing around. We harvested rose petals that were still in bloom, and a few spruce tips. We had a delightful picnic, too, with grape leaves, olive paste and homemade crackers, deviled eggs, and leftover pie! But thankfully we didn’t eat too much to dissuade us from going out to the Bear Wallow Cafe for fish & chips (and Mexican beers for me & Kiva ☺)
Our last homestead helper, Jason, did a ton of work getting brush cleared out in the three weeks he was here, and very much enjoyed learning some things about bread and woodstove cooking I love it when people can be so open minded and willing to learn and experience new things! Thanks to you Jason, for all your willingness, hard work, and needed help!
The Bee-Plant has shot up so fast, even before any rain, and I’ve been harvesting many leaves, drying some and probably eating at least as much as I’m managing to preserve! I’m the only one in the family who really likes it, so it always feels like a sweet indulgence to spend time harvesting it, watching the amazing parade of bees and butterflies of all shapes and sizes, from flower to flower. My favorite butterfly is one I don’t yet know the name of. It may actually be a moth, I always forget what makes them different! But it’s an orangey brown color, with the most incredibly patterned wings, and the edges of the wings are so dramatically curvy that they tend to appear a little ragged from a distance, at least to me. This particular butterfly (or “flutterbye”, as I like to think of them, especially if I’m not sure if they’re a moth or not) seems to have a stronger attraction to humans than many other species, and whenever I see her in the woods (it’s almost always on a particular stretch of the woods on my walk to the river, strangely!) I always feel very, well, accompanied.
I’ve been reading lots of John Muir, and some of his wonderful letters to Mrs. Ezra Carr, and a wonderful cookbook Irene lent to me, the Nourished Kitchen, and a 30 year old Paul Prudhomme classic Wolf just got me, “The Louisiana Kitchen”. Kiva got us a fun little book on sushi which makes me want to go fishing!, and Pati Jinich’s very inspiring book, Patis’ Mexican Table, full of homey Mexican-American cooking by a woman raised in Mexico City. I’ve also been revisiting Magnus Nilsson’s amazing book about the restaurant Faviken, a favorite one now for at least a few years. This 30 something year old chef runs a crazy restaurant out in the middle of nowhere, in a Swedish forest, where he hunts and fishes and sources almost all of his food locally, and cooks in an old log structure that must be very hard to heat in the often -30 F days of their very long winters. It has all been further inspiration to get my own cookbook written, hundreds of recipes I developed over the years in this wild canyon home. It’s hard to know where to cut it off, as there always seems to be just one more recipe that I have to write and include! Plan on me covering whole foods of all kinds, organized by the season. I’ve lately been making lots of cold meals full of fresh wild & domestic produce, summertime pies and other fun treats (see pics!) and lots of wonderful yogurt from the abundant milk we’ve been getting from Helen James’ goats (our nearest neighbor, a full two miles and seven river crossings away).
Wolf made a great painting to decorate a thank you present we gave to our dear Trail Boss, and it was fun to be able to show our appreciation for all the ways he’s become indispensable around here over the years. We don’t know what we would’ve done without him, especially lately with other helpers being gone and it seems like everything has been having technical difficulties all at once! Rhiannon and I have been having way too much fun slurping watermelons and going for walks to the beaver dam and playing epic Scrabble games! She’s been really into the BBC “Robin Hood” DVD series lately, and has been cosplaying as Maid Marian in between looking quite a bit more goth with the blue anime wig Wolf gave her recently!
Still unable to get food frozen in the “green” chest freezer we traded for, partly because of the higher ambient temperatures this time of year, but maybe due to needing a high elevation gas orifice which Kiva hasn’t had time to research and figure out yet. Anybody have any ideas? The new SunFrost solar powered fridge is finally all hooked up and working great, however. I have my own panels separate from the office/den power now, on racks that Rhiannon and I swivel several times a day towards the shifting sun. I’ve been enjoying SO MUCH having a reliable way to keep our food cold, without having to deal with all the hassles of messy and fast melting ice from town! Yay for the new continuing improvements, really making my life easier!
I have more WWOOF homestead helpers due next month, it will be great to have the assistance and new company again. Still no one picked to manage things, take care of firewood and tend the land, fingers crossed that we will be able to trade a lifetime home in this paradise for the loyalties of the right person or people.
Wolf and Kiva have been crazy busy with projects that all have deadlines about now, including finishing the next 270 pages long Plant Healer Magazine due out Sept. 1st. Final preparations for the upcoming HerbFolk Gathering we host in Arizona in September. Finishing the event book for this year, in time for the printer to get it printed. Finishing a Class Notes & Essays book for the attendees. Posting on the Medicine Woman Roots blog. Planning a new online herbal course. Putting the final touches on their latest book “The Healing Terrain” (with all kinds of stories from and about this wild sanctuary), you will be able to order yourself a copy in September. And releasing the August issue of our free newsletter for herbalists (Click Here To Download).
Wolf and Kiva are also writing regular posts about medicinal plants, nature and homesteading on the popular Mother Earth News Blog. You can do a search for their writings there, if interested. We are hoping that this becomes a way to reach folks who have never heard of what we teach and offer before, inspiring them to take responsibility for the important healing of our selves and this planet.
We celebrated Kiva’s birthday recently with a beautiful homemade cake that we made together, and she decorated, and a chanterelle cheese pie (with chanterelles that Kiva special ordered– they were soo amazing!!), and homemade orange blossom ice cream, which was soo yummy! We made her some lovely drawings and other handmade things and had fun doing our best to spoil her all day long! We all
pitched in and bought her a banjo for her birthday, and it’s amazing how fast she’s been picking it up! I can’t wait to sing with her! A big part of the reason she wanted to learn banjo was as a gift to me, which is so very very sweet I can’t hardly stand it!
Kiva’s sister Missy has been visiting for the past few days, and we’ve really enjoyed her! Missy’s husband offered to take care of their kids while she flew into New Mexico and explored our wilderness home. It has been great to get to know a sibling of Kiva’s who also survived and learned to flourish after suffering an abusive childhood. Missy is healing, and growing, and planning to live and garden on some land. We can’t wait to see the drawings she is making for us!
The mornings and evenings have been soooo beautiful, all the monsoon clouds lighting up in so many gorgeous shades of orange and pink and purple. Rhiannon and I have gone on a few trips up and down the river harvesting nettles, grape leaves, and currants, and we try to get out before the morning sun gets hot. Soon we’ll go and get more grape leaves and field mint and clover, and after all that, it’ll be time to get the epazote, and maybe some wild olives.
For now, I’m busy grabbing as much time as possible each day to enjoy the clouds and the light, and the rain, and the bees and the precious butterflies. And when I can tear myself away from all of that, I’m dancing in the kitchen as I cook, baking outside in La Cocina (my second, open-air kitchen), and piecing together the cookbook, plus taking lots of food pictures, and counting my blessings, every single day! I hope you will take time to count yours as well.
Have a great late Summer season, until we talk again!
Live Your Dream Now:
Setting An Example of Striving Instead of Resigning
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
Admittedly, it can prove unhealthy to stake one’s enjoyment and satisfaction on getting exactly what we want in life. Extreme examples of this could include finding no pleasure in a meal just because it didn’t come out perfect or lacked a coveted ingredient, if we’re miserable because we can’t be a famous singer even though we can’t hold a tune, or if we go decades without a loving partner simply because none meet some glorified image we’ve turned into an unattainable standard. It could cost us the food on our plates, to quit a boring but paying job to seek out a way to do what we love.
Far more prevalent and more insidious, however, is the human tendency to let a powerful dream die that might that have otherwise been realized… shortchanging a goal that might have been possible if only we believed sufficiently in its meaning and value, in ourselves, in the power of courageous impassioned effort and personal persistence, and in the magical alignment of circumstances that can result in the highly unlikely sometimes coming true. Far too often, we may find our greatest and longest lived dreams being dismissed by others as frivolous, impractical or out of reach. Judging by some of the reactions we get, you’d think that we’re supposed to be satisfied living lives that we neither dreamed of nor planned for, obeying rather than discerning and initiating, conforming in order to function as part of a machine, rationalizing our dissatisfaction, suppressing our wild desires and settling for less of what we need and desire most.
I can’t help but ache to this day, thinking about my own mother’s relentless desire to be an interior decorator, but never having the self confidence to act on it. I hurt, sensing the longing of all those who dearly wish they were someplace else, dreaming of opportunities in New York while failing to notice the pleasurable aspects of a Springfield or Tucson, or dreaming of settling in Alaska or Hawaii instead while thinking they’re settling for the state where they’re at. I am disquieted… by the quiet desperation of anyone who grew up hungering to be a writer or an artist, a dancer or a rodeo star and then opted for a safe career that actually holds no meaning for them. It’s sad when the impoverished fantasize about having electricity, so they can see at night to read. But it’s just as terrible when a person grows up wanting to live a life close to the land whether as field botanist or straw-hatted vegetable farmer, then ends up spending his or her adulthood commuting in a car, shuffling papers in an office or teaching plant curricula under a university’s flickering fluorescent lights.
What matters, is that whatever your most precious and significant dreams are, you keep them alive, doing all you can to bring them to fruition, feeding them, growing them, and most importantly living them! And this is true whether your dream is being a teacher or a researcher, a helpful healer or world changing revolutionary, a birth-tending midwife or family-tending housewife. Whether it involves soothing stillness or stimulating motion, traveling the wide world or leaning how to become a responsible native in a single special place. Remaking society, or devoted to making the most wondrous meals. It’s stultifying to slip into default mode, unquestioningly repeating old habits and patterns, meeting outside expectations without responding to inner wants, or an inner calling reflective of a larger purpose. There is more damage is done to one’s self and kids by resentful or unenthusiastic mothering than by turning children over for adoption, and every relationship we give to is improved as a result of our making sure our dreams are acted on instead of relegated or sacrificed for their sake. Little that’s inspired can be expected from jobs we stick with only because we were once trained for them. Yet at the same time, even the most uninspiring source of income can be devoted to enabling and funding our desires and dreams… if only we make it so!
It’s up to each generation to help the children to identify, define, develop, and then fully live their most meaningful dreams – those that define, excite and motivate them the most. We may not always share their hopes and aspirations, but we need to support their pursuit nonetheless. Some youngsters may want to finish college so they can qualify for a certain enticing career, others may end up leaving the university or the high paying job because they hunger for a simpler life back on the farm or ranch. Maybe their most fervent wish is to raise horses, work with the handicapped, or design gliders that soar effortlessly through the sky. But whatever it is they’re reaching out for, what helps most is to see the parents and adults around them stretching at the same time. We’re the best example for others not always when we’re doing the convenient or practical thing, but when we’re demonstrating the kind of determination it takes to really pursue a vision. We probably all wish the young’ns we know will be able to make their dreams come true… and one of the best ways we can help with that, is to show them that we’re fully given to our dreams, too.
Give yourself to that important cause that needs your dedication. Don’t let any obstacles stand in the way, push forward and watch for every opening. If you get fired from work, it could be the opportunity to create that innovative business you always wanted to. If they cut your hours, it’s more time to do the things you’ve so long been missing. It can require a failed relationship, for us to insist on a more healthy one the next time. Deep unhappiness with any aspect of our existence, can be our chance and our inspiration to change them. Being burdened with challenge, is our opportunity to insist and continue, persevere and prevail, exceed and excel. And it is the very difficulty and improbability of fulfilling our dreams that makes the our efforts in that direction so commendable, our results so prominent, and our satisfaction so profound.
Climb that mountain that you said you would one day. Pick up that musical instrument you hanker for, even if it might take years to get good at it. Move to that city you can’t stop thinking about. Go broke if you have to, buying and sailing that dream boat. Give your all to the difficult but purposeful task. Do what’s required to pay for and facilitate the projects and causes you most care about. Sign up for the important correspondence course that you’ve been afraid you don’t have enough time or talent for. Start that business or practice, organize that demonstration, stand up against that clear and grievous wrong. If you find yourself alone, hold out for a supportive mate. And however you envision your purpose – and whatever you imagine might bring you contentment – remember that it’s never too late.
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