Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Harvesting plants from outside the garden walls

A shamanic healer’s own hurt often gives her/him the power to heal and to work with spirits and to assist the healing of others. The healer seeks healing to model health and well being for clients. Oftentimes, these hurts are what hold us back from being the best version of ourselves, and can be not only physically debilitating, but mentally and emotionally so. Especially when they keep us from moving forward in our career and life path. Many plants we see every day can help us in this healing process.
Photo courtesy of PlantNet

In my pursuit of all things shamanic, I am learning about the multitude of medicinal plants I can see from my kitchen window, or sitting in my spice cabinet, that can heal quickly, safely and inexpensively. I recently discovered a phone app called PlantNet, sort of “Shazam” for plants, that allows me to take a picture and find the name of any plant in my backyard and then research it. This isn't the only app of its kind, in fact here are many other apps that do this. A full list can be found here.

Plantain - Photo courtesy of Wild Edibles
For instance, the common plantain (plantago major), not the banana-like plant but the herb, grows wild all over my backyard. It creeps up in sidewalks cracks, thriving in the most inhospitable conditions.  Plantain has several uses. It is an amazing healer and can stop the itching of mosquito bites or any rash.  Rip off a leaf, crush it and rub the liquid on your skin. The herb plantain is also great for stomach upset.  Native peoples used it for a lot of things. Wellness Mama, a site for which I am particularly fond, gives detailed instructions how to prepare and use this herb and many others.

Through a course called Secrets of the Ancient Healers, I discovered herbs from around the world, their medicinal uses and preparation.  For example, anti-inflammatories that I can easily find in my garden or spice cabinet include thyme and pumpkin. Antifungals include garlic, mint, pumpkin, and oregano.  Pumpkin and lavender are also used as antidepressants. Two tablespoons of dried, chopped basil with a ¼ cup of olive oil soothes sore muscles when applied topically.  

My favorite of the many recipes I've found in my investigations is an invigorating body scrub of old coffee grounds, bergamot oil and olive oil that fights cellulite and water retention, improves circulation and lymphatic flow, and smells and feels delicious.  
Image result for sweet summer corn
Photo courtesy of Simple Bites

Sweet summer corn has more health benefits than you could imagine.  The Secrets of the Ancient Healers course, which includes many videos of shamanic healers preparing and using the plant remedies, says that native peoples have long used corn as an anti-inflammatory, astringent and diuretic that treats ailments of the urinary tract, such as bladder infections and kidney troubles. It has even been used for hangovers, prostate health, liver ailments, lymphatic infections, bruising, skin conditions, arthritis, gout, bed-wetting, gonorrhea (holy cow) and diarrhea.  Who knew that the delicious stuff might aid your health in so many ways?

Coincidentally (oops there are no coincidences, refer to my blog in August), I recently met a gal named Heather Houskeeper, who wrote a book called “A Guide to the Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Finger Lakes Trail.”  I bought the book and started finding things like wild turnips and carrots in my backyard.  If you live within a certain area, Heather will set an appointment and come to your property to help you identify the herbs and plants available to you in the wild, although she declined to walk my entire 12 acres.  

I enjoyed learning about and using these plants, and intend to harvest more than just the regular vegetables I grow each year.  These herbs and plants have been here since we moved here five years ago but I have just awakened to their uses.  I guess, if I had to, I could stay at home and just graze my 12 acres along with my horse to not only survive, but be healthier to boot.

Photo courtesy of The Botanical Hiker
This set me pondering, have I missed anything else to which I should have paid attention? Do I have all the tools right here needed to live a good life? What else can I harvest from my land, my life and/or my relationships to help me in the future?    

To generalize a lesson from my discovery of the benefits of these plants that grow so close but which have been overlooked until now, I could say that life is like that, too.  The answers are just under our noses.  Even the negative “bad” stuff we experience is instructive, both physically and spiritually.  With that in mind, I am enjoying the continuing journey toward wellness, this foray into the use of medicinal herbs and plants being the latest installment. Stay tuned.  More to come.

To learn more about the physical and energetic healing inherent in our native plants, or to set up an herbal consult for your personal health concerns, contact our resident herbalist, Danielle Rose at

Vera Remes

Vera's Rave'n - The many aspects of Shamanism

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