Sunday, February 20, 2011

Holistic Mentorship Network

The Holistic Mentorship Network, founded by a lovely, forward-thinking soul named Linda, whose vision is "To support and strengthen the holistic profession".   All disciplines of holistic healers are welcomed and encouraged to participate in events, mentor new members and network to strengthen a common goal of providing holistic healing to our communities.  Of course, the HMN mission statement says it so much more succinctly and concisely than I:

To create a unified community of compassionate holistic practitioners that will contribute to enhancing our profession, and ourselves, by providing a supportive space to share, learn, teach, grow and lead."

One glance at the practioner directory and you will see 87+ different healing modalities represented - all trained, certified or licensed practioners.

I mention this, because in fall of 2009, I spent a week studying with famed herbalist Rosemary Gladstar in E. Barre, VT.  In my class were several herbalists from the greater Montpelier area.  I was impressed with how they all worked together to build a more (w)holistic, self-supportive community.

Returning to NJ, I wanted to recreate that sense of commonality and rural support that I felt in Vermont.  I wasn't sure how to do that....   and then I stumbled onto HMN about six weeks later.  I cannot remember exactly how I discovered them - rather, it feels to me like the Holistic Mentorship Network found me!

If you are a holistic practioner, I urge you to check out the Holistic Mentorship Network at

(on a cyber housekeeping note:  I had spent about 60 mins crafting a carefully worded blog entry to post about the HMN.  There was apparently some 'hiccup' in cyberspace because when I hit 'Publish' my original draft copy is what posted instead, and my finished, polished, final edition vanished into the electronic ether.  Note to SELF:  Remember to click "Save as Draft" often while creating any entry and/or copy the text before submitting.  You will save yourself from the mind-wrenching aggravation of trying to re-work, reword, recall and recapture the spirit of your original finished piece!  My most humble apologies as this entry pales from the original.  Grrrrrr.....)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Farms, Food and Family

On a sustainability note, today, I attended the local harvest event sponsored by the northern NJ convivium of Slow Food USA.  The theme was "Farms, Food and Family", and folks could purchase seasonal vegetables and fruit, grass-fed and finished beef and pork, poultry, eggs, cheese, breads, teas, and prepared foods from local growers and producers.  Additionally, there were some select, boutique vendors selling artisan chocolates for Valentine's Day (or as an indulgence for anyday!), and my friend, Anne, from Degage Gardens was offering organic eco-handcrafted herbal aromatherapy products for your Valentine.  Also featured were several local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms, so folks could learn how to purchase seasonal farm shares at Genesis Farm, Howling Wolf Farm, and Rogowski Farm. Arthur & Friends, an entrepreneurial training program for adults with disabilities, presented locally grown organic hydroponic greens for sale.

So what is Slow Food?  A little history about the movement:

Slow Food began in Italy by Carlo Petrini with the founding of its forerunner organization, Agricola, in 1986 to resist the opening of a McDonald's near the Spanish Steps in Rome. 

Slow Food is now an international movement.  Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem.  The movement has since expanded globally to over 100,000 members in 132 countries.  Its goal is to encourage sustainable foods and promote local small businesses, and is not generally a fan of the globalization of agricultural products.

Check out a convivium (local chapter) near YOU!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Celebrating the seasonal holiday of Imbolc/Candlemas

Generally occurring around February 1 and 2, this holiday is known by many names:  Candlemas, Imbolc, Brigit's Eve, Oimelc, La Fheile Brid, Lupercalia, St. Brigid's Day and many, many others.  This holiday is typically a celebration of Hope and the promise or forecasting of Spring:  the darkness of winter is retreating, the light is returning more and more each day, and the promise of spring is in the air.  (Ok, maybe not this year with the icy/snowy winter that has dumped snow on the northeast almost once a week!).
Traditionally, it was a time of forced fasting for indigenous peoples and clans on several continents because food stores were becoming scarce. 

It is also a time of purification, of physical and spiritual cleansing in preparation for the challenges as the new year unfolds.  In ancient times, the Greeks celebrated the Lesser Eleusian Mysteries at the end of January, commemorating the return of Persephone from the Underworld to her mother, Demeter.  In more agricultural Celtic communities, this was also the breeding season when ewes began to swell with new life - not unlike the earth herself will within the next six weeks.  The name, Imbolc, means "in the belly" referring specifically to the pregnant sheep.  Oimelc means "ewe's milk".  For other Celtic peoples of northern Europe, the holiday was sacred to Brigit (who may also be one and the same as St. Brigid in the Catholic tradition):  the triple goddess of poetry, inspiration, smithcraft and healing.  For the Romans, it was Lupercalia (actually Feb 15) since the month of February was regarded as a time for cleansing and purification.  For the Norse clans, it was the Feast of Vali, which is a solar festival celebrating the strengthening of the sun which begins to mark the end winter, and thus the survival of the communities in these northern, frosty lands.  For Christians, it became Candlemas -  the time when candles were blessed in the churches (note:  the feast of St. Blaise on Feb 3rd and the blessing of throats with two crossed candles).  For the paparazzi, it is Ground Hog Day - which is still another foreshadowing of whether spring will be "early" or still another six weeks away.  A seemingly common 'thread' throughout all of the above mentioned feasts/festivals are the symbols of hope, light, warmth, lambs, fertility and emerging new life as the first spring flowers prepare to push through the snow.

What has all this to do with herbs?  Consider the recurring theme above of cleansing and purification.  About this time of year, when many folks are beginning to feel cabin fever from being house-bound and long for the warmer days when they can begin spring house and yard cleaning, this is the perfect time to reflect on personal cleansing, such as cleaning up one's diet from recent holiday overindulgences.  Reducing sugar intake as well as carbs, and adding dark green leafy vegetables will go a long way in preparing for Spring.  Cleansing teas or tonics can also help the body eliminate stored wastes and toxins from holiday overeating. 

Consider this simple tea to help support the body systems while gently eliminating stored waste.  Always try to use organic ingredients!  These dried herbs can usually be found in your local health-food store. A part can be anything from a tablespoon to a cup - depending on how much you want to make.

1 part dandelion leaf (supports the kidneys and bladder)
1 part nettle leaf (builds the blood)
2 parts red clover (supports the lymph system)
1 part milky oats (supports the central nervous system)
2 parts hawthorn berry (nourishes the heart muscle and supports the circulatory system)
1/4 part ginger (is warming and gets the blood circulating)

Combine herbs and mix well. To make tea, use 2 teaspoons herb blend per cup of water. Steep for 5 to 7 minutes and strain. Drink up to 4 cups per day as a spring tonic.   Store any unused portion in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Note: Any remedies or information listed on this blog are from historical references and used for teaching/educational purposes only. The contents are not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe, cure or substitute consultation with a licensed health-care professional. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.