Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tree Orienting: Bridging the Human and Botanical Worlds

I had met Jen Frey of Brigid's Way at this year's Mid-Atlantic Women's Herbal Conference in Kempton, PA that was held at the beginning of October.  She spoke about Tree Orienting, and it just completely resonated with me.  So, today I traveled all the way out to Lancaster, PA to participate in a Tree Orienting workshop that she was hosting. Tree Orienting originated as a collaboration between Damanhur, Italy and the Wisdom University in 2011.  From Damanhur's website:

Tree orientation is an initiative that Damanhur has proposed since 2011. The community participates in this project along with many friends worldwide, most of whom are part of the Popolo Spirituale, as part of the Global Tree Network. The purpose of Tree Orientation is to bring the human and plant worlds closer together, as they once were. 

Damanhur's Spiritual Vision gives great importance to communing with the physical and subtle forces of nature that are represented by plants and nature spirits. The trees are large, living antennas of our planet. On the Summer Solstice, the trees launch a signal into the cosmos about the health of our planet, and at the Winter Solstice, they receive a return signal. For many years, their message has been a cry of despair because humans are destroying nature. The community of Damanhur and the many supporters of this initiative around the globe have made a commitment to transform the cries of the trees into songs of joy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Four Benefits of Getting Back to Nature


From this informative article:

"Author Richard Lou, who published the bestseller “Last Child in the Woods,” wrote about what he called a “nature deficit disorder” in relation to children, but he ultimately became overwhelmed by adults with stories about their own disconnect.
He’s not the only one to come upon this realization. More and more people have noticed a disconnect, which is largely credited to a world that’s constantly surrounded by technology. While communication is easier than ever, the quality of that communication is rapidly decreasing, which is why many are looking to take a step back from technology and reconnect with nature. It’s a good idea for everyone, with numerous benefits, including the following." 

Read the whole article here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

"Symphony of the Soil" Movie!

THIS is an excellent documentary about the need to care for this vital natural resource. I've watched it several times this summer. Look for an upcoming Discussion and film viewing in our Samhain newsletter later this month. Green Blessings!


Read the full article here.   

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Keyhole Gardening

Recently, I learned about a relatively simple way to have a raised garden that combines recycling and composting and can be a boon to folks during summer droughts or those who live in arid climates since it requires less water!   From what I have read, they first appeared in Africa in areas with very little water and rather infertile soil.  Villagers used whatever materials they had access to, and the idea for this sustainable gardening style was born.

Since early in September, I have been collecting used bricks with the intent of re-purposing them into a 6' diameter keyhole garden in my backyard.  Based on an idea from fellow herbalist, Shelly Moore, I intend to create a separate keyhole garden for each body system, and plant the corresponding medicinal herbal allies accordingly.  Shelly has done this in her yard, and I totally loved the idea because it is not only a great way to add to my teaching gardens, it also reinforces to my students that many medicinal botanicals can be beneficial to several organs or body systems at the same time - so it can help when creating a client-specific triune formula.

Here is a link to HGTV's description of keyhole gardens:

Here is one 'blueprint' for a basic 6' diameter keyhole garden:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Earth Overshoot Day, 2014

Tomorrow is Earth Overshoot Day for 2014. Read more about it below, or on our website:


From the website:  Footprint Calculator"How much land area does it take to support YOUR lifestyle? Take this quiz to find out your Ecological Footprint, discover your biggest areas of resource consumption, and learn what you can do to tread more lightly on the earth"

Friday, July 25, 2014

12 Facts About Microwaves That Should Forever Terminate Their Use...

Gave up mine in the divorce and haven't missed it in 15 years! I avoid them like the plague, especially in office kitchenettes where I have repeatedly seen employees stand DIRECTLY in front of the microwave while they warm their food, ...and slowly cook their major internal organs from pelvis to sternum... 

Recycle it, folks!

by Marco Torres
Prevent Disease

Are microwaves a benign bastion of convenience or a sinister contributor to biological and nutritional damage? A growing percentage of people are now heeding the advice of holistic health experts and disposing of their microwaves due to the dangers of microwaved food. Regardless of where you stand, humans are the only animals on the planet who destroy the nutritional value of their food before eating it, and the use of microwaves is no exception.

Microwaves are a source of electromagnetic energy (a form of nonionizing form of radiation) electronically generated. When penetrating the aliments, they trigger an inner rotation of the water molecules inside the food. This rotation triggers a friction between the molecules and the result is a rapid growth in temperature.

Microwaves use super-fast particles to literally radiate the contents of water inside food and bring it to boil. Not only has microwave use been linked to causing infertility in men, but it also denatures many of the essential proteins in the food making them virtually indigestible.  

Read the whole article here:

Monday, June 9, 2014

Top Ways Mushrooms May Help Fight Cancer

The cure for cancer already exists. But it wasn't created in a lab, and it wasn't funded by pink-ribbon products or walkathons. It was created for free by Mother Nature, and it exists as a collection of literally thousands of powerful anti-cancer phytonutrients found in medicinal mushrooms.  Traditional Chinese Medicine has long understood the powerful healing properties of Shiitake, Maitake, Chaga and Reishi, to name just a few.  Read the links below to learn more.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Happy Birthday, Rachel Carson!

For those who are unaware, she is the Environmental Scientist and author of "Silent Spring" who first raised the clarion call in earnest about environmental toxins in the 1960's. She was way ahead of her time, and sadly, these toxins are what brought her to her grave. Her campaign to bring awareness to toxic dumping and polluting was nearly 50 years ago, and in those years, we have all been exposed to unimaginable combinations of environmental toxins, to say nothing about GMOs.

So, Here's to you, Rachel! You dared to speak out to protect humanity and our environment, and there are many of us who have willingly picked up that baton and continue to speak out and bring awareness to this vital issue.

Rachel Carson

American marine biologist and conservationist
Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist, author, and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.

Carson began her career as an aquatic biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, and became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Her widely praised 1951 bestseller The Sea Around Us won her a U.S. National Book Award, recognition as a gifted writer, and financial security. Her next book, The Edge of the Sea, and the reissued version of her first book, Under the Sea Wind, were also bestsellers. This sea trilogy explores the whole of ocean life from the shores to the depths.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Just Like a Tree

One of the other attendees at the Writing Workshop at Schiff Nature Preserve last Saturday graciously agreed to let me post one of her creations.  She created this poem in a 20-minute writing session, and it just captured my heart and reflects how we both feel about our noble tree friends.

Visit Treesa's website and see her other artistic work and creations:

Just Like a Tree

Who do you think you are pretending to be so not like me, Silly One.
Are we not both fibrous sinew wrapped in myelin sheath

Don’t we both stand just a little bit taller
When the sun summons us to look up

Don’t we both say, “Ahh” when cool waters
After a long, hot summer’s day swirl around our rooted toes

Do you not smile back at me when my petaled face giggles at you
When I poke out of my frosted jack-in-the-box

Don’t we both cry for silence
When chaos dizzies us with mayhem

Don’t we both want to be covered and protected from our vulnerable nakedness
When winter’s heavy hand strips our mask from its lodged grasp

Do you not like to bend and sway
When the winds of Spirit whisper in your ear
Beckoning you for one last dance before the music slips back into memory

Do you like it when the bird leaves its squashy mess on you?
No, me neither
And yet haven’t we both found a way to use it for good?

Do you see that our green eyes are shimmering together
As we stand smitten in fixed gaze

Do you like my newest garb
It’s kind of growing on me

Yes, we are nearly identical, you and me
However, you have two legs and I but one

You run and jump but I stand here
Waiting for you to return

Hurry back, I miss you

Saturday, April 5, 2014

For the Love of Trees...

I took a writing workshop with Kathy Kane, entitled Writing in the Woods.  If you have the opportunity to work with her, please DO!   In her workshop, we used this poem in one of the exercises.  I couldn't help but share it!

Stand still.  The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost.  Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes.  Listen.  It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost.  Stand still.  The forest know
Where you are.  You must let it find you.

An old Native American elder story rendered into modern English by  David Wagoner, in The Heart Aroused - Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America by David Whyte

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Chile Derails ‘Monsanto Law’ That Would Privatize Seeds

Reposted from:

Left: One of the delegations of social and environmental justice organizations that went to the Chilean parliament to lobby against the "Monsanto Law." / photo: Viviana Catrileo

SANTIAGO, Chile -- This month, rural women, indigenous communities, and farmers in Chile found themselves on the winning end of a long-fought battle against a bill that had come to be known by many in this country as simply, the “Monsanto Law.”

The bill, which would have given multinational agribusiness corporations the right to patent seeds they discover, develop or modify, was withdrawn by the Chilean government now controlled by newly elected members of the center-left coalition known as the New Majority, amid concerns that the law would bring harm to the country’s small and mid-sized farmers.

In making the announcement on March 17, new Secretary General Ximena Rincón pledged that the Chilean government will “analyze all that is known in our country and internationally about this issue in order to protect the rights of agricultural communities, small and medium-sized farmers, and the heritage of seeds in our country.”

Rincón has been a leading voice of opposition to the bill in the Chilean government, and part of a larger alliance of approximately fifteen organizations and elected officials across the country who have been lobbying and protesting its passage since the introduction of the bill four years ago.

“We reject this law because it is a threat to family farms and to biodiversity,” said Lucía Sepúlveda from the Alliance for a Better Quality of Life/Pesticide Action Network of Chile (RAP-AL Chile). Last August, her organization and thousands of other Chileans took to the streets of cities across the country in mass protests against the law.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Celebrating Vernal Equinox/Ostara!

Our current newsletter:

Celebrating Vernal Equinox/Ostara!

Welcome to our seasonal newsletter! 

"...  to me, a tree is more beautiful than a cathedral.
The tree is the kingdom of god on earth.  A tree is the pure land."
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

March:  Awakening, Beginning, Emergence...   Thawing from the bitter winter and unearthing ourselves from record snowfalls.  We watch expectantly as the snow slowly melts into the earth in a slow-motion disappearance:  tiny islands of snow surrounded by spreading patches of brown, winter-beaten grass.  Rich with water, soft muddy earth yields perceptibly beneath each tentative footstep.  The chirp and cadence of birds is noticeably louder, stronger, and more inviting - enticing us, teasing us, exerting that inner 'pull', that yearning to be outside again following one of the snowiest winters in recent memory. 

In this issue, we re-introduce the earth holiday of Ostara, also called Eostara or Eostre from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess of the same name.  The word for the Christian festival of Easter really refers back to this ancient goddess, and the eggs, bunnies and baby chicks that are featured so prominently in our culture's Easter celebrations are all Ostara fertility images.

However you choose to celebrate this holiday remember to be gentle with the earth and mindful of her limited resources.

Green Blessings!
Donna at Willow Moon Herbals

In this issue:

Celebrating Vernal Equinox/Ostara!

The vernal equinox celebrates the balance of light and dark, and is one of two days in the year when night and day are of equal length.  At this equinox, there is a shift that takes place as the 'earth' energy of winter gives way to the 'air' energy of Spring.  From the cold darkness of a thawing earth, sap begins to rise from the roots of trees, the winds begin to warm, and the sky is more full of our returning winged friends with their whirring and chirping filling our ears:  Air is spring's element, and links birds to our collective unconscious. 

Often, we don't realize how much we've missed the sound of birds all winter, until Spring brings their warbling back to us.  To honor the birds and the air element of spring, this would be a good time to clean the hair out of all the family's hairbrushes, and put it out for the birds to use for building their spring nests.   When you do this, send loving thoughts to the birds who are using your hair in the creation of their homes.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Global Food Toxicity: Myth or Fact?

I received this disturbing email today, and while I don't agree with everything that is stated, what bothers me the most is that many people will just shrug it off:

Health-conscious people have known for a long time that fast-food, prepared-food and processed foods are neither nutritious nor health-giving.  Monsanto and Big AG are NOT your friends, and round-up ready 'anything' doesn't belong anywhere near your plate, let alone your yard for your pets and kids to play on.

This blog post is not meant to instill fear, but to create anger - healthy anger - so that people wake up and take responsibility for their own health.  Medicinal botanicals, local wild edibles and growing our own fresh fruit and vegetables is one place to start.  The 'medicine of the people' is a vanishing reality:  100 years ago, most families knew at least 300-400 herbs, weeds, leaves, roots, seeds, shrubs and trees    ...and their medicinal and food uses in order to stay healthy.

Even in spite of 24"+ of chemical snow (also myth or fact?) on the ground, I INTEND to plant a garden again this year, and make it larger, if possible.  Use heirloom, heritage and organic seeds and plants ONLY!  Spring will be here in 4-1/2 weeks to northwest NJ, and wild edible greens begin appearing by early April. 

In April/May, we begin our outdoor Wild Edibles workshops.  Check our website and blog for a program near you in NJ/Northeast PA, or contact us directly for a personal or private weed-walk/herb-walk on your property or for your group, organization or club.  Email:

Knowledge is power, my friends.  And applied Knowledge is FREEDOM!
KNOW your wild edibles from their toxic look-alikes.

Namaste and Green Blessings!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Celebrating Imbolc!

Celebrating Imbolc/Candlemas!

Welcome to our seasonal newsletter! 

The northeast is again experiencing a rather snowy winter:  we are digging out from winter storm Maximus and the next one, Nika, is expected to arrive within 24 hours potentially adding an additional 6-8" to the 8.5" that we received Monday.   (I don't even want to mention the 24-30"+ that is forecast for this coming Sunday/Monday...)  As I put the finishing touches on this issue, the gorgeous new crescent moon is hovering in the western sky after a truly beautiful snowy day! 

Since October, we have been regularly visiting with our stone medicine wheel which is nestled at the entrance to one of the teaching gardens.  Our winter goal is to build a stronger relationship with the elemental realms.  At the end of October, it was the suggestion of Ilona Hress of Growing Consciousness that earth stewards created a stone medicine wheel outside in our yards to lend an air of calm since the last two October's each brought a severe, violent storm to the northeast.    At the request of the crystal realm, we left it in place for the winter months and now understand the needed support having just come through two of the most bitter cold spells in recent memory.    When we remember that we are all connected, and that what effects one aspect of nature impacts the whole fabric of our collective Oneness, we begin to see and understand our interrelatedness with new eyes.  

In this issue, we re-introduce the earth holiday of Imbolc/Candlemas:  (pronounced im-bolk) or Candlemas, Imbolg, Bride's day, Oimelc, and Brid's day is the second holiday on the wheel of the year occurring around February 1st or 2nd -- in the deepest, coldest heart of the winter.
  It is not a coincidence that Groundhog Day is placed over the top of this ancient Celtic feast, which is also known in the modern christian world at St. Brigid's Day.

The Feast of Brigid, a goddess associated with the fruit of the earth and the fire of the hearth.  A shrine to her was located in Kildare, where a holy well and eternal healing fire was kept by priestesses of this goddess.  Because country folk were slow to change their customs of worship, the Celtic Brigid was slowly subsumed into the church's canon of saints as Christianity spread throughout Europe.  Additionally, the life of a human Bridget was entwined with the mythos of the mother goddess, Brigit.  The mortal Bridget lived in the 5th century and consecrated her life to religion.  Bridget's emphasis on education, teaching, charity, creativity, poetry, smithcraft and healing were also the hallmarks of the mother goddess worshipped by the earlier Celts, thereby making the local country peasants more receptive to Christianity.

However you choose to celebrate this holiday remember to be gentle with the earth and mindful of her limited resources.

Green Blessings!
Donna at Willow Moon Herbals

In this issue:

Celebrating Imbolc/Candlemas!

Imbolc/Candlemas"In a season of dark and cold, let the Imbolg candles glow
Spark our hopes and warm the hearth,
and welcome light's return to Earth.

Beyond the darkness of winter, there is an oasis of light and warmth on the journey from solstice to spring.  Known as Candlemas, Imbolg, Brigantia, or Lupercalia, it is a hope-filled celebration held in early February to welcome the returning light and the promise of spring.  Candlemas sheds light on the origins, lore, and customs of this ancient holy day."  (from the back cover)

This is a wonderful book that can introduce you to the Feast of Flames.  By February 1st, the daylight has increased noticeably from the Winter Solstice which was only six weeks prior.   No matter what the groundhog says, Spring is only a mere six weeks from now.  Even though the festivities, lights and pagentry of the Yule Holidays is past, the winter doesn't have to look so bleak because the sun is strengthening, the days are lengthening and it is even a little easier to withstand the snowy-ness of February knowing that fairer weather IS only six weeks away.