Beauty Way – asking for help

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“You might worry that if you ask for help, you’ll never be able to pay the other person back. Our culture tends to see reciprocity is a quid pro quo. “You give to me, so I need to give back to you,” as opposed to “You give to me, and I commit to paying it forward.” Cultures before ours knew that when we know how to dance in the flow of giving and receiving, we weave strong webs in which our communities can flourish. When you gather people around you who have your back, it’s so much easier to be brave.”

– Katherine Golub

I want to speak to the beauty of tribe and asking for help. When shit hits the fan, who do you call on and who shows up? Make a list. These people are your tribe.

Who do you show up for when they call on you for support? Make a list.

Let the lists change and evolve, of course, but remember who’s really got your back.

This idea of who’s got my back came in last night when I finished my 100 outdoor farmers markets for the season. My loyal market staff loaded up the car with me, one last time until spring, and we hugged goodbye. I felt swarmed with gratitude for her help each week, rain or shine, muggy hot weather or below freezing. She was there, often with snacks for me and thoughtful gifts, like a fairy godmother. I never ever took her for granted. I always wanted to give her more ghee, more herbs, more money for her dedication.

When the giving and receiving flows effortlessly like this, I remember why I am here. The true kindness of humanity shines brighter than anything else. It’s such a gift to be part of this exchange of love and energy.

After the market, I came home, unloaded the car and my housemate had prepared us a salmon dinner. Because she wanted to. I didn’t ask her, she just felt the call to give. Why? Who cares! It’s love flowing from her hands.

Then, I bent over and my back went out. Now, on the floor moaning with a hot pad, my housemate offered to gently press my low back as I laid in child pose. Tears welled up. So much pain and so much love all at once. Isn’t this what the heart needs? To be held, especially in suffering?

Just in time to spend the next day hauling a 450 pound wood stove to my new house – and my back is shot. Yep. So, I rested, cried, felt frustrated, then asked for help. I had a few friends lined up to help me, but we didn’t have the proper equipment to load the stove. I called a friend at 8am. He said, “I’ll be there with ramps, a dolly and straps, Hannah. Just tell me when and where.”

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This new friend who I’d only met twice before, offered to take the whole day off from his work, drive two hours each way to help me.  The shame and disbelief rolled in like a tidal wave.

Do I deserve all this help on such short notice?

Am I worthy of all this support?

What did I do to deserve this?

When are they going to realize I’m not as nice as they think?

And, you’re probably thinking, what is his motive, what does he want from Hannah? Nothing. He would barely take any gas money, I had to force it into his hands.

Oh, sweet mind, please rest.

IMG_2348The more generosity I experience from others, the more I want to give generously. It’s a beautiful infinite circle of gifts. Such a blessing.

Of course fear creeps in at times and questions whether there will be enough, will I get my needs met, am I making the right choice? Generally, it’s just fear talking. Welcome fear. You have a place at my table, but you may not dominate the conversation, thank you.

When I listen to love and abundance, miraculous things happen. The biggest miracle that is only possible because of millions of tiny miracles is, I just bought my first house. I want to say “we” even though I’m the sole “title owner.” I want to say “we” because of the countless people, privileges and forces that are part of such a big life event.

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Buying house and land brings up a ton of emotions. First and foremost, I do not believe in “land ownership” or “private property.” I simply don’t think anyone owns land. The earth is wild and free. But, we live in a society that functions with “private property” being the foundation of reality, even when it is acquired by mass genocide (another thing I’m not supportive of).

Rather than fight this enormous systemic oversight made by most of humanity, I’ve decided that being a strong female homeowner with intentions of creating a sacred space encompassing gardens, healing, community building and giving back to the land is a good place to start. If anyone is going to own property, how about women, first nations people, people of color, LGBTQ people? Let’s put the “private property” into the hands of radical change-makers, please. After all, the revolution begins inside the walls of our homes.

I truly believe this land I am “purchasing” called me home. Last August, a few major things I thought I knew to be secure shifted out from under my feet – home, primary relationship, car. Some big root chakra stuff, right?! Instead of turning inside and giving up hope, I turned my palms open to face the mystery and said, “Where do you want me now, Spirit?” Because usually, when tectonic plates like these begin shifting, there is something much much bigger waiting on the other side. We just have to be open to receiving it.

Kaboom! Almost like a lightning bolt, I found myself making an offer on a house, buying a new car, deepening relationships with my tribe family, and sinking my roots deeper into the earth than ever before.

I considered other options rather than home-buying, questioning my desire to feel security with so much uncertainty. I considered putting everything in storage and buying a ticket to South America. I considered renting a room. My body told me neither of those options were going to bring me the level of growth I was ready for. It was time to plant my roots deeper into the beautiful soil on which I was born here in W. Mass.

IMG_2344When you’re in a time of big transition, ask your friends for help, and also ask the Universe, Spirit, Divine, God, whichever name you call the great mystery that flows around and through us. Just like your friends, it has your back, too. Do not give up on the great mystery. We all have ancestors, guides, plant and animal spirits pushing us closer to our divinity. They are waiting to be called in.

For me, that has been pouring water in my garden, sprinkling cornmeal, calling in the seven directions, offering tobacco smoke to the ancestors. Smoke carries our prayers out into the great mystery. Someone is always listening. I thank my Navajo and Ojibwe mentors for teaching me these ways of offering prayers to the Earth & Sky and who encouraged me to seek a home for my garden where I can really sink my roots deep this time. “It’s time for you to show up to your garden,” they said. “So, you may need to find that land, sweetie-pie.” 

Right after I signed the Purchase and Sale agreement, I went for a walk around a lake where I spent my childhood roaming in the woods. A bald eagle soared over my head, circling me for what felt like 20 minutes. If that isn’t a clear sign from my guides, I don’t know what is.

 

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 Mystic Mamma image

Thank you Eagle

 

Thank you Great Spirit

Thank you new friends

Thank you old friends

Thank you family

Thank you Grandma

Thank you Grandpa

Thank you Tulsi

Thank you Snake

Thank you death

Thank you rebirth

Thank you great mystery

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Thank you Frost Moon

Thank you Attorney

Thank you Social Media

Thank you hot cup of tea

Thank you sunrise in the east

Thank you teachers, mentors

Thank you fairy godmothers and godfathers

Thank you contractors and all your equipment

Thank you muscle, bone, and ligaments

Thank you diesel and gasoline

Thank you bank

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Thank you gardens

Thank you chickens

Thank you technology

Thank you body

Thank you clean water

Thank you butterfly

Thank you drum

Thank you winds of change

Thank you Pachamama

I give thanks from heart to all the millions of seen and unseen magical influences that make my life possible. I see the beauty in all of them, even the diesel and credit reports. Lastly, thank you, Mom, for my birth – for modeling power, strength, compassion, steadfast commitment to truth and love, always following your heart even when it feels scary.

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Honoring our Ancestors on Samhain

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I’ve never really felt connected to the trick or treat aspect of Halloween since being a kid when candy was the goal of knocking on peoples doors. I love that there is still one holiday celebrated which has the potential to meet your neighbors. What I woke up with today, though, is a call to honor my ancestors.

This is a challenging moment for me to connect with my ancestors in the aftermath of the murder of Jews in a Synagogue, including a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor. Many of my ancestors are Jews, including my Grandmother who is a Holocaust survivor from Poland.

I did not learn about the terrifying news via the media because, I admit, I do not watch or listen to the news. I’d rather learn about it from people directly so there is someone on the other line to express our emotions about the updates. I also easily become stressed, anxious and afraid when listening to the mainstream news channels.

I learned about this awful event in a dream early Monday morning. I woke with fear. I dreamed I was in a large hall with my village. We were in prayer and suddenly a smoke like gas began seeping into the hall through the ceilings. We ran and only a few escaped before the doors were locked. I broke through one of the doors as the last person out. I escaped the gas chamber.

I ran into the arms of my sisters and brothers. I wrapped a sheet around myself, covering any bare vulnerable skin exposed to the cold. An angry man found me and scolded me for escaping. I lied and told him I was not escaping, I belonged outside with my family. As I was lying to him, I felt terrible for not telling the truth. I do not like to lie. But, I knew my words were the only hope for protecting myself. I feared what would happen if I told him the truth. The truth that neither me or any of my people were meant to be gassed to death.

How often do we fear what will happen if we speak our truth?

My body and spirit knew what happened last Saturday night as Jews gathered in a temple to worship during the Sabbath, even though my mind had not yet learned of the news. My body knew.

How much information do our bodies carry that is connected to our ancestors? 

I received a call later that day from a friend who was checking in on me to see how I was given what had happened to my people, our people. This is a powerful action that should never be underestimated – call your friends and loved ones when anything happens that impacts their hearts. We have to check in with each other when scary events happen real time. We cannot forget how important it is to listen to oppressed groups.

I believe we are all in heart-ache and break given what is happening in our world. So, the simplest action we can take is to call one another and deeply listen to each other’s hearts and minds no matter what state we’re in. We need to feel safe to share whatever is ready to come out. We cannot hold it in or it will eat away our souls. The heart-break is an opportunity to let the light in, I’ve been told. It is an opportunity to let in those we trust to hold us in times of grief and pain.

My reaction to my friend’s call was first, numbness. I was not surprised given the turmoil in our country. I felt sadness, but also a feeling of…are those really my people? Am I really Jewish? Am I really connected to an oppressed group? Do I deserve this compassion from my friend? Should I pretend I am not Jewish now? Where can I hide?

I am Jewish. I am not hiding. I love my Jewish relatives. I love all my relations regardless of race, gender, sexual preferences, age, religion, culture. I love all my relations. We are one family.

What do I love about Jews?

We are powerful social justice activists who are not willing to give in to systems of oppression. We are fighting for what is right, for equal rights, for freedom of expression. We love delicious food and sharing it together!

Now is not the time to separate people based on their identities. Now is the time to unite together as one family rooted in love, compassion, and hope for the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. And, I believe your life will improve by getting closer to all oppressed groups, including Jews.

My Jewish heritage has inspired connection to the cycles of the moon and the seasons. Tonight at sundown begins Samhain, the Celtic harvest festival marking the beginning of winter, heading into the darkness. It is also nearing Dia del Muerto, the Day of the Dead, a time for honoring our ancestors, feeding them food, offering gifts and expressing our gratitude for all they have given to us. Remembering and rejoicing in our ancestors feeds them, which nourishes us because our ancestors are always guiding us.

I am grateful for my birth and all the ancestors who made it possible for me to be here now. Thank you for your wisdom even in the moments of deep suffering. I would not be here without you Grandmas and Grandpas. And, big thank you to my last living Grandparent who is 90 years old, a Holocaust survivor, living independently in her own home, was the first female President of her Synagogue, and generous beyond belief.  Thank you for teaching me to be courageous, trust my heart, not take any bullshit, and follow my dreams, Grandma.  I see you and I love you. Always.

-Hannah Lee Jacobson-Hardy (Given Name)

-Hashke Hasaan Ya Nimela Yenezbaa Yehatipa (Navajo Name)

-Sacred Goddess Rainbow Warrior Woman (Warrior Name)

-Chana (Hebrew Name)

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The Jewish Witch

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Metal: Lung / Large Intestine

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The beauty of the autumn up on the hill where the tall pines grow includes wild turkeys grazing in the pasture, the sunrising later in the morning at just the right angle to illuminate the golden trees, spider webs cast upon the branches, and squirrels climbing up the corn and sunflower stalks to strip what seeds are left. There is so much beauty during these changing times.

As each plant sets seed and slowly dies back to become compost, how can I release what is ready to die inside me? What burdens am I ready to lay down? What old stories am I ready to re-write? What will remain if I let go, truly let go of my grip on what I think is true? The power of really surrendering to the mystery is finding the hidden gems inside our hearts.

How can it be that there is so much beauty even in death?

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As I write, a spider walks across my laptop keyboard. I brush it away without even thinking, and it dies. My first thought is, “Ugh, I am so sorry Spider. How insensitive I am. With one brush of my finger you die. How unfair the world is. Death is not easy. This alive being is now a tiny ball next to me, unmoving. Oh, the grief. And it’s a tiny spider! Imagine how much un-felt grief resides inside each of us waiting to be released. This is what Fall, or Metal Time in Chinese Medicine is for – lay down your sorrows and give them back to the Earth where they can be held, transformed, so you can be free.

Metal Time can bring challenges, which are really opportunities to feel the grief of letting go. Metal is connected to the organs Lung (breath in the new) and Large Intestine (let go of the old). These two systems need attention during the fall so by the time winter arrives, we are not carrying excess grief, pain, ideas and feelings that are weighing on us. We want to go into winter feeling strong, supported and nourished, not depleted and run down. This is an important time to pause, tune into what else you can let go of and nourish your body.

IMG_2147Are there projects you’ve agreed to that don’t really fulfill you anymore? Are there relationships that you need to let go of? Are there spending patterns that keep you from saving up for the things you really want? Are there obligatory commitments that take more time than you want to give them? What would you do with your life if you didn’t compulsively schedule until the calendar is so full that the only thing remaining is time to brush your teeth and rush out the door?

If there’s a building feeling of resentment inside you now, this is helpful information. It may mean a boundary with others and/or yourself is being crossed. I’ll ask you again:

What can you let go of right now so you can fully step into the life you want to live?

Let the emotions flow. It can be scary to admit to ourselves that we’ve taken on too much. Listen to your heart during this time. Trust yourself. Those voices telling you that the only way you will be loved is if you stay busy, show up, rush around, finish deadlines on time, and never disappoint anyone is exactly what discompassionate capitalism wants you to hear.

So, will you listen to your heart or a societal message that gives out stamps of approval?

Large Intestine is the system that lets go of what our body doesn’t need after it has taken the nourishment from food. Sometimes, I say, “I am going to large intestine my closet today.” Or, “I am going to large intestine my kitchen cabinets.” It’s the act of sorting (small intestine) and releasing (large intestine) what is bogging you down, taking up space, and not truly nourishing you anymore. If it’s not nourishment, why hold on? Large intestine is like the executioner saying, “begone!”

Lung is the system that takes in oxygen to feed the blood which gives us life. Lung needs space to breathe in new life, creative ideas, new plans, fresh ways of being. So, if we haven’t “large intestined” enough, lung doesn’t have the space it needs to expand. I’ll be direct here: can you imagine going for a hike or sitting on a meditation cushion paying attention to your breath while having to go poop? No fun!

Like spring, fall is a good time to do a cleanse and get your digestion flowing. If you feel stuck, constipated or bloated, this could be signals that you’re holding in emotions. In addition to dietary changes, be curious as to how emotions may be linked in with your colon.

Lung is about opening to the divine messages to behold the true essence of who you are on this planet. Expanding into your divinity for simply being born. Do you ever feel like you’re holding your breath or breathing shallowly? Pay attention to your breath! Taking deep breaths calms the nervous system, brings oxygen to the brain, increases blood circulation, and slows the monkey mind.

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Lung is about taking up the space you deserve as a human being. Your birth and existence are miracles. If you feel the need to prove yourself, let that story go! You are enough just be being here. So breathe deep and call in what you really want. Find peace with what is already here now that large intestine has let go of what no longer serves. Great peace resides in the lungs.

If you hold onto grief and carry it with you as we move into winter, lung imbalances such as upper respiratory infections, asthma, coughs, or bronchitis have more of a chance of showing up. So, find a safe place and person to feel your grief, sadness, anger, any and all emotions.

Crying is a way to squeeze out the pain and make space for love.

My dear teacher Darryl says when we pour water, we are making an offering. After a good cry, go outside and pour some water on the Earth so your tears can soak into the Earth. Your tears are prayers. They are like the water flowing into the roots of the plants, we need them to give life.

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The dying of anything or anyone has to be felt. We are humans with feelings for a reason. It is our responsibility to feel in a safe, healing way. Martin Prechtel, author of The Smell of Rain of Dust: Grief and Praise writes about how our tears of grief for the death of a loved one is our way of praising them for their time with us. The ancestors, the pets, the plants, our beloveds, they all need our tears. Our grief honors them with dignity. Even if you feel angry toward someone who has died, feel the anger! What is often underneath anger is deep grief. It’s all one – emotions are emotions, feel them.

You are not weak for feeling your emotions. Quite the opposite. You are so strong. What happens if we don’t feel the grief? Disease. Disease is the result of suppressing emotions.

Go where there is grief, for it is there where you’ll find the gold.

You are so brave and courageous.

Blessings for a healthy autumn

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Women & Rage: the Path to Peace

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We Moon Calendar 2019

 

The world would be a profoundly different place if women expressed their anger. 

Two months ago while attending a gathering there was a young woman who expressed how her throat feels closed down and her neck aches. She knew it was because of the anger she holds down like a corked bottle. It wants to explode, but she says to herself, “not right now.”

I had a vision while I was listening to her speak, so I shared it with her.

“Would you come over to my house and we’ll line the base of the barn with a tarp and throw glass?” I asked. This is not a typical invitation I give someone I hardly know, but it felt right so I went along with it.

The seed was planted in me and we set a date. I invited a few more women who had expressed at some point in the past they felt angry and didn’t know how to share it in a safe, accepting place. We were a small group of four on a full moon evening as the clouds swelled with rain.

We lit a fire outside. Each of us called in a direction: North, East, South, and West. Sage burned to ground our nervously shaking bodies. Intentions were set as we checked in about our relationship to anger –

  • where do we hold anger in our bodies?
  • what were we taught by our families and society about anger especially as women?
  • why are we scared to show anger?
  • who would we be if releasing anger was part of our lives on a regular basis?
  • what are we angry about?

The bottle pressure was rising by this point and we were ready to smash some glass! Our area was set up for each of us to take turns expressing in whatever ways we felt moved. No judgment zone. Only a strong container of powerful women who have each others backs and a willingness to get messy.

Instruments: sentimental glasses and dish ware that held energy we no longer wanted to carry, wine bottles, wooden sticks and pallets, glass windows, sledge hammer, leather gloves, and safety goggles. Check.

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This felt like unknown territory and my mind was racing with all kinds of ways to escape the moment. But, my body planted itself in the Earth saying, “Hell yes!”

What I witnessed and experienced brought me somewhere I’ve been before, but not in this lifetime. Watching each woman name all the times they’ve been, disrespected, put down, told to be nice, sexually and verbally assaulted invoked a level of trust and gratitude I did not know could be possible. Our rage actually made me feel more safe.

Her grief and anger was mine, too. Her power and strength smashing those pallets to smithereens was mine, too. Her humility was mine, too. Her shame of being seen in a female body was mine, too. Her unapologetic willingness to scream as loud as possible was mine, too. Her demand that the buck stops here, was mine, too.

What took place that night freed more people than just the four of us. Reverberations rippled into the past, present, and future.

I felt the cord of sexism cut from my womb that my Mother, Grandmother and her Mother and her Mother and her Mother dragged with her. I deliberately chose to release all shame, guilt, and obligations that take me out of my core. I am a human being with every right to be who I am. All of us are.

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Timely with the political bull-sh*t that is taking place right now. As women, children, fathers, and grandparents are being separated for purely racist beliefs, I feel we cannot afford to suppress our anger any longer. There is a lot to be angry about. When I feel helpless, disconnected and hopeless about making any change in the world, I remember that “my” work with “my” community is where I can make a real impact because it is not “I” and “my,” it is always “we” and “us.”

The mountains we moved in two hours that full moon night were not only moved for us, they were moved for everyone. What is possible when we all take a look at our anger and find ways to safely express it? I recommend finding the people you trust to do this work with. Set up your smashable altar, grab that sledge hammer, and get on your safety goggles. It’s time to rage, ya’ll!

IMG_1615We’re making the world a better place by expressing our anger together, in alignment with deepening connections, dismantling racism and sexism, and remembering who we truly are as human beings. Empowerment begins the moment we set free the ways we make ourselves small, hidden, and ashamed.

For more on shame and being brave, check out this book by Brene Brown.

After each woman raged, we placed our hands on her body as she lay on the Earth. Heart racing, breathing heavily, tears streaming, held by us in the circle of acceptance. Home again.

“I feel so much better now,” one said.

“I feel taller!” said another.

“I could not do this while meditating alone,” I said.

“This might have to be a regular full moon event,” we all agreed.

We gathered the well-chopped (!) fire wood from the tarp and gave it to the fire. Transforming the result of our anger into fire felt so natural. The swelling clouds released their rain onto us, showering our bodies with the Mother Earth’s tears. We sang a song and gave thanks for this moment to be alive. Then, we feasted and closed the night with homemade lavender blueberry chocolate cupcakes, which I’ll share the recipe momentarily because it’s delicious.

Thanks to the brave women who showed up to rage with me. You are my teachers. I see you, and I love you.

I want to note here that it can be useful to start doing this work with groups of your gender identity. I find that women’s work and men’s work, though similar and equally valuable, comes out differently in settings with the genders we identify with. The stuff women move when men are not present and vice versa can be a more safe container for some. I want to do this work with men present, too. But, I know that when it’s only women, I can access a part of myself that is not possible (yet) with men around. However you identify, regardless of gender binaries, find a space that feels safe for your journey.

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Solstice Rose Essences

Happy Summer Solstice!

Two years ago when I met my sweetie, Andrew, summer solstice has evolved into birthday celebrations, strawberry picking, and anniversary honoring. He’s a Solstice baby, born on the longest day of the year after 48 hours or labor – bless his mama!

I am filled with gratitude for his birth, our relationship’s birth, the blossoming flowers becoming fruit, and the peak of the summer solstice all culminating on this beautiful sunny day.

Our roses are in full bloom so I’ve decided to share this experience of making a flower essence and glycerite with you all.

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Flower essences bring me into the present moment immediately. They involve sitting with the flower in a clear glass bowl of spring water for 15-30 minutes on a sunny day. While meditating near the essence, I do my best to let go of the left brain’s attempts to figure anything out. Just be, breathe, and listen to the inner and outer world.

What are the birds singing about?

Is there wind?

Who are you, Rose?

What’s your medicine for today?

How is your body changing by simply sitting with an open mind and heart next to Rose?

This can be done with any flower or gem stone. I added a selenite crystal to the essence for reasons I don’t yet understand, but the selenite guided me to put it in there with Rose.

Little buddha baby wanted to join in the fun, too. It is no wonder that an hour later I was informed my dear friends had given birth to a baby boy while I was preparing this essence! Oh, the beauty of attunement to the oneness of everything.

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It’s truly a gift to slow down enough to hear what the plants and subtle energy spirits are saying to us.

I let the essence sit alone outside, where it’s never truly alone with of all the plants, insects and animals, but I give it space to absorb the beautiful energies of the land. It wanted to stay out all night, too, infused by the crescent moonlight and lightning bugs flickering magical wisdom. So I let it be.

My prayer is this Rose Selenite Essence will bring joy and compassion to all who encounter it – both in reading here and by taking it physically. All you need is 1-3 drops under the tongue to receive the affects of its subtle yet powerful medicine.

Your turn to make one!

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Send me an email if you want a bottle of Rose Selenite Essence or any others:

Daisy – heart opening pure bliss unafraid of being seen

Tulsi – embodied Queen & Wei Qi immune support

Lady’s Mantle – self-compassion during recovery from sexual trauma

Trillium – triad for Women’s womb healing

Buttercup –  nourishing confidence

Yarrow – boundaries with self & others

Elderflower – respect what is sacred especially our Elders

Vogesite & Rhodocrosite- balance the Feminine & Masculine energies

Emerald –  attracting abundance & financial stability

Calendula – radiant lion who dances inside the soul

Aster  – soft gentle awakening into your inner truth

 

Rose Glycerite Recipe

The gift of heart spirit support and emotional upliftment straight from the garden

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2 cups rose petals (wild rose, rosa rugosa or organically grown garden roses)

2 cups organic vegetable glycerine

1/3 cup spring water or distilled

1/4 cup brandy (optional)

Macerate the rose petals in a mason jar with the vegetable glycerine for 3-5 minutes. Add the water and mix well. Place in a double boiler on low heat to warm the mixture for 1-3 hours. While warming, place a lid over the jar without the screw top to keep the volatile oils and fragrances inside the jar. Remove from the double boiler, place wax paper between the lid and jar to prevent corrosion and screw on well. Shake vigorously until all the liquid coats the roses. Label with date, name, and where you found the roses. Let sit for 4-6 week on a shady shelf. Stain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth and pour into an amber bottle to keep light out.

Enjoy this heart nourishing treat mixed in fizzy drinks, herbal tea, or straight from the bottle! Lasts one year out of the fridge (if Brandy is added) or inside the fridge without an alcohol preservative. Great for kids, too!

 

Blessings on the Solstice,

Hannah

 

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Wild Spring Soup

One of my favorite ways to welcome in the spring is foraging for wild edibles. Having grown up in Western Massachusetts where I’ve apprenticed with foragers and herbalists, I feel confident in my identification of most wild foods and herbs. Although, I only eat what I find if I am 100% sure it is edible. Before making a meal out of anything, I suggest confirming with a local plant identifier, especially when it comes to mushrooms. Books can be helpful, but I never rely on them entirely. The best way to learn what to eat from your backyard is from the people who are well versed.

Two delicious and highly nutritious spring edibles are nettles and ramps (wild onions). Nettles are easily cultivatable by transplanting established clumps or starting from seed. They love to grow in old manure piles near horse barns because they are heavy feeders, which means they are also densely packed full of nutrition.

Nettles are one of the best ways to consume minerals and vitamins after a long winter without fresh greens. They are a mild diuretic which aid the kidneys in flushing out toxins from the body. I put nettle tincture in my Allergy Relief formulas for their anti-histamine properties. The stingers contain formic acid (same as red ant bites) which can be annoying to some, and cause more severe rashes for others depending on sensitivity.

I purposefully sting my wrists and other joints to promote blood circulation. For the past six years I have been stinging my right wrist, which has a ganglion cyst and I do not suffer from tightness or pain any more. It’s similar to bee sting therapy! Try a small section on yourself before going too wild.

You can use gloves to harvest stinging nettles, though I prefer to be gentle and take only the top 3-5 inches. The more mindful and careful I am, the less stings I receive.

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Remineralizing the body promotes strong healthy teeth, hair, skin, nails, and bones. Nettles is your ally here!

It’s so simple to make a mineral rich tea:

  1. Lightly pack a quart of half gallon mason jar with fresh nettles (fill 1/5 of the way if using dried).
  2. Pour boiling water over the leaves, cover, and let steep for 8 hours until cool. This long steep can be done overnight. Allowing the infusion to cool allows the minerals to be extracted. 
  3. Drink 2-3 cups of infused nettle tea for 3-6 weeks as a daily mineral rich tonic. Cheers to healthy bones and a healthy urinary system!

** Other spring tonic plants I suggest adding to this tea are: cleavers, chickweed, milky oat tops, raspberry leaf, and red clover.

Another way I enjoy nettles is in soups and stir-fries the same way you would use kale or spinach.

WILD SPRING SOUP

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Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves crushes and chopped (set aside for 5 min before adding)

2 carrots, chopped

4 potatoes, chopped

1/2 cup shiitake or oyster mushrooms (Fungi Ally in Hadley is awesome!)

1 TBL ghee (I like Full Moon Ghee, of course)

1 tsp. each of cumin, coriander, curry

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock 

1 can coconut milk

1 cup fresh nettles

1/2 cup fresh ramp (wild onion) leaves***

salt & pepper

Combine the veggies and ghee in a soup pot and cook until onions soften. Add spices and cook for 1 minute. Add stock, cover and bring to a boil. Let simmer until carrots and potatoes soften. Stir in coconut milk, nettles and ramps and let simmer on low 5 minutes. The stinger of nettles disappears once it hits hot liquids. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

This soup is delicious with a slice of home made or Hungry Ghost bread slathered with ghee, yum!

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home made sourdough bread made by Andrew

 

*** Ramps Disclaimer: whether foraging or purchasing at a local farmers market, NEVER EVER take the roots, only one leaf per plant. If the vendor has plants with the root in tact, kindly explain that ramps take 7 years to reproduce so leaving the root in the ground is crucial for sustaining the delicate populations. Buy the plants and re-plant them in a shady forest near a spring creek because they love growing near water.

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Spiral of Gift-giving and Receiving

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The level of generosity and kindness was truly astonishing while Andrew and I drove across the country. We were on the road for almost four weeks, and every person we stayed with along the way opened his/ her home and heart to us in ways I did not expect for such short visits.

We were showered with gifts, hearty meals, comfortable beds, and even a full tank of gas. I was given necklaces, pottery, tobacco seeds, a medicinal plant book written by a Laguna Pueblo woman, handmade bags, and paintings. None of these items I asked for, only given as a blessing for making the journey.

What I am now able to see is the infinite spiral of giving and receiving. What does it mean to truly receive? Similar to our digestive process of food, our bodies know how to assimilate nutrients and pass on the waste. The wisdom from Milk Thistle plant spirit captures it so well:

For me, really allowing myself to feel the blessings I was given on this journey means trusting that I am worthy of each gift. The moment I forget my true worthiness, I am not only bringing a dishonor to myself, but also to the giver. Breathing deeply while looking into the eyes of the giver and saying, “Thank you,” is creating space in my heart for the gift. And, the more I receive, naturally, the more I want to give. What if our world was built on this level of gift-giving and gift-receiving?

Particularly in Navajo Nation, I recognized a pattern of emptying our gift box to the many hosts along the trip, then filling it back up before our departure. Our box would never be empty. Loading the car up with even more gifts than when we arrived became tradition. It was not an expectation, it was a surprise.

One evening, after I handed a tin of home grown tobacco to the Laguna Pueblo Grandparents we were visiting, the Grandma turned around and brought back tobacco seeds in a small container.  “Here,” she said, “these are from our garden to yours. I hope they grow.” Tears formed on the edges of my eyelids like clouds swollen with rain, eager to water those seeds already.

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Hopi Blue Corn & Mohawk Tobacco from our garden – Sweetgrass and Creosote bush gifts

We brought our hosts, or relatives, as we began referring to each person,  ground Painted Mountain and Hopi Blue Corn from our garden in small pouches for prayer and offerings. I watched the Grandpa receive the corn by first blessing his own body. He held the pouch up to the sky and then the earth and then his heart, dabbing a taste on his finger, inviting the medicine to enter his body.  Grandma showed us her grinding stone, then they took us outside where Grandpa offered us a very large flat volcanic stone from the yard. “Here,” he said, “now you will have a stone to grind your corn.”

Grandpa goes on to tell us the stories of women singing songs while grinding corn for ceremonies. Tears welled up once again, reminding me of the dozens of stories Andrew tells about meeting relatives during his walk across America when he was 23-years-old. “It’s happening again,” he says, referring to the endless generosity washing over us.

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The next evening we had dinner with a father and son who met Andrew during his walk in 2012. Not only did they bring him a bag of Snickers bars and water bottles while he walked across the unforgiving desert, these relatives flew to California where they greeted him at the ocean upon completing the 4,000 mile journey. Then, they led a ceremony for him back on the East Coast at Andrew’s starting point to symbolize the entrance into manhood. They said, “When you walked through our land, we called you ‘boy who walks.’ Now, you have a new name, ‘man who walks for us.'”

Andrew hadn’t seen these uncles in six years. When we arrived to their home north of Window Rock, they wrapped a beautiful wool blanket around us, sprinkled corn pollen on our heads and pulled us in for a long hug. To be in honest, I was thinking, “Is this really happening, again?” Complete “strangers” just wrapped me in a blanket in a place I’ve never been before. I now know that family is every where. And we’re all just like corn pollen, floating through the wind, hoping to land somewhere full of love, generosity and kindness. The more we can receive the love, the more we can give others.

 

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