Friday, 14 September 2018

Medicine chest - wild lettuce (Lactuca spp.)

Whenever I try to write about wild lettuce (the various Lactuca species) I find myself getting all tangled up in myth-busting. There's a lot of b.s. questionable information floats around the interwebz when it comes to how and why and when to use wild lettuce, and while that may be true of most herbal medicines, I find it particularly annoying in this case. There's so much more to this plant than most people know! The preppers (and stoners) seem to have embraced wild lettuce in a big way and there are scads (scads, I tell you!) of youtube videos about it. And if anyone tends to be - shall we be charitable and say "shortsighted"? - about medicinal plants, it's your average youtube prepper (and stoner). There, I said it.

"Legal opium", they call it. Or they go the other way and call it a "wild edible". It's neither - and yet it's both, if you insist on using it that way. But there are better (legal) ways to get high - wild lettuce is definitely not a 'party drug'. And there are definitely tastier wild edible leafy greens!

In the interests of my sanity (and yours) I think I'll just draw a line under any discussion of its "popular" uses and have a go at telling you about how and why and when I've found it useful over the years. So useful, in fact, that I've come to consider it an essential part of my medicine chest. Remember, this is my experience, yours will probably be different according to metabolism and, as we will see, intention.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Stalking the wild grapes

Oh lordy I love fall, it can't come fast enough for me.

Summer this year - with its extreme heat and humidity but lack of rain (with the exception of those damaging storms) - sucked, to put it bluntly. But it did, at least, produce a bountiful crop of wild grapes. And apples.

And the rest of this post is on my other blog. It's a long 'un, so if your attention span is short, feel free to skip it. I'll have other, more succinct posts coming up here in the near future.

Or not. I haven't yet decided if this blog will live or die.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Wolf Medicine (Agrimony)

"Totem" animals - Wolf, Badger, Eagle, Rabbit, Mouse, Mole, Ant ..

Many of us - modern White folks - who have probably never met a wolf or badger or any other truly wild animal, let alone shared an environment with them all our lives, have nevertheless found ourselves drawn to the idea of Totem Animals as our companions and teachers. Never mind that our understanding of the true nature of these animals in the wild can only be, at best, on an intellectual level.

We seem to have a yearning. A longing. An ancestral memory of the time, many many generations ago, when our own forefathers and foremothers lived perhaps not so differently from the way that the Native peoples of North America were living when European explorers "discovered" them. After all, in the distant past, long, long before those explorers set out, even we Europeans were once "Native peoples" in our own lands. We once knew our own animals intimately - and they knew us. Do we not have the right to rekindle that old understanding that lies hidden in our genes?

Because this post fits into both categories - herbal medicine and spirit medicine - the rest of it can be found on my other blog, here

Thursday, 26 July 2018

The many moods of monarda (beebalm or bergamot mint)

(click to embiggen the pics please)

I can't think of another plant that has as many names hung on it as this one. But then again, it's a plant that has more uses than most, too, so I guess it's fitting enough. I like to call it "sweetleaf", most Canadians and British types call it bergamot mint, or just plain bergamot, Americans seem to call it bee balm .. which is confusing, since we Canadians sometimes call lemon balm bee balm .. see? It's crazy!

Monarda is in the mint family, but it's not a minty mint like spearmint or peppermint. While it shares the minty mints' nifty combination of heating/cooling sensations, it often has a spicy taste that is more akin to that other cousin in the mint family, oregano, and in some cases, monarda has a buttery feel to the leaves that as far as I know is all its own.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Take no prisoners

Ah, my faithful readers, your writer rages on. Against the machine, against its insidious tentacles that ensnare and enslave and pick our pockets and pick our souls to pieces like crows over a corpse. I rage against the insanity of our commodity culture, where we - our body parts and our sickness and our vulnerability - are one of the most profitable commodities of all.

To read the rest of this post, head on over to my new blog - The Angry Herbalist

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

The tribe

I'm supposed to be making strawberry jelly right now, from the berries we picked yesterday from our favourite "I don't spray" strawberry farmer's fields. I simmered them down - with some of last year's (frozen) apple peels and cores so I don't have to use commercial pectin - last night; the gorgeous red juices have dripped into a bowl and are waiting for me to get off my butt.

I also have to make a big batch of chilli, get that huge tray of chicken thighs in the fridge marinating for the chicken marbella .. oh, and I kinda have to make some extra bread to freeze, too. There's a heat wave coming our way in a few days; a week long, highs in the 100's, nobody-wants-to-cook-in-that-kind-of-weather heat wave. I have to get ready, or at least as ready as I can, with at least some pre-cooked meals. It's not like we have restaurants up here!

But what am I doing instead of all that? I'm contemplating making yet more coffee and thinking about tribes. Actually, I'm thinking about the tribe I know is out there but I'm unlikely to meet - my tribe. Those who, like me, don't see a mass of green when they see a forest or a meadow, they see individuals, they see 'the standing people', as the First Nations peoples call them.