Herbal Studies – Part 2 Further Study
You Can Have a Green Ally! by Susun S. Weed © 2004
Herbal medicine is people's medicine. So why don't more people use it? Because it can seem complicated and scary, for starters. That's the reason I urge you to use herbal medicine simply -- one herb at a time. And that's a good reason to have a green ally: one plant that teaches you the fundamental principals of herbal medicine.
Herbal medicine is spirit medicine as well as body medicine. Our green allies tend our souls along with our sores. So why don't more books and courses talk about plant spirits? Or, if they do, why do they divorce it from herbal medicine? Because it’s not something that is easily written or even talked about. You have to connect with the divas and fairies yourself. And that's a good reason to have a green ally: one plant that opens you and guides you into the realms of green blessings.
Herbal medicine is broad, deep, wide, timeless. It takes seven lifetimes to become an herbalist. Take the time this year to develop a relationship with one special plant: a green ally. How?
Choose a plant that grows very near to you. . . no more than a one-minute walk from your door. You don't need to know the name of the plant, or anything about it. You will be sitting with your plant every day, so, if possible, choose one that grows in a quiet and lovely place . . . in a pot on your balcony is just fine . . . in a park is great . . . so is an alley. . . or a backyard.
You can read about the plant you've chosen if you do know the name, but it isn't necessary. The point is to develop a special caring, nurturing, relationship with your green ally. The following six exercises can help you do this.
First green ally exercise: Sit and breathe with your green ally for 3-10 minutes a day. You breathe out and the plant breathes in; the plant breathes out and you breathe in.
Second green ally exercise: Make a detailed drawing of your green ally, as accurate as you can make it. Then do a soft-focus, impressionistic drawing of your green ally. When the weather is too inclement to breathe with your green ally, breathe with your green ally's picture.
Third green ally exercise: What part of your green ally is usually used? Are other parts helpful? Experiment by making several small tinctures, oils, and vinegars of the different parts of your plant. Ask to plant to help you discover new ways to use her.
Fourth green ally exercise: Observe the conditions that your green ally chooses to live in. Does your ally grow near to people (to be used) or far from them (to be left alone)? In a shady spot (cool) or a sunny one (warm)? In a wet area (moist) or an arid one (dry)? In rich soil or poor soil? Plants make alkaloids and glycosides in rich soils; resins and essential oils in poor soils.
Fifth green ally exercise: Write a story from the point of view of your green ally. Let your ally speak to you and through you. Listen for the voice of your ally in your dreams, in your day dreams, in your mind. Write down what she says.
If this is hard, try writing with a pen instead of on a computer; or try writing with your non-dominant hand. A warm-up exercise given to me by Jean Houston is to first write a page of praise of your ally, tell your ally how wonderful she is, and how much you like her.
Final green ally exercise: Introduce one or more friends to your green ally. Tell them what you know, what you feel, and what you think about your ally. If it is edible, feed them some.
You can read what she has to say about oatstraw here:
Aslo, the following: (http://susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/march04/anti-cancer.htm)
Nettles (Urtica dioica) is my favorite. The taste is deep green, same as the color. Richest in calcium, magnesium, manganese, chromium and zinc, it also contains a pretty full panoply of other minerals. Nettles is particularly restorative to the kidneys and adrenals, and the tissues of the blood vessels. It strengthens the liver and is considered an adaptogen for the immune system. This means it supports the immune system toward flexibility; many people with allergies find drinking nettle leaf infusion to be very helpful. In the summer, ice cold infusion is deeply satisfying to the thirst. My mother drinks it hot with milk and sugar, but she's of English descent, that's what she's used to. Some people like to add dried peppermint to nettle leaf infusion, perhaps a tablespoon per quart. One caveat on nettles; some people experience an increase in urine production, so don't drink too much at night at first.
Oatstraw (Avena sativa) is often quite deep gold in color, and tastes slightly sweet. The taste reminds people of straw, because that is what it is; one person I knew hated it because it reminded her of all the mornings she had to get up early to milk the cows. But mostly people like oatstraw right away. It is made from the dried stem, leaf and seeds, harvested and dried when the seeds are still soft, called "in milk". If you crush such a seed between your fingers, you get a milky residue. It's this milk that gives oatstraw its sweetness, so if the oatstraw you buy has absolutely no seeds, it will be less sweet. Oatstraw is richest in chromium, magnesium, silicon and calcium. It is considered widely to be very restorative to the nervous system in many general and specific ways. Its benefits are cumulative; with all herbal infusions we reap profound results over time.