16. May 2013 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden Blog~Nettles:Wild Food, Good Medicine · Categories: Health and Healing, Plant Medicines, Yarrow's Garden Blog · Tags: , ,

The air is fresh with a hint of dampness. I can feel my lungs relax as I inhale the earthy richness of the wet soil. Rock outcroppings apron the open path. Occasional giant ponderosas offer shade, buffering, and the space for quiet solitude as I walk. Creekside sounds—the honking of geese, the chattering of mallards, and the flowing riffle of the creek itself, provide a soothing backdrop to my outing this morning. Around the bend and beneath a granite overhang, I begin my search for one of my favorite of spring tonic plants, Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica,, U. gracilis  or U. urens).

Nettles-Grape Creek 016Protected by the rocks and fed by their seeping rivulets of moisture, my search drops me to my knees for a closer look. Nestled within thick root structures of adjacent grasses and hugged by a carpet of moss, new nettle shoots emerge, beginning their upward journey to leaf, flower and fruit. In this radiantly cool shaded wetness, and among other thorny neighbors—shrubs of wild raspberry and gooseberry, the patches of nettles will soon offer their mineral rich wild selves as both food and medicine. Absorbed and contained within is their bountiful alchemy of earth and water, grounding and cooling. Within a matter of weeks these sprouts will form prickly spikes from three to six feet in height. The stems of nettles are square with opposite, lance-shaped leaves displaying broadly serrated edges. Stiff hairs appearing on the stems and paler undersides of the leaves create a formidable defense. When inadvertently touched, the hairs will eject a droplet of formic acid (ouch!), producing their painful sting and irritating skin reaction. While harvesting, wearing gloves is essential. Once the leaves have wilted the hairs lose their potency and plants can be handled without worry. To insure their optimal quality as food or medicine, plants are best harvested before flowering takes place. The flowers of the nettle plant are greenish in color and inconspicuous. Emerging from the leaf axils are gracefully flowing cascades of tiny blooms. The plants are dioiecious and wind pollinated, with separate plants having male and female flowers.

CBWF-2012 114Stinging nettles, a favorite old world springtime tonic, has received a lot of press and public attention lately. By some, it is considered an annoying weed; by others a valuable remedy for clearing body toxins and, most notably, for nourishing and restoring strength and vitality. By reputation, it’s a kind of “Geritol” of the plant kingdom. In today’s terms, it might be labeled a “superfood”. Recent media attention by Nicole Spiridakis of NPR (National Public Radio Archives, NETTLES BRING SPRING TO THE KITCHEN, April 17, 2013) featured a segment praising the benefits of this wild food and medicine as holding nature’s hidden secret of vitality.

As a wild food, nettle leaves are protein-rich (claims as high as 24%), containing iron, magnesium, potassium and many other trace minerals. Vitamin B, C, beta-carotene, chlorophyll, histamine and quercitin make it one of the most nutrient rich wild food herbs. The fresh wilted leaves can be steamed and eaten as a vegetable similar to spinach or added to soups and stews. Reports indicate that nettle leaves have more protein content than spinach. Nettles pesto is quite the treat!

As medicine, all parts of the stinging nettle plant, including the roots and seeds, have value. Dried, the leaves make a springtime infusion (tea) loaded with nourishment, with a pleasant, slightly sweet, slightly salty taste. I like to combine nettle leaf, red clover buds, alfalfa leaf and oatstraw in a springtime infusion, to awaken my system after the long months of winter hibernation, to strengthen and tone all body tissues and processes that require the presence of minerals for optimum functioning. The blood enriching nature of nettles is well known.

Energetically, stinging nettles is astringent, slightly diuretic, drying, cooling and somewhat stimulating. Its properties specialize in moving congestion and supporting the body in expelling damp and stagnant metabolic waste products; the functions of letting go and releasing. It is helpful in reducing inflammation and cleansing the system of unhealthy toxins that might show up as arthritis, gout or skin conditions such as eczema. The presence of histamine makes nettles a valuable ally for treating hay fever and other seasonal allergies. Nettles improves the body’s resistance to pollens, molds, and environmental pollutants. In traditional European bath houses, the intense practice of rubbing or slapping fresh nettle plants on painful arthritic joints [urtication] is not uncommon, and used to awaken circulation and the movement of energy by opening  blocked circulatory pathways.

CBWF-2012 115Seeds of stinging nettle can be harvested in mid-summer and are highly energizing and stimulating to the adrenals. Although considered an endocrine tonic, a note of caution is suggested to anyone who is already plagued with adrenal fatigue–nettle seeds are stimulating and thus could cause further adrenal depletion. The roots, harvested in the fall, are well known used in combination with Saw Palmetto berries in the treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BHP). Again, this is not a condition where self-medication is advised; but instead working with a capable and experienced herbalist or natural practitioner.

Europeans know of the benefits of the fibers found in the mature stalks of nettle. Many times stronger than cotton, nettle fiber was once used in a textile industry for making durable and luxuriously soft fabric;  also used traditionally in making cordage, fish netting and other durable fiber products. [Photo to the immediate upper left shows mature stinging nettle in bloom].

Reflecting on the habitat where nettle thrives, it is easily possible to see the connection with its usefulness in the human body. Its relationship with water is clear by the plant’s affinity to moist soil and flowing water. Its medicinal affinity for the kidneys, urinary bladder, lymphatics and other organs of detoxification and elimination is corollary; the cool, emotionally flowing, and watery spirit of the planet Venus. In the balance is its strong, sharp, upright and boundary-protective qualities, expressing the intense masculine qualities of the planet Mars. Nettles teaches the balance of power through love. Through its sting, it teaches us awareness through presence, and the importance of paying attention to our personal space and surroundings. It expresses a wildness, a character of flow and grace, the balance of mind and heart.

I will be returning to my favorite patch of nettles in another week or two to determine whether the time is right to ask nettles for its medicinal gifts for harvest. This kind of respect is certainly appropriate protocol for sharing in the benefits of this honorable healer.

PLEASE NOTE: Posts on Yarrow’s Garden Blog andThree Sisters Medicine are for inspirational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. Herbs are Medicine! Proceed with care. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment of serious medical conditions is inappropriate and unwise. If you have or suspect a medical condition, it is your responsibility to consult a medical practitioner for appropriate treatment.

THREE SISTERS APOTHECARY offers a variety of dry tea blends and tinctured formulations.Formulas are custom blended for your specific health and healing needs. Contact me at skyedarter@gmail.com or phone: 719.783.0465 to schedule an appointment.

14. April 2013 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden Blog~Healing with Willow · Categories: Yarrow's Garden Blog · Tags: , ,

salicaceae 034Ambling down the open, grassy, two-track toward the pond, my attention is drawn to the three resident Canada geese circling overhead, honking our arrival. At creekside, we are greeted by a wind break of scruffy, red-shafted shrubs. Seen against the backdrop of the greening Wet Mountain Valley and its snow-covered peaks, the overwhelming beauty of the surrounding marshland allows the tense discomfort of my body from the ever-increasing wind to slowly recede from my awareness. We are here to greet the willows and indeed they greet us, ready to share their wisdom and bounty. This moon cycle being called the “Willow Moon” by the Ancients has called me to their home under the guise of learning to weave a basket.

Considered sacred in the folklore of the earliest Americans, we indeed felt like we were on sacred ground. Willow is a member of the family Salicaceae (Willow), shared with the Aspen (Populus tremuloides) and the Cottonwood (Populus sp).  Ranging in elevation from 4,000-9,500 ft and up into the tundra, typically growing in belts of shrubby thickets, this species, the Coyote/Sandbar Willow (Salix exigua), was most revered for its usefulness in basketry as well as for its medicine. For our purposes, the best time to gather willows for weaving is now, before signs of new Spring growth become evident. IMG_4425Willows are deciduous and before long, at our elevation, will bud with long, slender leaves and flowering parts called catkins. As with other members of this family, willows have separate male and female plants, each with their characteristic flowering sexual morphology. Plants are either wind pollinated or depend upon the services of local pollinators.

As my fingers begin to interweave and shape the slender twigs I have selected, I drift between my present reality with teacher and companions into a place between time and space. I see myself, bone knife in hand, skinning the bark off the fresh willow stems, drying it, and simmering the plant material in an earthen vessel over an open fire, creating a strong tea brew. Early native peoples relied on willow for reducing fevers from all types of infections and sedating pain of various origins. A tea of the leaves is strongly emetic and was used as purification in preparation for certain sacred ceremonies.

Being cool, bitter, and slightly drying (astringing) in nature, the active constituents in Salicaceae bark are two prominent glycosides, namely salicin and populin, the earliest predecessors of present day aspirin. Contemporary herbal uses of willow bark include the treatment of inflamed joints, membranes, and irritated tissues, and for any condition with heavy or watery excretions of pus or mucous discharges. As a back country first aid, willow is an excellent choice, used topically as an antiseptic poultice for infected wounds, ulcerations, burns, swellings, and eczema, and accompanying pain, while promoting tissue repair. Native to North America is Black Willow (Salix nigra), while the more well known White Willow (Salix alba) is a European cousin. Colorado is host to many native willow species, all having more or less the same chemical constituents and properties. Willow seems to have an affinity for the uro-genital system and has been reportedly used successfully in the treatment of urinary tract infections, benign prostatic hypertrophy and bleeding uterine fibroids. As a tonic, willow bark tea can benefit digestion by stimulating digestive secretions and increasing the appetite. By sedating nervous irritability, willow is calming and can promote a restful sleep. For those on anti-coagulant therapy or sensitive to aspirin, willow bark medicine is contra-indicated.

Willow basket 001Replicating the famous work of Edward Bach, noted English physician, healing practitioners today have found the flower essence of Willow to be particularly useful for the stiff, dry and contracted personality type; one who is often resentful, inflexible, blaming and frequently bitter at one’s life situation. Willow brings to us the watery qualities of its growth habitat and surroundings, fostering acceptance and forgiveness, bringing a sense of gracious flow, resilience and inward mobility to the one in need of softening and yielding. Willow medicine helps humans flow in and out of life’s situations more effortlessly, interweaving ourselves within the community of other flowing and resilient beings.

Basket now completed, willow medicine resides within. May we all embrace with fluidity and resilience the healing wisdom of willow as we walk the sacred Path of Life.

Christina MacLeod, Westcliffe, Colorado,, April 14, 2013

********        ********        ********

PLEASE NOTE: Posts on Yarrow’s Garden Blog andThree Sisters Medicine are for inspirational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. Herbs are Medicine! Proceed with care. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment of serious medical conditions is inappropriate and unwise. If you have or suspect a medical condition, it is your responsibility to consult a medical practitioner for appropriate treatment.

THREE SISTERS APOTHECARY offers a variety of dry tea blends and tinctured formulations.Formulas are custom blended for your specific health and healing needs. Contact me at skyedarter@gmail.com or phone: 719.783.0465 to schedule an appointment.


01. April 2013 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden Blog~Remembering Rosemary · Categories: Yarrow's Garden Blog · Tags: , , ,


Lightly brush the leathery leaves of Rosemary and then bring your fingertips to your nose. At once, a rush of expansive “scent-sations” will flood your consciousness with your own presence. In this moment, your senses are awakened, your mind made clear. You are aware of your body, mind and Spirit, the whole package, interwoven as one being–YOU. This is the unforgettable experience of Rosemary.

Rosmarinus_officinalisRosemary is powerful medicine. Familiar to all of us as a well known culinary herb, Rosemary can take us far beyond taste to experience its essential nature. Its spicy, resinous flavor wakes up the circulation. Close your eyes and its aftertaste will transport you to the blazing heat of the sunny, dry Mediterranean coast. Go ahead, taste a fresh leaf!

Rosemary is a woody shrub of Mediterranean origin in the family Lamiaceae (mint), with square stems and bi-labiate lavender to blue flowers. The family itself contains many of the familiar aromatic herbs we use in the kitchen, as their volatile oils promote digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Early Roman, Arabic and Renaissance European physicians valued the medicines in the leaves and oil of Rosemary as some of the most potent and versatile in their plant pharmacopoeia.

In traditional western herbal medicine, Rosemary is a valued circulatory stimulant and restorative tonic, not only aiding the digestion of fats and starches, but also dispelling wind and cold, promoting bile flow, restoring the nervous and glandular systems, and reducing infection in order to promote tissue repair. Rosemary is well known as an anti-oxidant, promoting a healthy immune system and stimulating sharper brain functioning and memory.

In our high elevation Rocky Mountain habitat, Rosemary is considered a tender perennial. If you can adapt your growing zone enough to create a Mediterranean micro-climate, you might possibly get Rosemary to over-winter outdoors. Without a greenhouse, most of us here in Colorado will grow Rosemary in the potted protection of the warm indoors for winter’s duration. Given a sunny location and maintaining soil moisture, it may even bloom indoors. My preference is to let my Rosemary live permanently in a container, porting it outdoors in the summer, allowing its roots to remain undisturbed, and returning it indoors once again during the winter months.

Through its ability to promote movement and heat, Rosemary taken internally as a simple infusion (tea) or a more concentrated tincture, works as a heart, nervous system and lung restorative, to alleviate symptoms of fatigue, mental depression and low self esteem. In any circumstance that would benefit from increased blood flow, Rosemary can help. As a foot or full body bath Rosemary can relieve sore or tired muscles; used topically in a salve or linament it can rejuvenate skin elasticity and promote tissue repair. A Rosemary vinegar makes a lovely medicinal food atop a fresh green salad, or can be used as a hair or clarifying body rinse. The infused oil makes a warming massage preparation to increase circulation, promote detoxification, and moisten dry skin. A steam preparation of Rosemary using the essential oil opens the sinuses by breaking up the mucous congestion that interferes with clear breathing.

In both folklore and esoteric (Spirit) medicine, Rosemary symbolically holds the energies of remembrance, loyalty and friendship. Using fresh sprigs of Rosemary, today’s traditional Mayan healers work with the plant to clear the energy of the healer’s hut, and to prepare participants for entering the sacred ceremonial space of the Primicia. Fresh leaves are often placed on the patient during prayers for spiritual healing. The flower essence of Rosemary is strongly awakening, offering an invitation for the Spirit to seat more deeply within the physical body, and for one’s conscious awareness to become more clearly attuned with the present moment. The Light essence energy of Rosemary brings its uplifting qualities and cosmic warmth to those who need to experience a deeper and more radiant sense of Self. One of my closest Soul friends, Rosemary keeps me mindful, always reminding me to embrace ALL of who I am.

♣ Photo credits: Courtesy of THOR and Wikimedia Commons

Christina MacLeod, Westcliffe, Colorado, April 1, 2013

********        ********        ********

PLEASE NOTE: Posts on Three Sisters Medicine are for informational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. Herbs are Medicine! Proceed with care. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment of serious medical conditions is inappropriate and unwise. If you have or suspect a medical condition, it is your responsibility to consult a medical practitioner for appropriate treatment.

THREE SISTERS APOTHECARY offers a variety of dry tea blends and tinctured formulations.Formulas are custom blended for your specific health and healing needs. Contact me at skyedarter@gmail.com or phone: 719.783.0465 to schedule an appointment.

21. March 2013 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden~Comfrey:Strength and Resilience · Categories: Yarrow's Garden Blog · Tags: , , ,

Comfrey: Strength and Resilience~

As we swiftly move into the throws of Spring, I find my visitations to the medicine garden happening almost daily now. I admit, I am anxious to see the first sprouts emerge from the seeds I recently planted in my cold frames. But my curiousity has taken over as I get down on my hands and knees to search for even the tiniest speck of green emerging from my perennial friends. This morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see the return of the nettles, yarrow, motherwort, valerian, and comfrey; plants so hardy that even the deep winter nights of 28 degrees below zero could not dampen their determined life force.

Home-Texas Creek 004My introduction to comfrey and its powerful medicine came when I bought my first comfrey plant in Denver in about 1994. Deciding that the safest option for growing it, outside of a fenced-in garden, the comfrey was initially contained in a clay pot, while my herb garden was under construction. Soon after its arrival, I found the broken clay pot tipped upside down in the yard and my best friend’s dog happily chewing on the plant–right in front of my eyes! Jumping to its rescue, I was fortunate to find a small portion of leaf and root floating on the dog’s tongue, still intact! Gingerly, I removed the orphaned plant, and repotted it until I could permanently introduce it into its new medicine garden home later that summer. With the newly amended garden soil, moderate watering, mixed sun, protection from playful canines, and almost-daily visitations with words of encouragement and love, the comfrey grew to an amazing almost six feet in height by summer’s end! Now that’s life force–strength, resilience, and determination to thrive! Quite impressive.

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is a native to the cold climates of Europe and Asia. Along with its North American cousin, Hound’s Tongue (Cynoglossum officinale), often considered a noxious weed, these characteristically large, rough and hairy-leafed plants are members of the Boraginaceae (Borage) family. Comfrey is easy to grow in Colorado, best propagated through digging and dividing its roots by hand, and replanting. The plants prefer a rich loamy soil, mixed sun and part shade, and moderate water, but grow freely because of their strong vital energetics. Their tender leaves can be steamed and eaten as a green; both the leaves and roots having highly valuable medicinal properties. In a tea, the leaves are considered nutritive, rich in minerals, with emollient, nourishing, and astringent qualities. The bell-shaped magenta flowers, also edible, are characteristic of some of the plants in this family.

As far back as the Middle Ages, Comfrey was used as a healing herb to treat wounds and fractures by the armies of Alexander the Great. Particularly beneficial for muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bone, its main active ingredient, allantoin, works on a cellular level stimulating the repair and regeneration of torn, damaged or traumatized tissues.  Other plant constituents are B12, iron, potassium, calcium, amino acids, tannin, sterols and inulin. Taken internally as an infusion (tea) or topically as an ointment, salve or poultice, the leaves aid in reducing swelling and inflammation, staunching bleeding, and lessening the pain that comes with traumatic injuries; even burns. Its taste is sweet, cool, and moist. As a bath herb, a concentrated infusion may be made and added to the bath, to soothe and moisten the skin, bringing healing to eczema and burns, and reducing the pain of arthritis.

As a word of caution, Comfrey taken internally is best used for short periods of time (two- four weeks) only. The root especially is known to have slight levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are thought to create toxicity in the liver.  Also known as “knitbone”, Comfrey applied topically in either leaf or root form is totally safe and remarkably reliable in healing bone fractures, wounds and ulcers, traumatic contusions, burns, cuts, boils or abcesses; any skin damage that will benefit from healthy cellular proliferation. Digestive inflammations such as colitis and other types of ulceration may benefit from simple infusions of Comfrey tea taken several times per day.

Three Sisters Medicine makes a number of different salves for topical wound healing~~Seven Sisters Healing Salve, The Bees Knees, and Oh Be Joyful Healing Salve. They all contain substantial amounts of Comfrey leaf infused oil and beeswax provided by our resident beehives.

As a flower essence, Comfrey is both remedy and enhancer. It serves to bring life force energy to the nervous system that has been damaged by injury or weakened by stress. It also promotes the permanent healing of present life situations that have underlying roots and scars brought forward through ancestral inheritance or another lifetime.

Comfrey is truly an amazing healer and would be well suited to home use or first aid on the trail. Acquaint yourself with this Old World plant, that continues to offer its healing self through the centuries to the present time.

Christina MacLeod, Westcliffe, Colorado, March 21, 2013

**********         ***********

THREE SISTERS APOTHECARY offers a variety of dry tea blends and tinctured formulations for your Spring cleansing and detox program. Formulas can also be custom blended for your specific health needs. Contact me at skyedarter@gmail.com or phone: 719.783.0465 to schedule an appointment.

PLEASE NOTE: ~Herbs are Medicine!~ Proceed with caution. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment of serious medical conditions is inappropriate and unwise. If you have or suspect a medical condition, it is your responsibility to consult a medical practitioner for appropriate treatment.

04. March 2013 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden: The Gifts of Dandelion · Categories: Yarrow's Garden Blog · Tags: , , , ,

AN ANCIENT Chinese principle of health and longevity states that we humans have been given everything needed within our own local living area to be healthy and to thrive.DSCF0018

MANY of our early spring weeds, living just outside our back door, include the tender leaves of mustard, dock, wild lettuce, lambsquarters, and the ubiquitous dandelion~Taraxacum officinale. The young leaves are easy to pluck, rinse and throw into a salad bowl (provided your pet has not fertilized them or a neighbor hasn’t sprayed them).  Add some fresh herbs, your favorite raw vegetables, a little olive oil, lemon juice and voila! These early greens, all rich in micro-nutrients including vitamins A, B complex, and C, beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, copper, zinc and iron. Grown in a cold frame or greenhouse, dandelion greens can be available all year round.

IT is common knowledge that the dandelion, is both celebrated and despised. Being the plant lover that I am, I have grown to embrace the philosophy that “ [certain] weeds are my friends”. European immigrants considered the dandelion a most valuable plant and brought it to America from their homeland so that they could continue to benefit from its many gifts. A tea or tincture from its leaf and root is a balanced and nourishing spring tonic for the liver, kidney and bladder, helping to lighten our step into the coming warmer weather after several months of heavier winter eating and inactivity.

AS with many medicinal plants, all parts of dandelion are useful medicinal food. Energetically, the plant is considered bitter, sweet, salty and cold, with cleansing properties that support detoxification and reduction in many of the chronic inflammatory processes of the body. Prepared as a tea or tincture, dandelion leaf is known to be a natural diuretic in addition to its mineral richness. It is of renown in that its leaves replace both the potassium and sodium lost through fluids during urination or disease processes that cause dehydration, such as Crohn’s or IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Other properties of dandelion leaf include blood cleansing, digestive juice stimulation, mucous decongestion, anti-inflammatory, blood pressure regulating, anti-oxidant, laxative, and uric acid reducing effects. Use of the leaf is often suggested for anemia, fatigue, hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, and indigestion. For a more potent detox effect, juicing fresh dandelion plants can be quite an effective and concentrated liver medicine–proceed with caution!

DANDELION root is better suited for its ability to stimulate the liver and gallbladder in their many digestive and filtration processes. Stagnation is common after a winter of dietary over-indulgences, or indiscretionate use of alcohol or recreational drugs. The deeper tissues of the body can become overheated, tissue fluids thicken, becoming more viscous, and physiology generally slows down. A decoction or tincture of dandelion root will get things moving again, cooling the deeper aspects of the body, slowly cleansing built up congestion in the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas, and promoting the production and availability of bile to aid digestion. An excellent nutritional vinegar can be made with freshly chopped dandelion roots in apple cider vinegar. Fill a jar about 3/4 full of chopped roots and add enough apple cider vinegar to cover the plant material. Steep for at least 4 weeks. The vinegar (acetic acid) will pull out most of the minerals found in the fresh plant roots. A great blend with olive oil on salads or sprinkled on mixed sauteed or steamed greens. The deeper actions of dandelion root tea have been used to address allergies, osteo-arthritis, constipation, depression, fatigue, gallstones, high cholesterol, skin rashes, sinusitis, eczema, hypoglycemia, and generalized constitutional sluggishness.

ONE of the first signs of seasonal nectar flow and one of the honey bee’s first and most nutritious food sources of protein and carbohydrate after a long winter of inactivity are the nectar and pollen from the dandelion flower. Horses, too, love to nibble on dandelion flowers as they digestively transition from winter hay to summer grass feeding.

THE flower essence of dandelion addresses many of the emotional and spiritual tensions that accompany the  stresses of a challenging time in ones life. Dandelion speaks to times when we intensely over-strive or feel the need to push through a difficult situation; especially one that creates a tense jaw and tight musculature in the neck and shoulders (where we tend to carry emotional burdens). Dandelion teaches us how to slow down and reflect, soften our inner listening into a greater ease and balance, allowing warm and sunny energies to flow with more fluidity throughout the body. The resulting flow is followed by more available energy, a heightened sense of well being, greater mental clarity, and an ease and grace that tempers the earlier rigidity. ” Relax and release” is the mantra of dandelion. The liver truly welcomes this energy and attitude shift.

IT feels a bit silly to write about cultivating dandelions when they seem to be everywhere, but a bed of early French dandelions is fun and simple to grow, offering easy access to an organic, highly nutritive and delicious supply of greens. [Check out Horizon Herbs to order your own organic Dandelion seeds.] Picking a handful of the delightful flowers will control plants from going to seed and offers edible flowers for your salad, Sunday morning pancakes, or home made cookies (see recipe below). Dandelions are hearty, don’t need a lot of soil or moisture pampering, and will return year after year to grace your life with nourishment and good health. And don’t forget dandelion wine, easy to make and delicously nourishing–although can be quite high in alcohol content. And finally, all parts of the dandelion–except the seeds–contribute beneficial nourishment to any compost pile, enriching the nutrient content of the new soil being created.

SO, it’s time to lighten up. Spring is on its way. Bring it on! Open yourself to the gifts and many uses of this early spring weed. A daily dose of dandelion leaf and root tea, for the next week or two, will bring pep to your step and brighten your path into the Summer months ahead. And enjoy the recipe!


½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup honey (or ¼ cup each honey and maple syrup)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup dry oatmeal
½ cup fresh dandelion flowers

Blend oil, honey, eggs and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients and add flowers. Spoon batter on lightly oiled cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes. ♣

Christina MacLeod, Westcliffe, Colorado, March 4, 2013

THREE SISTERS APOTHECARY offers a variety of dry plant blends and tinctured formulations for your Spring cleansing and detox program. Formulas can also be custom blended for your specific health needs. Contact me at skyedarter@gmail.com or phone: 719.783.0465 to schedule an appointment.

PLEASE NOTE: ~Herbs are Medicine!~ Proceed with caution. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment of serious medical conditions is inappropriate and unwise. If you have or suspect a medical condition, it is your responsibility to consult a medical practitioner for appropriate treatment.

21. February 2013 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden:Feeling Our Oats! · Categories: Yarrow's Garden Blog · Tags: , ,

No one will deny that we’re living in challenging times in a difficult World.  And how do we hopefully find opportunity for self nurturance, personal quiet time, and creativity, while negotiating the changes that are coming with a new world order? Old ways are no longer reliable, old beliefs and habit patterns no longer predict outcomes or provide answers. At the end of a busy and fast-paced day, can we sit down, raise our feet and check in with ourselves?  Through creating spaciousness and perspective, we are able to find meaning, so needed in order to move gracefully forward.

A plant worth pondering is the most familiar oats, Avena sativa. Of European ancestry, oats is not only a breakfast porridge. Its milky seeds and straw have been relied upon for their healing and nourishing properties since olden times, especially for nervous exhaustion in its many forms. Accounts dating back to the Egyptians tell of their cultivating oats for both food and medicine.

In an overstimulated world. how do we nourish, nurture, and rejuvenate ourselves to not only survive but to thrive? A simple key for me is finding nourishment in the gifts of the plants. Preparing teas from these green healers allows us to stop and sit with a cup, infused with calm, presence, softness, spaciousness; creating moments of silence, increasing distance between thoughts, and offering new possibilities for inspiration, conscious awareness, and poise. In challenging times, or even coming out of a long, cold winter with a tired immune system, a tea or tincture will offer an opportunity to nourish the body, slow the mind, and allow our Spirit to claim its presence in our consciousness.  I usually mix oat straw with a few of my other favorites–red clover flowers, lavender buds, nettle leaf, alfalfa, rose petals and perhaps a pinch of chamomile. Within a few minutes of sipping, the fog begins to lift and I am able to reclaim my relationship with myself. My nervous system feels fed. The sweet, slightly viscous tea soothes my heightened emotions and reminds me to flow with life’s currents, rather than willfully pushing to reach a destination through engaged efforting.

So, what’s the difference between oat seed and oat straw? They both come from Avena sativa, but are harvested from different parts of the plant and at a specific time during the growing season. Avena is an introduced grain to the United States and non-native. In the Rocky Mountain west, Avena is an annual. It is easy to establish and requires full sun, good soil, and moderate moisture. For their medicine, the seeds are harvested fresh and early, in their juicy (“milky”) stage. The straw is cut and dried also at that time.

Avena can easily find itself in a home pharmacy as a tea beverage, a traditional alcohol tincture, a vinegar, in an ointment or salve, a body wash, compress or medicinal food. Oats are a whole body tonic, offering health and vitality to the nervous system, the skin and hair, and bones. For myself the tonic quality comes through my experience of deep calm, deep nourishment and the ability to embrace the more peaceful dimension of now. Nothing feels as important as taking in this moment, soothing Heart and Soul, with the gentle reminder that my value is in being, not in doing.

On a more esoteric note, the early 1900’s gave us an amazing British homeopath, Dr. Edward Bach, who studied the healing powers of 38 plants, prepared their medicines using a simple homeopathic method. He called these medicines flower remedies. Bach made personal observations of the personality type and behavior patterns matching each remedy. Of Wild Oat, Dr. Bach spoke of it as offering the essence of clarity and self-realization, restoring an inner sense of order, decisiveness, and direction with greater sense of meaning and purpose in life. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Wild Oat flower essence can be found in most health food stores as an ever-popular “Bach Flower Remedy”.

Christina MacLeod, Westcliffe, Colorado, February 21, 2013


28. January 2013 · Comments Off on Thoughts on Authenticity · Categories: Health and Healing, Wellness

By Christina MacLeod

What does it mean to be authentic? Authenticity is being real with yourself, telling yourself the truth through the lens of neutrality. It comes from a deep awareness of patterns, triggers, and emotional reactions to stimuli outside of ourselves and our spontaneous inner responses. Authenticity is acceptance of myself as I am, deeply knowing that I am so much more than my appearance, my perceived limitations, my lack of confidence, or even my process.  Looking into my own eyes reflected back and saying Yes! there is a raw honesty that comes with facing and holding every flaw, every limitation, without the need for pretense or other forms of hiding. The result is genuineness. People don’t always like or feel comfortable around the truth of others. It’s not always pretty or happy. The choice is a conscious one, to be real, un-adapted, un-defended. “What you see is what you get”, if you are ready to look deeply into the Spirit behind those eyes. True authenticity is being in the moment, with the desire and ability to meet life with whole-hearted spontaneity. What others think and feel or how they choose to respond to my authentic nature is their reaction. It’s not that I don’t care how people respond; it is, more importantly, that my behavior is not pre-planned to evoke a certain response, be it admiration, praise or any other means of unhealthy manipulated attraction. This can be a life’s work for many of us, who come from co-dependent roots, shame based family systems, or fall to the expectations of others who do not grasp or respect the relevance or importance of healthy, un-adapted boundaries.

When walking the path of authenticity, I believe it important to be vigilant, especially at the early stages of embracing this journey.  As a life choice, its core feels like honesty with self, acceptance of what is, and being out in the world in that way; determined not to fall into old patterns of right and wrong, finding fault, pretense, or making oneself better than or less than.  So, authenticity also involves equanimity, a sense of fairness and justice. Perception can be a tricky and illusive phenomenon. No one can be in another’s shoes. No two people see the world in exactly the same way. Authenticity implies a respect for one’s uniqueness and the uniqueness of others. With an authentic presence, discernment of fairness and equality is possible. I can then let go of the instances when I don’t feel heard or recognized or met. A subtle shift takes place in our attachment to what transpires in the outside world. There is a freedom, a carefree spirit that can relax and release into the perfection of any given moment, in the knowing that all is as it should be. A quiet recognition that joy comes from living that freedom, a meaningful knowing that we control the quality of our experiences with self and other.

Authenticity requires that both sides of the brain, the linear and the imaginative, join together in alchemical union, and then once interwoven, allowing greater trust in our perceptions. Then choosing our actions from that place of harmonious balance. Without self-knowledge and practice, authentically healthy ways of being in the world can be sabotaged by unknown, unidentified, and unmet needs. The goal then becomes using situations and others to gratify the self. The opportunity for clean, truthful and respectful relationships then slips out of our grasp into the realm of possibility instead of reality.

What I have been describing up to now is active authenticity, that is, us reaching out into our interactive world with others. There is also a type of receptive authenticity. In receptive mode, authenticity involves paying close attention to the details and feeling tones of our sense impressions, both inwardly and outwardly, actively and receptively, linearly, intuitively and metaphorically. Whether we are in meditation, chatting over coffee, or in the board room, the call is to engage the wise Self on all levels in perceiving the real information that is being communicated by another person, circumstance or phenomenon; truly seeing, hearing, recognizing and meeting Other. It might also be experienced as “reading between [or through] the lines”. This type of perception requires a neutral, open state of being, without pre-judgment (prejudice), expectation, or personal agenda. Genuine interpersonal engagement, whether through active expression or active listening, can only happen when there is freedom to be one’s true self in any given situation. Can we look into our own reflection or into the eyes of another and say Yes?

Westcliffe, Colorado, January 28, 2013

14. January 2013 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden Blog~Mugwort · Categories: Flower Essences, Health and Healing, Plant Medicines, Yarrow's Garden Blog

MUGWORT(Artemisia vulgaris)~

As I sit here sipping a cup of pleasantly sweet mugwort tea, I have begun to envision this century-old healing plant and its many uses throughout history. Its warm and comforting nature begins to pulse gently into my neck and shoulders, relaxing my solar plexus, and carrying me gently beyond the everyday doings of daily life. Slightly sweet, warming and stimulating, I can feel a gently energetic movement into my hands and feet and throughout my musculature. I notice also that my breathing has softened and relaxed.  The name Artemisia speaks in praise of the Moon Goddess, Artemis, ancient goddess of nature and patroness of women.  A restorative by nature, mugwort, is a soothing friend to today’s woman, caught up in the many roles of career, child rearing, managing home, a business or a family, with little time to spare for nurturing herself. Mugwort attends to those situations where women may have suffered abuse, been swallowed into poverty, or healing from a difficult pregnancy or abortion. Tending to withdraw, they suffer from depression or have otherwise insulated themselves from their own emotions. Mugwort helps to restore and soulfully heal the female nature.

artemisia-vulgaris-1Historically Artemisia has been used successfully for premenstrual symptoms, stimulating a sluggish menstruation, to speed labor, or to assist in expelling the placenta after birthing. It is typically the leaf and stem of the plant that are used as medicine, either fresh or dried.  In those cases it is taken as a tea or herbal bath. Mugwort oil can be used topically to massage the abdomen and uterus for alleviating stagnation and bloating typically associated with PMS, stimulating the movement of uterine release. An herbal compress may also be helpful. Topically in a salve, compress or wash mugwort can be used to treat rashes, itching, bruising and swelling, insect bites and boils. As a foot soak, it is both warming and soothing.

Mugwort has been used by the Chinese for centuries in tea formulations for prolonged menstrual bleeding, for a restless fetus, for threatened miscarriage, and any abdominal pain due to cold. These may seem contradictory; however, herbs can have different effects depending upon the dosage. The dry leaf can also be rolled by hand into a ball and placed and lighted atop acupuncture needles for warming and introducing “qi” into the body at specific acupuncture points. This technique is called moxibustion and is an excellent way to expel cold from the body..

Also called Cronewort, Artemesia is known to assist in regulating hormones and reducing hot flashes in menopausal women. It can be prepared as a tea or tincture for these purposes.  On a more esoteric level, an oil infusion of Cronewort can be used as a ceremonial anointment for scrying, visioning or active dreaming. As a tea or flower essence taken at bedtime, Mugwort can enhance vivid dreaming and dream recall. The plant is said to encourage and support intuition, creativity, and dream visioning.

Artemisia vulgaris is a member of the Sunflower family (Asteraceae). As shown in the photo, the leaf is deeply lobed, dark green on the upper surface and a silvery grey underneath. Stems are maroon, purple or brown. Plants can grow between 5-8 feet in height. Once established, mugwort requires little attention, average soil, and light to moderate water.

Originating in Asia and Mediterranean regions, Artemesia is not native to the Rocky Mountains, but is easy to cultivate here. A moderately organic sandy loam with no special soil amendment offers ample growth medium. Once established mugwort is a robust grower, seeds readily and can quickly become the center of attention if not managed. Its stems offer a colorful texture to the dormant winter garden.

Mugwort is available as a loose tea, tincture and infused oil through Three Sisters Apothecary.

NOTE: Photo compliments of PROTA4U.

Christina MacLeod, Westcliffe, Colorado, January 14, 2013

01. January 2013 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden~A Blog · Categories: Yarrow's Garden Blog

Hello and welcome to Yarrow’s Garden~A Blog. The purpose of this blog is to acquaint you with a wide array of both native and naturalized introduced plants known globally for their medicinal value. My monthly contributions will focus on those plants that occur naturally in the Rocky Mountain regions of North America or those that, with knowledge and patience, can be cultivated in the Western garden and grown as medicine for personal and family use. In addition to both folklore and science-based information, suggestions for garden cultivation, harvesting, medicinal preparation and contemporary uses will be included. **I would like to emphasize that, while common names may be mentioned, botanical nomenclature will be used, in order to ensure accurate identification of each plant being discussed as well as to reduce confusion or other difficulties caused by the use of local, folk or common plant names.

And may it always be understood that self medication is never a substitute

for professional medical care when necessary.

13. October 2012 · Comments Off on THE THREE SEEDS by Charles Eisenstein · Categories: Uncategorized

THE THREE SEEDS by Charles Eisenstein

Once upon a time, the tribe of humanity embarked upon a long journey called Separation. It was not a blunder as some – seeing its ravages upon the planet – might think. Nor was it a fall, nor an expression of some innate evil peculiar to the human species. It was a journey with a purpose: to experience the extremes of Separation, to develop the gifts that come in response to it, and to integrate all of that in a new age of Reunion.

But we knew at the outset that there was danger in this journey: that we might become lost in Separation and never come back. We might become so alienated from nature that we would destroy the very basis of life; we might become so separated from each other that our poor egos, left naked and terrified, would become incapable of rejoining the community of all being. In other words, we foresaw the crisis we face today.

That is why, thousands of years ago, we planted three seeds that would sprout at the time that our journey of Separation reached its extreme. Three seeds, three transmissions from the past to the future, three ways of preserving and transmitting the truth of the world, the self, and how to be human.

Imagine you were alive thirty thousand years ago, and had a vision of all that was to come: symbolic language, naming and labeling the world; agriculture, the domestication of the wild, dominion over other species and the land; the Machine, the mastery of natural forces; the forgetting of how beautiful and perfect the world is; the atomization of society; a world where humans fear even to drink of the streams and rivers, where we live among strangers and don’t know the people next door, where we kill across the planet with the touch of a button, where the seas turn black and the air burns our lungs, where we are so broken that we dare not remember that it isn’t supposed to be this way. Imagine you saw it all coming. How would you help people thirty thousand years thence? How would you send information, knowledge, aid over such a vast gulf of time? You see, this actually happened. That is how we came up with the three seeds.

The first seed was the wisdom lineages: lines of transmission going back thousands of years that have preserved and protected essential knowledge. From adept to disciple, in every part of the world, various wisdom traditions have passed down teachings in secret. Wisdom keepers, Sufis, Taoist wizards, Zen masters, mystics, gurus, and many others, hiding within each religion, kept the knowledge safe until the time when the world would be ready to reclaim it. That time is now, and they have done their job well. The time of secrets is over. Released too early, the knowledge was co-opted, abused, or usually just ignored. When we still had not covered the territory of Separation, when we still aspired to widening our conquest of nature, when the story of humanity’s Ascent was not yet complete, we weren’t ready to hear about union, connectedness, interdependency, inter-being-ness. We thought the answer was more control, more technology, more logic, a better-engineered society of rational ethics, more control over matter, nature, and human nature. But now the old paradigms are failing, and human consciousness has reached a degree of receptivity that allows this seed to spread across the earth. It has been released, and it is growing inside of us en masse.

The second seed was the sacred stories: myths, legends, fairy tales, folklore, and the perennial themes that keep reappearing in various guises throughout history. They have always been with us, so that however far we have wandered into the Labyrinth of Separation, we have always had a lifeline, however tenuous and tangled, to the truth. The stories nurture that tiny spark of memory within us that knows our origin and our destination. The ancients, knowing that the truth would be co-opted and distorted if left in explicit form, encoded it into stories. When we hear or read one of these stories, even if we cannot decode the symbolism, we are affected on an unconscious level. Myths and fairy tales represent a very sophisticated psychic technology. Each generation of storytellers, without consciously intending to, transmits the covert wisdom that it learned, unconsciously, from the stories told it.

Without directly contradicting the paradigms of separation and ascent, our myths and stories have smuggled in a very different understanding of reality. Under the cover of, “It’s just a story,” they convey emotional, poetic, and spiritual truth that contradicts linear logic, reductionism, determinism, and objectivity. I am not talking here about moralistic stories. Most of those carry little truth. To transmit the second seed, we must humble ourselves to our stories, and not try to use them for our own moralistic ends. They were created by beings far wiser than our modern selves. If you tell or transmit stories, be very respectful of their original form and don’t change them unless you feel a poetic upwelling. Pay attention to which children’s literature has the feel of a true story. Most recent kids’ literature does not. You can recognize a true story by the way its images linger in your mind. It imprints itself on the psyche. You get the feeling that something else has been transmitted alongside the plot, something invisible. Usually, such stories bear rich symbolism often unknown even to their authors. A comparison of two 20th-century children’s books illustrates my point: compare a Berenstain Bears story with How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Only the latter has a psychic staying power, revealing the spirit of a true story, and it is rich with archetypal symbolism.

The third seed was the indigenous tribes, the people who at some stage opted out of the journey of separation. Imagine that at the outset of the journey, the Council of Humanity gathered and certain members volunteered to retreat to remote locations and forgo separation, which meant refusing to enter into an adversarial, controlling relationship to nature, and therefore refusing the process that leads to the development of high technology. It also meant that when they were discovered by the humans who had gone deeply into Separation, they would meet with the most atrocious suffering. That was unavoidable.

These people of the third seed have nearly completed their mission today. Their mission was simply to survive long enough to provide living examples of how to be human. Each tribe carried a different piece, sometimes many pieces, of this knowledge. Many of them show us how to see and relate to the land, animals, and plants. Others show us how to work with dreams and the unseen. Some have preserved natural ways of raising children, now spreading through such books as The Continuum Concept. Some show us how to communicate without words – tribes such as the Hazda and the Piraha communicate mostly in song. Some show us how to free ourselves from the mentality of linear time. All of them exemplify a way of being that we intuitively recognize and long for. They stir a memory in our hearts, and awaken our desire to return.

In a recent conversation, the Lakota Aloysius Weasel Bear told me that he once asked his grandfather, “Grandpa, the White Man is destroying everything, shouldn’t we try to stop him?” His grandfather replied, “No, it isn’t necessary. We will stand by. He will outsmart himself.” The grandfather recognized two things in this reply: (1) That Separation carries the seeds of its own demise, and (2) That his people’s role is to be themselves. But I don’t think that this is an attitude of callousness that leaves the White Man to his just desserts; it is an attitude of compassion and helping that understands the tremendous importance of simply being who they are. They are keeping alive something that the planet and the community of all being needs.

By the same token, our culture’s fascination with all things indigenous is not merely the latest form of cultural imperialism and exploitation. True, the final stage of cultural domination would be to turn Native ways into a brand, a marketing image. And certainly there are some in my culture who, sundered from community and from a real identity, adopt Native pseudo-identities and pride themselves on their connections to Native culture, spirituality, people, and so forth. Underneath that, however, we recognize that the surviving First Peoples have something important to teach us. We are drawn to their gift, to the seed that they have preserved until the present time. To receive this seed, it is not necessary to participate in their rituals, take an animal name, or claim a Native ancestor, but only to humbly see what they have preserved, so that memory may awaken. Until recently, such seeing was impossible for us, blinkered by our cultural superiority complex, our arrogance, our apparent success in mastering the universe. Now that converging ecological and social crises reveal the bankruptcy of our ways, we have the eyes to see the ways of others.

The seeds of Reunion are sprouting everywhere. That which was hidden for millennia is coming to light. Soon, fertilized by the detritus of our decaying civilization, the sprouts will mature, bloom, and bear fruit. Our job is first to receive them, then to spread them everywhere and to guard and foster them with every ounce of our love.