Category Archives: Granny Women

Dia de Los Muertos – Remember The Rosemary!

Rituals celebrating the death of ancestors by indigenous peoples in America go back about 3,000 years. Yesterday Sunhawk gave me an introduction to her ancestors at the altar with its ofrendas that she’d set up over the weekend. Photos of departed family, friends, even pets are displayed among marigolds and candles. She explained that during the month of October the spiritual realm is vibrationally closer to us so we’re better able to communicate with those who’ve passed. Every day, until the actual Dia de Los Muertos on November 2 (although the day can vary in different areas), there’s talk about and to, the departed.

Sunhawk, Silverwolf and I toasted our visitors with wine (after Sunhawk filled their tiny cups on the shrine) and shared a meal of pasta and stories about various individuals and the tradition itself.

I thought to myself, what a coincidence that this is my Rosemary month! I’m giving a Rosemary Dinner Workshop in collaboration with the Blue Mountain Bakery & Deli in Jasper, Arkansas this week. You see, for many hundreds of years, Rosemary has been known as the herb of remembrance! And it, too, has an ancient association with the dead as well as sacred ritual. In the past, rosemary was placed in coffins, on coffins, and given to mourners to wear. Part of the reason, in some cases, was that rosemary disinfects and protects against contagion.  In churches, when there wasn’t any frankincense or myrrh to burn for incense, rosemary was considered the next best thing.

Now I doubt Rosemary has yet joined marigolds (thought to attract the dead to the offerings left for them) or the traditional pan de muerto as a necessary inclusion. But, if recent scientific research showing how it  improves our minds and hearts can persuade traditionalists to adopt it…rosemary has a place on the table at the very least…burned as incense, too.

Pan de Muerto

Consider this;

  • As a central nervous system stimulant, Rosemary essential oil increases the generation of Beta waves in the brain (wakefulness)
  • Research confirms that its an anti-depressant and lowers anxiety (See here and here)
  • Studies reveal several ways Rosemary protects the brain, aiding memory:
    •  Rosemary extract shows significant ability to enhance NGF (nerve growth factor) needed for growth and functional maintenance of the nervous system (See here )
    • The carnosic acid in Rosemary has a protective effect against oxidative stress on cortical neurons (See here)
    • Rosemary is one of the best substances to protect the brain (& all cells in the body) from radiation. (See here and here )
    • It’s carnosic acid may safeguard dopaminergic neuronal cells from environmental neurotoxins (See here)
    • Rosemary, especially when combined with curcumin, shows ability to ward off Alzheimers. (Source)
More information on Dia de Los Muertos found here.
Of course, there’s so much more to Rosemary, its anti-tumor , anti-inflammatory, antibiotic abilities are amazing. It helps relieve pain, helps defeat HIV, protects against ulcers, protects against environmental toxins. Its even under consideration now for treatment of leukemia and melanoma. Its also a rare heart and lung restorative. Fabulous for the entire circulatory system. I’ll be sharing all of its wonders at our dinner on Wednesday. After that, I’ll offer everyone else a webinar about this little treasure. And, since I take Rosemary everyday, I’m certain I’ll remember!
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Old Time Seed Swapping in Arkansas –Schedule

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In collaboration with Conserving Arkansas’ Agricultural Heritage, we’re holding our yearly seed swaps in several locations for the first time! In past years we’ve had a great turnout at the Ozark Folk Center, but its a long drive for many of us.

Dr. Brian Campbell out of the University at Conway, an agricultural anthropologist, has done an excellent job of locating sources for old-time cultivars going back generations here in Arkansas. Some of the farmers and gardeners who have this seed show up at these seed swaps as well.

If you want to help us conserve these valuable plants (including herbs), please consider attending and taking some seed home to grow, save, and offer at the next swap.

I’m working with the Newton County Public Library, Nan Johnson and a circle of dedicated gardeners to bring the swap to Jasper on March 6, check back on the time. For now it seems to be 12:00 until 3:00. We’ll begin with a short presentation on some of the essentials for seed saving. At  the end we’ll have a master composting workshop with Nan Johnson for whomever wants to attend.

Here’s the  press release sent out by CAAH which includes the schedule for all of the Arkansas seed swaps:

Spring is just around the corner and so are our seed swaps!  In
addition to the 3rd Annual Ozark Seed Swap at the Ozark Folk Center
State Park and the 2nd Annual Faulkner County Seed Swap at the Faulkner County Library, CAAH! has collaborated with organizations all over the state to establish new Seed Swaps in five additional communities: El Dorado, Fayetteville, Jasper, Russellville, and Searcy.  Arkansas farmers and gardeners have a legacy of heirloom seeds that are in danger of being lost, and the sharing of these heirloom seeds will encourage their production for posterity. Last year’s swaps were a huge success with hundreds of gardeners in attendance and a remarkable number of heirloom varieties exchanging hands. We invite you to bring some seeds and stories to swap with other Ozark seed savers and yarn spinners.  If you do not have any seeds to swap but want to get started, attend a swap or two and mingle with gardeners and farmers who can help; if you would like, you may bring envelopes, plant cuttings or garden implements to share… We can conserve the heritage of Arkansas while we share good stories, beautify our yards, and of course, get free seeds.  No charge  for admission.

Seed Swaps will be held at the following locations and times:

Mountain View
February 13th 12-3pm
Ozark Folk Center, Administration Building 1032 Park Ave Mountain
View, AR 72560
Contact:  Tina Marie Wilcox Tina.Wilcox@arkansas.gov
870-269-3851
Fayetteville
February 14th  1:30-4:45
Fayetteville Public Library  401 W. Mountain St., Fayetteville
AR 72701
Contact:  Katy Deaton katyd@ncat.org
El Dorado
February 20th 1-4 pm
Barton (El Dorado) Public Library 200 East 5th St., El Dorado
AR
Contact: Nancy Arn 870-863-5447
Searcy
February 27th 10 am-1pm
ASU- Beebe, Farms Classrooms 1000 West Iowa St., Beebe AR
Contact:  Sherri Sanders 501-268-5394  SSanders@uaex.edu
Jasper

March 6th 12am -3pm
Newton County Library, Community Room  Jasper, AR 72641
Contact: D’Coda dcoda@ozarkseedexchange.com Jennifer 870-446-2983

Conway
March 13th 1pm-4pm
Faulkner County Library 1900 Tyler St., Conway AR 72032
Contact: Amy Campbell 706-248-2597  awheeler1975@hotnail.com
Russellville
March 27th 10 am-1 pm
Pope County Fair Grounds, Old Entertainment Building
1602 SR 124 Russellville AR 72802
Contact: Crystal Bowne 479-567-5707  cbowne@atu.edu

For more information about Conserving Arkansas Agricultural Heritage see www.arkansasagro.wordpress.com

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We Are the Weeds to Repair the World Soil

Many of us are already turning our minds toward spring, ordering seeds, repairing garden structures. Many of us also feel some concerns about the unpredictable weather we’ve had and wonder how to plan our gardens for 2010. I’ve had Siberian tomatoes in storage. My “just in case” tomatoes.

Inspiration miraculously gathers around gardeners in their pre-spring reflections. Here is a beautiful video by Geoff Lawton about what’s possible for us to do in our work with the land. What we MUST do. Its guaranteed to feed your soul for spring.

I found this video thanks to @octohorse on Twitter (just joined yesterday and am busy harvesting).

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Blue Moon Breather

Sometimes winter coming on takes us into the quiet folds of mindspirit. When the world is on fire, winter kindly banishes us to its icy reflection. Its good to step into the folds of her hushed moan,to let her carry us away to her blue moon. To lead us away from whatever we think we ought to be doing towards something deeper. Winter is the deepest season.

blue moon

So, I’ve been away. Courting the great mystery. And you my fellow healers? Did you also step into the trance of transformation stamping itself on us? Something is afoot. A bifurcation point. I’ve decided to make my first “return” post something to get your circulation going. If it doesn’t give you a helpful jolt, do make up a batch of ginger syrup…a dependable winter ally…now then, on to the frisky stuff…

In November I wrote a novel (first draft), in December I reflected, studied and prepared for winter weather. Of particular interest, I dug into the history of European herbalism/shamanism/mysticism. I knew the use of entheogens was widespread among ancient Greeks, Romans and other European cultures but it turns out they were downright common. They played a major role in winter rituals – here’s a shock, there’s a close association between the Christmas tree and psychedelic mushrooms…even indications of their use among early Christians!!! Those of you with an open minded curiosity about what was going on back then will find the podcasts at Gnostic Media eye opening, click here.

The following was an especially juicy find, perfect timing – right before Christmas/Winter Solstice:

From the Introduction of The Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece:

Were holy women of ancient Greece once engaged in attempting to conceive children miraculously? . . . . [S]hards of a Greek history seeming to link women and divine birth have continuously presented themselves to me, glinting through obscure passages in ancient texts and in the prose of unsuspecting contemporary scholars. I have collected these pieces, and in this book I have assembled them. The result is a vessel that may still have many missing parts, but one that begins to reveal an integral form and shape, nonetheless.

flower-borders-22 Rigoglioso makes a convincing case that priestesses had acquired a kind of siddhi enabling successful parthenogenesis (virgin birth). these children were awarded the highest status, considered to be demi-gods and kings.  The oracles were another branch of the same tradition, as were the women healers known as “wise women”. You can find out more at her website here.

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Granny Woman Revival

The storms of time and medical hubris have erased her. Successfully tending the sick and injured in the back country, she held out in hidden pockets of the Ozarks well into the 20th century. Elsewhere she may have been called a wise woman healer or even denounced as a witch. Here she was humbly called, “granny woman”.  Knowledge of plants and healing technique passed from mother to daughter for centuries. Memory stretching across the ocean to roots in Europe, she quickly adapted Native American know-how as she discovered new marvels in American landscapes.

Well aware that herbs alone cure only when blended with an expectation of healing, she was also psychologist, spiritual ally, carrier of ritual. She knew which plants to harvest in the full moon, what to plant when oak leaves mimic mouse ears, how to render bear fat into the best carrier oil for her ointments.

She brought children into the world and took them out again when all else failed.  Steadfast for so very long, she faded in a whisper as we filled our ears with shouts of scientific discovery and its “superior” medicine. By the time we realized we still needed her knowledge, that nature cure has its place after all….she had taken her centuries with her — back into the earth. Now we comb our archives looking for clues. We ask her descendents what they remember. Not much. Why should they? She was dismissed as “backwards” wasn’t she?

At the recent Ozark Studies Symposium in Missouri I met with two academics involved in their own search for her. When I mentioned it was time for a granny woman revival they enthusiastically agreed. Is it even possible?

Yes. Many dedicated herbalists have traced the broken trail enough to begin to piece her back together. Mind you, she was adaptive, she would quickly embrace what we know today from our cross-cultural studies of therapeutic herbalism. She would draw it all in to weave her own pattern of vitalistic sacred touch to the weary and worn.  She understood that good medicine is always creative application based on a firm foundation of reliable instruction. She was ever open to inspiration and insight.

Don’t you find that women are still open to inspiration and insight? Aren’t they especially hungry to take granny woman’s shawl off the rack, dust it off, and wrap themselves in its authenticity? As natural healers?

So friends…this blog is dedicated to the revival of granny women. Granny woman’s healing is for men and women so all are welcome. Our focus is on herbs found in the Ozarks, however, other important botanicals will be noted. In her spirit, we approach healing in a multi-disciplinary way…as a matter of body/mind/spirit in its natural relationship to the world.

This is a blog, which means this is a conversation. I’m eager to learn about your own healing successes and failures. A proper Granny Woman revival takes a dedicated community, this is OUR place to re-discover our dear old healer.