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A Day of Foraging & Medicinal Herbs ~ Connecting with Plant Spirits of Tahoe


Yesterday Dave and I had a great time outdoors doing something different. We decided to join a local event to learn about our alpine home we live in, here in Lake Tahoe, and how richly abundant it is with potent, magickal, and effective plant medicines. Since we spend tons of time in nature and especially out in the wild, we’ve been getting more and more into learning about foraging, edibles, and medicinal herbs and their benefits. Dave especially had gotten interested during our Magick Bus RV adventure, and had picked up a couple small booklets on foraging. He especially has loved learning how nearly every part of pine trees are edible and we’ve enjoyed munching on the citrusy pine needles, rich in vitamin C. So, the timing of a friend of ours here in Tahoe sharing about this event that took place yesterday was perfect and we signed up right away.

The event was called Bioregional Medicine: Medicinal Herbs of the Tahoe Sierra, which was taught and guided by Gina Woods. Gina is a clinical herbalist, ecologist, nutritionist, chef, educator, and proprietor of Woods Apothecary, which is a local wellness and botanical education center.

I found Gina to be extremely knowledgeable, her experiential class to be very thorough and informative, and her passion, love, and dedication to stewardship of our Earth, her commitment to sustainable development of ecological responsibility, leaving the smallest footprint possible, her devotion to the plants and plant medicine, and our local mountains, as well as her magickal insights and way of sharing to be both enjoyable and admirable.

I love how she helps people to connect to the Plant Spirits and to really create a relationship with them that will help you to connect more with the essence of yourself as a multi-dimensional and collective being.

She believes that when we connect more with the plants and the Earth, we will create a shift in our experience not only individually, but as a collective, bringing us back to natural harmony – something I share in feeling.

You can read more about Gina at the link I provided above, but if you don’t get a chance, I’m sharing some of that info here to provide some insight into her and her work.

Gina has over 20 years of experience as a holistic practitioner, clinical herbalist, Medicine maker, nutritionist, yoga and meditation instructor, massage therapist, birth worker, activist and various healing works, steeped in multicultural traditions. So she’s quite diverse in her offerings.

But yesterday was focused on plant medicine and truly connecting to the wild herbs and plants, as these really connect us to that part of us that we have forgotten, denied, suppressed, and/or fear.

While she does cultivate her own herbs and garden, she is very passionate about wild foraging and bringing some of the wild into your life through working with these plant medicines. I would have to agree, as there really is a potency to wild plants and this incredible frequency and connection that truly stimulates your very DNA in a way that brings you, too, back to your original nature and harmony.

In yesterday’s three-hour guided, outdoor experience, we learned about one ecosystem in a new area we haven’t explored yet, out in Meyers. (We’ll definitely be returning to do some foraging of our own, but also to hike the beautiful trail there to the waterfalls).

The event is one of three in a series that will explore three distinctly different ecosystems during the walks and guided experience.

You learn to positively identify and use the medicinal plants we find in our local bioregion, what each can be used for in terms of health, food, wellness, medicine, first aid, and magickal purposes.

It was a great group of 20 people who showed up (not including Gina), but including five children that joined as well.

Many of the participants have been working with herbs and plant medicine, so we got to hear some of their thoughts, as well as got insights from one of the people who showed up who is a botanist.

We learned about 20 different plant medicines she had planned for the day, plus a few extras she couldn’t help but talk about and add into our experience.

Dave and I split up our learning experience with him being the note taker and me photo documenting everything. This way we weren’t wasting time doubling up on tasks and worked well as a team. It will then provide us a good sheet of info for our own hiking/foraging with good photos of what each plant looks like so we know what we’re doing! 😉

We also got info on the best book to get for this area, which we’ll be doing so we can understand the plants of our area more and how to identify and work with them.

 

It was really enjoyable to sensually experience each of the plants we met more intimately. This included feeling them, visually taking their beauty in, listening to their energy/message, tasting their unique flavors, and smelling their fragrance.

I loved when Gina would get into the magickal and witchy stuff, enjoying her insights on how witches used things like Mugwort – I did end up taking some home and putting it under my pillow last night. 😉

I’m mostly just sharing photos of the experience, rather than every plant we learned about, so you can see what the day was like and perhaps if it speaks to you, you can find something local to you to join!

Comfrey Poultices – Bone Mending Magick!


Comfrey

Not many know that I just recently fractured my left foot – a spiral fracture of the metatarsal bone to be exact – two Saturdays ago via a silly fall from atop my stool in my office, as I was reaching in my storage shelves to find my satin emerald table cloth for last Saturday’s art opening event I had. I guess I took that good luck phrase people say to you, “break a leg,” a little too seriously.

Everything happens for a reason and one of the message I got was that I needed to slow down and that change was going to shatteringly hit my life in a big way! Oh boy!

My intuition told me that it was a fracture and that it would need to just heal on its own, but at the prompting of loved ones, five days after the fall, I went to see an orthopedic doctor to get it checked out. They were worried since it was hugely swollen and bruised and didn’t want permanent damage done. Gotta love peeps for caring!

In the meantime, the lovely Laura Bruno, whom I’d shared the news with, since she’s my dear friend, had mentioned looking up information on comfrey poultices to see what I could find and to use my own guidance and judgment on its use, forewarning only to use it “externally” for short periods if I did, as it can be toxic to the liver. But she remembered it being called “knitbone.”

So I did look it up and did some research including information on how to make my own comfrey poultices and in the interim I stayed off my foot (hopping around at first, then picked up crutches at the local pharmacy) while I applied my comfrey magickal potions all day long for the next 4 days, starting Sunday after the fall on Saturday.

I read it was good both fresh and dried so after calling to find fresh comfrey, to no avail, I was lucky to have one store that carried it dried. Mixing it with my ionized/alkaline water and a little flour to create a paste, I spread the comfrey poultices on cotton rags and folded them into  squares. I put a freshly made one on my foot where I knew the fracture was and wrapped it in bandages to hold it in place. I then took the remaining 3 and put them in a ziploc bag with parchment paper inbetween, in the freezer to use in the days following.

When I visited the doctor last Thursday he confirmed my suspicions and basically said the fracture would have to heal itself. I saw the x-rays he took and he showed me how my bone was perfectly straight and aligned with a line through it. I believe the comfrey poultices had already worked their magick, as I had wacked the heck out of my foot with all my weight on the wood floor when I came crashing down off the stool. One good thing came of the doctor visit, which I try to avoid unless absolutely necessary, was getting this very funny black hard shoe I like to call my Frankenfoot because it makes me look like and walk like Frankenstein! LOL! The doctor said I could put pressure on my foot and to use my pain as a gauge, as doing so actually induces healing. My sweet friend and rock support system through all of this and then some, Allison Jacobson, had confirmed this when she researched my injury and read many people talking about how some tried not putting any pressure on it and some did and those that did actually had the best healing.

Until then I’d completely stayed off my foot and had been applying the comfrey every day, while using my crutches. But upon return home I did away with my crutches and started trying out my foot, finding I could actually put pressure on it and I wasn’t having pains by just mindfully shifting weight a bit and with the use of my new Frankenfoot I was Frankensteining around the house! Yay!! Mobility again! Really makes you grateful for what you have! My foot immediately started decreasing the huge swelling that I had and now my foot only has a tiny bit of swelling, but is getting close to normal. It still has the bruising a lot, but bruising takes a bit more time for my body regardless.

Today I just made the last batch of my comfrey poultices to utilize for the next four days and I feel I’ll be on my way after this. It has only been a week and a half and it’s already done some efficient healing! The doctor told me to expect 4-6 weeks, but between my comfrey and Reiki, and all the lovely healing support from great friends like Laura and Allison, that time will likely be cut in half or 2/3.

I’ve been able to just walk on my own now with this shoe, but mostly because I wanted to ease into things, but it feels like my foot would be fine without the shoe (as now and then I do walk without it at home) and I know shortly I’ll be able to just walk gingerly on my own. No marathon runs or strenuous hikes and biking, but definitely will be walking normally in no time.

Comfrey is one powerful healing plant! It’s also known as the miracle herb and forgotten herb. Well….it won’t be forgotten in my book!

Here’s some info on Comfrey:

Known for centuries as a priceless herb for wounds, sprains, bruises, and broken bones in both people and animals, comfrey (genus name, Symphytum –  meaning to “unite or knit together,” leaves and roots can be used both fresh or dried. The name com-firma means, simply, “knitting of bones,” which is why comfrey is often called knitbone and healing herb.

Comfrey’s success as a healing agent is due to a special substance it contains called allantoin—a substance that speeds the production of new cells and aids in wound granulation (healing) – basically a cell proliferative. This means it makes cells grow faster, which is one of the reasons why comfrey-treated bones knit so fast, wounds mend quickly, and burns heal with such little to no scarring.

Allantoin is the same substance found in the placenta of a pregnant mother, which supports rapid baby growth and is also in the mother’s milk in abundance and then decreases as the child grows.

Comfrey is rich in vitamin B12, which is important to vegans and vegetarians, as very few plants have B12, and is also rich in vitamins B1, B2, C, E, A, pantothenic acid plus calcium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

Good thing is that you can receive the greatest medicinal benefits equally so without ingesting it, so this way you can avoid the toxicity it can cause. But used externally for short periods comfrey is safe, even for babies. When used as a wound dressing its magick shines through and can really work wonders.

Like with anything consult an expert or doctor when seriously injured, but even doctor’s admit to comfrey’s power to speed the healing process. So it’s a great, complimentary support to any treatment you need, desire or choose. So if you find yourself with an unexpected wound, cut, sprain, burn, or break, you can turn to comfrey for comfort. Comfy Comfrey to the rescue!!!

Again, remember never to ingest comfrey and to only use it topically. Consult a professional when in doubt. I offer no medical advice. I only offer my personal experience. And after having had 2 other fractures, of which I never used comfrey poultices with, I can say that it DOES make a huge difference in the efficient healing process.

Read more about comfrey here and  about how “Modern science confirms that comfrey can influence the course of bone ailments.” Yes, it’s not just a witch’s magickal brew!  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfrey

Here is one version of how you can make your comfrey poultices:

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