Likely the most important and unexpected result of this “tour”, was the wealth of information that was shared with us by the Samburu on the medicinal and cultural functions of many of the local trees, plants and animals. The Samburu have a well-developed medicinal, spiritual/mystical and astrological tradition. They have a strong connection to the planet Venus and their creation myth tells of their origin on Venus before migrating to earth. This is reflected in the Ankh/Venus type adornment worn on the forehead of many Samburu women.

Professor Dagne has a good stock of Frankincense essential oils at the moment, which isn’t always the case, and I am buying a nice selection from him while i am here. The purchase will help support his work with local flora, and selling them to my customers and peers supports my projects with the resin harvesters and Civet farmers in Africa

First night in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, reclining in a hammock, chewing on some Chaat and gazing at the moon at 2,355 meters above sea level. She feels closer somehow. Supporting a huge halo, I’m comforted by her unchanging presence no matter where in the world i might be. The blend of fragrances in the air […]

"Samburu women singing" by Wouter van Vliet - Flickr: P1010736. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samburu_women_singing.jpg#/media/File:Samburu_women_singing.jpg

I have just been invited to Northern Kenya to work with the women of the semi-nomadic Pastoralist Samburu tribe with their wildcrafting business and help set up a fair trade platform that will make their lives a little easier, especially through the unpredictable droughts. As it is in many Patriarchal societies, life as a woman is no easy thing. Doing this work has been a dream of mine.

Young Frankincense harvester bringing his daily harvest down from dangerous rocky terrain where the Frankincense Frereana trees grow.

We have become accustomed to a Colonial/Capitalist approach to natural resources. Our western corporations take the precious stuff from poorer countries at the lowest possible price, taking advantage of cheap local labour and poverty, then sell it to us at the highest possible price. This is one reason developing countries are still only developing, and corporations are doing so well. The harvesters of our wild medicinals and aromatics see very little of the money we consumers pay for their resources. I think it’s time for a change.

These are the traditional stewards of some of our world’s rarest aromatics and medicinals. There is no one in the world better positioned, trained, or with the proper incentive to preserve these precious resources. This is an ideal opportunity to move to a different paradigm of sustainable world ecology and commerce, but first we must recognize that the most elegant and effective way to sustain our world’s natural resources is to support those that already do so. The livelihood of these traditional resin harvesters rests entirely on the well-being of these trees and the time proven methods of harvesting.

A visual comparison of 5 types of Frankincense-Boswellia- Papyrifera, Neglecta, Frereana, Rivae, Carterii/Sacra Apothecarysgarden.com

Here is an often referred to, unique and useful chart my friend in Addis Ababa, Professor Ermias Dagne, compiled and posted on his website Aritiherbal.com a few years ago. Due to various issues it has rarely been accessible on his website. Many have asked for such a comparative tool for the various types of Frankincense, so, […]