As some of you know, I will be presenting the keynote speech and conducting a workshop at the Viridis Genii symposium beginning of June in Portland Oregon.
The premise of this gathering is dear to my heart and indicative of a growing Western culture that is actively weaving spirit and the sacred back into our relationship with nature.
Capitalism and industrialisation have brought us many gifts, but the price we have paid for our progress is a disconnection from nature and spirit. We wake each morning to a world focused on material goods, devoid of content, meaning, ethics or spirit. We look at our negative impact on the world, how we treat our food animals and forests, we see increasing global environmental degradation, loss of species, rampant new diseases and we wonder what we as individuals can do to change this.
There are facets of nature that we cannot understand through study or external sources. They represent knowledge that is esoteric, transmitted directly, purely experiential and deeply subjective. I believe the answers to our current disconnectedness are found here through deep, intimate and individual reconnecting with Nature. A path that is available to us all. Anytime. Anywhere.
Carefully veiled around us, is a world of ancestral knowledge and timeless wisdom. Within it we find ancient mysteries, lost sciences and arts, dormant magic and technology both forgotten and yet to be discovered. It is ours to draw from if we so choose.
One need not be a mystic, mage or super-spiritual person to dip into this well of mysteries, gifts and insights, to be initiated into a deeper understanding of nature, the cosmos and our place in it. There are no titles or certificates needed or given, no special invitations or secret handshakes. Entheogens are not mandatory and there is no age requirement. Come, open and willing as you are. Bring your passion. Nature turns no one away.
What awaits us on this path as plant people, herbalists, healers, apothecaries, alchemists, wizards, witches, wildcrafters and more, is a broadened understanding of cosmic and planetary intelligence and life, a sense of place and stewardship, a connectedness to nature and humanity as a whole and an ability to not only hear and understand the language of nature, plants and animals, but to communicate and forge mutually respectful relationships. Here we directly experience shamanism, animism, magic, mysticism and the healing arts of our collective ethnocultural pasts. Here we discover stewardship of our future.
When we connect deeply and intimately with nature and its plants, animals and minerals, align ourselves with its cycles and rhythms, we enter into the presence of the “other”, the genius, the intelligence, the spirit, that which speaks directly to us. With us. This is the Viridis Genii, the Spirit of the green, and we learn her secrets through Gnosis, experiential knowledge- Green Gnosis. She invites us each into deep intimacy with her in her world and her temple of mysteries, if we but ask.
Though radically personal and subjective, there is a commonality of experience that lends us a shared understanding and language. That shared language creates a community. A growing community . This growth could be deemed a movement. This movement can be discerned in other fields and human endeavours.
I believe when viewed from afar, this slow radical change in perception through individual personal experience can be seen as an evolution on a global scale.
The Viridis Genii Symposium is a call, a beacon to any and all who have experienced or seek to experience the mysteries, magic and medicine of nature beyond its physical form. All who have ever felt there was more in the forest than meets the eye.
In the post below, “Science in the Stars”, Michele has published a concise and easy to understand introduction to medical astrology and what I like to call “Astrodynamics”. One I will link to my introduction to planetary rulerships and Medical astrology-“Astrodynamics 101”.
As always, Michele has done an exceptional job crafting a tasteful, informative and easy to understand post. She has done so on a subject that even the alternative community considers alternative. Whatever it is that Michele Burklund does, that constantly impresses me, she just did it again.
Michele publishes well crafted, interesting, informative, and beautiful posts on anything she considers a “modality” of naturopathic medicine. She will complete her 5th and last year of naturopathic studies this year, and from what I understand, specializes in mental health and neurology. As implied by the name, “Healthy Fashionista”, Michele does indeed have a great sense of fashion, but, more than that, she manages to balance appearance and content, inner and outer lives, wisdom and beauty with flair and style.
I believe that as individuals and as a group, we are an innate and integral part of the cosmos. We are a factor in every solution, and in every problem. We are affected by, and we affect everything around us. As above, so below. More than a philosophy, this phrase can give us a deeper understanding of the mechanics of the world.
The only way we can judge the validity of any theory, is by studying it. I hope the information presented here on the connection between astrology and our health, will provide a stepping stone for a deeper understanding of self, life and the world around us.
Medical astrology is actually an ancient science that predates both psychology and astronomy! This ancient medical system associates various parts of the body, diseases, and drugs as under the influence of the sun, moon, and planets along with the twelve astrological signs.
It’s been used for thousands of years dating back as far as 410 BC and traced to locations across the globe including Egypt and Mexico. It’s popularity has waxed and waned over the centuries but it has always managed to keep a presence. As a scientist by nature, I always try to keep an open mind to all types of modalities and entertain the validity while waiting for more evidence-based research to come about.
Isn’t is interesting that women have shown peak rates conception and probably ovulation appear to occur at the full moon or the day before. During the new moon, ovulation and conception rates are decreased overall, and an increased number of women start their menstrual bleeding. Scientific research has documented that the moon rules the flow of fluids (ocean tides as well as individual body fluids) and affects the unconscious mind and dreams. The timing of the menstrual cycle, the fertility cycle, and labor also follows the moon-dominated tides of the ocean. Environmental cues such as light, the moon, and the tides play a documented role in regulating women’s menstrual cycles and fertility (source). Maybe in our technology dominated culture we are beginning to forget how connected we are to universal forces?
Common imbalances associated with each astrological sign:
Aries: The energies are often in excess of the nervous and mental balance, and most ill-health has its origins in such things as violent exertion and outbursts of anger. The Aries person should seek poise at all costs.
Taurus : Over-indulgence and too much comfort lie at the roots of most disorders, but there is also a tendency to brood over troubles which lends force to any passing ailments.
Gemini : Nervous reactions and restlessness, form the basis.
Cancer : Usually complaints originate in the emotions through some mental irritant, cause nervous reactions and general lessening of vitality. It has been said that nine times out of ten the Cancerian is hurt in health more by others than by himself.
Leo : Nearly all afflictions tend to arise from over-exertion of some kind.
Virgo : There is a tendency to upsets of the digestive organs from nervous causes, producing acidity and other troubles.
Libra : Troubles arise usually from nervous exhaustion of some kind.
Scorpio : Breaking down of the resistance through worrying and interaction of others upon the individual.
Sagittarius : Restlessness often causes the trouble; the folks under this Sign are peculiar to accidents and injuries.
Capricorn : Disease is frequently rooted in inhibitions.
Aquarius : Nervous causes, usually, based on the highly sensitive nature.
Pisces : Over-heating of the mind with possibly fancied injuries from others, plus much sensitiveness physical and mental, form the basis for most complaints.
Now is the season, the possibilities of this years bounty are starting to bubble up in our minds. Wild wines, Jams, Jellies, confections and preserves, fritters and frittatas. Wild Mushrooms and May-apples. SPRING is here! Symbol of potential and new beginnings, new endeavors. so let’s get started.
Experience has shown me a good recipe is only part of the work, and often not as important to the result as HOW we go about making our wildcrafted delicacies. Since Dandelion Wine is one of the first Wild wines we can make, and in many North American areas, there is still time to make it, I will use Dandelion Wine as our example. These TIPS can be applied to all your planned productions from Mother Natures Bounty each season and year.
Dandelion Wine is a Spring tradition internationally. More than just a beverage. It can capture the essence of the season, and since it should sit for a few months to mature, you shouldn’t really drink it till Winter. Yule or Christmas or Chanukah time, capturing a taste and memory of springs light and warmth to savour during the dreary cold dark and dead of winter.
A pest and a blessing. Love them or hate them, either way we simply have to live with them. As persistent and adaptable as the proverbial cockroach, they are going nowhere, and we will never be rid of them, so might as well embrace them in all their bitter, medicinal, sweet and sunny glory.
There are hundreds of recipes for Home made Dandelion Wine. I can’t tell you which is the best. I am sure every year there are more being developed as more people explore making it, and with the speed and proficiency of internet communication there are probably more wonderful recipes being posted as I write this. Whatever recipe you use, these tips are guaranteed to take it to a whole new level!!
– Not all Dandelions are equal .When it comes to making Dandelion Wine. You can’t just chop down any Dandelion flower at any time of the year in any place willy nilly so to speak and expect to make a superb wine. One dandelion is not the same as all other dandelions! First of all, if we are going to use them for our dandelion wine, we need to wait for them. That’s right.
–If you want Wild Mushrooms, you hunt them.
–If you want Dandelions for wine, you wait for them. Seriously.
1-Wait patiently , keep your eye open for where and when they will rise, you know where they will appear. Because you have noticed them,(consciously or not), year after year while your subconscious toyed with the idea of making something with that abundance that seems to be wasted. You are a creative spirit. Have all your tools, materials and vessels ready and sterilized, and a place ,(kitchen?), to do your magic planned. Be prepared!
2 – What is it that you are waiting for? You are waiting for that first county-wide Yellow Shout of Spring Joy from the earth, and that big outward push of those Dandy Lions from the sweet loins of mother nature en mass. That is the sweet spot!. There is usually only one per year. And it is worth waiting for! It could last two weeks, or it could only last a few days before a run of cold cloudy rainy weather puts a damper on it. There will be no more of a glorious or perfect a time to harvest Dandelion flowers for wine than this. Period. Sure, there will be more Dandelion flowers all summer long, and yes you could make dandelion wine at some later point in the season. But y’know what? It simply won’t be the same, and you will never know it unless you try this out.
So,,.Do enjoy Spring, relax and breath it in, take a few days to let that warm spring glow take the winter chill out of your bones, but DON’T miss that first yellow window! Seriously, when I do miss that first virgin big yellow swath of dandelioness everywhere, I will most often just wait till the next spring and say, “oh well, it wasn’t meant to be”. That’s how important it is. Having a good recipe is only one part of making the best Dandelion wine.
3 – If you can, try to harvest on a SUNDAY. Start as close after dawn as you can. Astrologically this is the day of the Sun and The hour of the Sun. (about an hour and a half to two and a half depending on which system you use for division of Planetary hours), and you only really have to initiate the harvest then, you don’t have to complete your harvest within this time frame. Astrologically, Dandelions are ruled by the Sun. (As are Calendula, and St. John’s Wort). So from an Astrodynamic perspective they are energetically at their peak and prime, resonating and ripe, in happy harmony ,( vigorous and vibrant) at this time. Timing is everything. You can tell, if you look for it. There is an extra vibrancy and glow to them. It is not random, and it’s not your imagination.
There are other Astrological conditions that you could take into account, but if you are not familiar with the energetic connection between plants and planets, Astrological rulerships, Planetary hours and the basics of Plant Alchemy, this is a great place to start. Especially since you may not have a wide window of time to work with. Does working with plants according to their astrological rulerships make a noticeable difference in quality? I believe so.But,, you will have to try it and find out for yourself.It’s just one of those things. Esoteric, because you have to experience it from the inside to know it. Experience it first hand, first person. It is not exoteric knowledge, learned from the outside as most knowledge is transmitted to us.
4 – Morning Dew– Often, when harvesting herbs for drying, it is important to pick when the dew is dried from them, to avoid encouraging mold and other organisms while they are drying.. When harvesting flowers for wine, you do not have to wait till all the dew has dried off, morning dew is a unique ingredient. So don’t shake it off. If you have it, keep it..
5 – Find a spot where where there is an obvious abundance of Dandelions, an area rich in whatever it is that Dandelions thrive on. Physically and energetically. Don’t get too close to busy roadways where pollution from exhausts might have seeped into the ground, or anywhere there might be a chance herbicides or pesticides may have been used, and stay away from areas that may have been home to, or down hill from old industrial buildings or old land fill sites. Stay away from areas sparsely populated by Dandelion, go for the gusto! There is a reason they grow so thickly in some areas.
6 – Harvest them by hand.. not with scissors or knives. Also, If you have helpers, get someone to do the picking, and someone to nip off all the stubs of stems and anything green that is still attached. (Kids are great at this).The green parts are not needed or desired for wine and will only reduce the colour and add their own flavour. We only want the flavour of the flower. Thumbnails work perfectly for harvesting most flowers.
7 – Since you are taking something, always give something back. Whether something physical that is of benefit to the land or plant, a gesture, or something symbolic. Give and receive. Balance. Nature is big on balance. It is a law you can count on. Like Karma.
8 – Make sure all your bottles, spoons, funnels etc. are clean and sterile, if you can’t boil them then use sodium metabisulfite, a standard preservative and sterilizing chemical available in all wine and beer making supply stores. Follow the instructions for using it. It is very, very important to keep everything clean and not introduce any organisms other than the yeast we are intentionally adding.
9 –. USE WILD GINGER I always add Wild Ginger to every wine I make! I am constantly impressed with the magic it performs and the flavours it adds without being obvious or obtrusive in any way. And I am not just trying to perk up sales of Wild Ginger from my shop either. Wild Ginger lends rich character and depth to a wine. It is absolutely transformative.To any wine. Perhaps due to the complexity of its oils and resins. I have heard historically in old Europe, Clary Sage was used for a similar purpose to create “Muscatel” Wine. Clary Sage is also an herb endowed with essential oils ,(in flower), and resins, (on the stem). About a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half of ground dried Wild Ginger to each gallon,(4 liters) of liquid. I have found this especially benefits floral wines that need body to compliment their lighter and more ethereal spirit.
So those are the basics of How to make a kick ass Dandelion Wine, You can use these tips with every wild wine you make, and adapt them to all your foraging forays and wildcrafting projects. Here is a simple recipe. One I hope will suit first timers as well as the practiced maker of wild wines. it can be doubled, tripled or halved. It includes a secondary fermentation which many of the old recipes do not include, but I have I found it refines your end product considerably. making it dryer, crisper, clearer and higher in alcohol content. If you find it too complex as a beginner, you will find many simpler and good recipes online. Take what you can from these tips and incorporate them in your project. Start small.
Remember to Always take notes!!! I can’t stress this enough!! Quantities, ingredients, variations from a recipe, observations, times, dates, and keep them somewhere safe for next year. This is really important and if you do keep diligent notes, I guarantee your future self will thank you! If you already have your favourite recipe, try out the tips and let me know how this seasons wines turned out for you.
MY BEST DANDELION WINE RECIPE
(Makes about 12 liters of Dandelion Wine)
3 Kilograms of cleaned Dandelion flowers.
12 Liters, (quarts) of water.
4 Kilograms sugar, brown or white.
2 cups white seedless Raisins chopped fine, (or an extra cup of sugar).
2 whole large washed Oranges, seeded and either put through the blender or chopped fine.
1 whole, washed Lemon,same as above.
6 whole clove pieces
2-1/2 teaspoons dried and powdered Wild Ginger or 60 grams,(2 oz.) fresh & chopped.
1 packet wine making yeast, or 1 tablespoon regular bread making yeast.
1 cup lukewarm water.
1 food grade white plastic bucket 15 liters capacity,(standard restaurant size used for liquids and muffin mixes, grape juice for wine etc.
Large pot that will boil 15 liters.
Old and clean Pillowcase.
Clear plastic hose for “racking”,(transferring the wine out of containers without the must).
Large funnel, and or colander that will sit firmly on top of your bucket.
one medium wine making carboy 12-15 liters.
or -3 to 4-1 gallon narrow mouthed glass jugs. The kind hot sauce and vinegar come to restaurants. Easy to find on recycling day.
Beer or wine bottles with corks or caps.
Sodium Metabisulfite for sterilizing. Available at most brew your own shops and anywhere that wine making supplies are sold. Follow directions!
All vessels and tools must be sterile.
Collect and prepare your Dandelion flowers as directed above.
Bring back to a boil for 1/2 hour, simmering on low and covered.
Let it sit covered to cool, until it is just cool enough to handle.
Pour and strain into plastic bucket through a clean washed pillowcase, or through a colander lined with doubled cheese cloth, nothing beats a pillowcase especially for wringing out the liquid and keeping larger particles from passing into your wine. the colander is just a precaution, and to support the weight, ( ideally find one that your bucket supports, or put the colander in a funnel that sits firmly on the rim of your bucket, or just use a large funnel and sit your pillowcase in it.)
Press whatever liquid you can through the pillowcase or cheese cloth. (Make sure your hands are washed and clean first).
When liquid is room temperature or a little warmer. Take one cup of liquid, (using a clean or sterile utensil), add it your cup of lukewarm water and stir in the yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes or until yeast starts “working”, (it will start creating fizzing or frothing).
Add yeast mixture to liquid in plastic bucket, cover with a clean cloth or a clean towel, (tie or use rubber band around the rim so it does not sag and come into contact with the liquid), and let sit for 1 or 2 weeks at room temperature undisturbed or until you can hear no more fizzing.
Note, if you do not hear fizzing within 24 hours of adding yeast. Put your liquid back in the pot, boil for 10 minutes, cover, wait for it to cool enough to just above body temperature and go through the process of adding your yeast again.
After a week or two, when your wine has stopped “working” or fizzing, “rack” it to a sterile carboy or to your sterile one gallon glass jugs if you don’t have a large narrow necked glass carboy. Racking in wine lingo means siphoning off your clear wine from the must that has settled on the bottom. Pouring it out would just mix in the must and carry its taste over.
Keeping a minimum of space between the top of your liquid and the top of the bottle is helpful. If needed add room temperature boiled water to bring liquid level up to 3 to 4 inches from the lip in a gallon jug and 6 to 7 inches in a large carboy.
Add CO2 locks, From a wine supply store, about $1.00 each. Or a piece of balloon rubber pulled tightly over the opening and tied, with a couple of pin holes in it for gas to escape and keep organisms out. Let sit, undisturbed in a cool dark place for secondary fermentation. Cool basements are ideal for this.
Wait 4-6 weeks, then siphon the wine off the must again, but this time into your sterile bottles.( Note; For those more experienced with wine making, you can do whatever you like at this point. You can put it back in a sterile carboy and continue your secondary fermentation, rack it as often as you like, pump it through a filter, play with the sugar/alcohol content, flavouring etc.)
Cork, cap and set aside till December at the earliest.
In December, open, decant, and have a taste of Spring in the middle of Winter.
Remember to keep CLEAR notes. Your future self will thank you.
Astrodynamics is a modern term coined for a method of working with plants and Astrology to refine the energetic and physical qualities of herbs and their products. It is a branch of Herbal Alchemy which seeks to sublimate and potentate plant qualities by working in harmony with Nature . Its goal is to bring plant life to its fullest potential, or in other words to transmute what is mundane to a higher form of itself. This is reflected in the well-known pursuit of mineral Alchemy, transmuting Lead to Gold.
According to Astrodynamics, each plants physical, energetic and therapeutic properties resemble and resonate with different astrological and Planetary bodies. Each plant is influenced by, or “Ruled by” a planet and/or Sign of the Zodiac and there is a resonance, a harmony and an affinity between them. These energies are at their peak in plant life when their ruling sign or planet is prominent or well aspected in the sky. When their ruling planets or signs are at an ebb or in conflict with other heavenly bodies, the corresponding qualities in their subjective herbs will also be at an ebb. There are different influences that are considered in this approach to herbalism.
-The position of the Moon, whether waxing or waning and in which sign of the Zodiac it is passing through.
-The day of the week, each is ruled by a different planet, as is each hour of the day.
-Care is also given to one’s intent and mindfulness in every step of the process. One cannot separate oneself from the equation or not influence the end product. Each species is accorded the respect and care due to a unique individual, not a commodity. Thus Astrodynamics is about the dynamics of relationships, the interconnectedness and interdependence of all things.
-My experience has shown, that growing, harvesting and processing plants, conscientiously while working with their rulerships and Astrological affinities in this manner, yields products of superior medicinal quality, colour, fragrance and extended shelf life.
The second place we utilize this knowledge is when the medicine is made. This is directed by the organ or area of the body the dis-ease is affecting. Each organ is “Governed” by its own astrological and planetary signs.
The body and organs are supported with herbs that have an affinity with them. The medicine is produced at a time these energies are at their peak. While the dis-ease is addressed with herbs that are astrologically opposite in their nature and energy.
These are some basic principles of Astrodynamics,Herbal Alchemy and Medicinal Astrology, in a nutshell.
Saturday night, the Crescent. Moon a bright, crisp golden sliver, hanging in the western night.
The symbolism. And meaning of this 29 .5 day period are more obscure to me than the other 11 Lunation cycles, and it would seem appropriately so.
The sign of the Zodiac, Scorpio represents mystery and that which is hidden. In ancient times ruled by Mars alone, planet of war, death and the mysteries beyond the grave that will always be speculations of the living, Scorpio has been given to the Planet Pluto since that planet’s discovery. Pluto is considered to signify the higher octave. Of Scorpio. Where Mars rules action, aggression and war, (and infers death and transition), Pluto is a symbol of death and Life. Old and young. Perhaps the mysteries that obscure our clear perception ,make us see those older or younger as different and seperate from us, removed from oneness, somehow different.and seperate from us in our perception. An odd thing that.
The time span of the Scorpio Lunation is one that recomends ” cleaning house”, purging the unneeded from our lives, eliminating the ” monkies from our backs”, those chores and obligations we have been putting off forever that weigh us down and distract us from our goals. It is a time to fine tune our focus. Perhaps with a metaphorical sword that the God Mars might weild to battle, slice away the the thought forms, relationships with things, attachements that we cling to. Some we drag with us through our days with a fear of letting go, and some we pile on our plate with a fear of what might happen when we discharge them.<h
So, in a way, the Scorpio Lunation cycle might present us with an opportunity to see what mysteries of self lie beyond our fears and self limiting choices. Perhaps a good time to cut unwanted habits from our lives, unhealthy relationships with things and with people. A time to take action while Mars lends us His weaponry and Pluto thins the veil of perception a bit to ease our trepidations of what might lie around the corner of self emancipation from our self chosen slavery.
On another note, The Apothecary’s Garden received its first fall cleanup on Saturday, there is perhaps a metaphor there, relating to the Scorpio presence. Dead growth cut back, all invasive seedlings that took root during the year were pulled so they wouldn’t crowd out the specimens we were nurturing. Tansy, Yarrow, Lemon Balm and Dandylion all thriving in the cooler weather and quietly establishing footholds in the garden, hoping to continue unnoticed. Till they become impossible to remove in the spring. Linda, Mary Louise, John and Jane, all giving there time to tend to the closing of the garden. Many thanks to you all!!
Looks like we will need one more push this coming Saturday to finish the job. Hopefully we will not be dealing with an unexpected blanket of snow.
Herbal Apothecary, Wildcrafter, Sculptor, Craftsman.
Owner of Apothecary's Garden and Fairtrade Frankincense LTD. Providing a selection of fresh & fair trade, ethical and sustainably harvested Frankincense and Myrrh species, local and exotic fragrance materials, unusual essential oils, Natural perfume ingredients and animal essences. Astrodynamic plant Preparations, Herbal salves, cremes, tinctures and oils.
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