Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A magical sky

People wonder why I love it here. I could give many reasons, but by far it is nature herself being on the top of the list. The people. The community support of children. The women I drum with. Our thrift store. The energy of generosity and activity. My partner in herbal work, Dragon Lady
So much I love.
But today I have to share a picture that made the front page of our newspaper.

Last night the temps got down to -24 degrees farenheit.
When it is cold like that, we get freaky things in the sky up here in the mountains.

The picture shows what is called 'Light Pillars' and happens when the light from the ground is reflected upon flat snow crystals descended through very cold air.
Simply amazing
Click here

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Traditional Soapmaking Class

Traditional Soapmaking

February 7, 2009 1 p.m. 1 p.m.


Come have tea and learn the art of traditional soapmaking in the cold kettle fashion.

Please bring a container to take some soap home with you.

Recommeded containers are used tofu containers, frozen juice containers, to go coffee cups, or anything that is non aluminum and that you can peel around the soap or cut if needed.

This class will be held in my home.

Thank you EcoGastronomy Initiative for organizing this event.

Please email me at to reserve a place in class

Saturday, January 24, 2009

You are welcome to join us

Community Tea Party sponsored by JH Organics and Dragon Lady Tea is a free event held every 3rd Thursday.
The event is free and all are welcome to come enjoy a some music, some snacks, browse the store, and drink some of the finest herb tea blends ever!

This is a sneak peak of what we did at the January Tea Party.
We love when the Blackthorn Trio can woo us with this lovely celtic sound.
This trio was the guest of music this month.

Donations are accepted to help with costs of putting on this monthly event.

Tea Parties are located at:
JH Organics
365 Broadway Jackson, WY

And just a shout out...Justin will soon be opening for breakfast, so stay tuned for that.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Kiva Rose website updates

When Kiva and I had our interview together it was several months ago. I decide to hold off on her interview being posted until she was able to complete her summer retreats and classes. The summer and fall is very busy for them and I wanted her to be able to breathe before I posted her interview in case people wanted to contact her.
She is a passionate fountain of herbalism and people are drawn to her.

But things have changed since the interview so I wanted to address this for people to check out.

Kiva's courses are found here Medicine Woman Tradition

And Anima which is the sister site where you can get information on retreats and more.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Usnea- I love you sweet little lichen

Usnea barbata

Usnea has been a plant I have been so pleased to get to know.
Also called 'Old Man's Beard'
This lichen is is a combination of two organisms: fungus and algae growing in symbiotic union as one plant.
Stephen Harrod Buhner in his book Sacred Plant Medicine
writes that as he spent time in the forest, and of course saw usnea, that it was useful for the respiratory system of the planet. You see, usnea hangs from trees, and usually on trees or parts of trees that have some problems. I usually see no life on the parts of the tree where usnea is hanging around.

Usnea is an amazing lung herb. This lichen works on bacteria, fungus and virus, and tones mucus membranes throughout the body.
Also known to have antibiotic properties making it useful for tuberculosis, pneumonia, colds, sinus issues, and gram positive conditions like strep or staph.
Usnea lichen contains usnic acid, which is antibiotic.
I have also read that it will keep second and third degree burns from becoming infected.
As a matter of fact, native peoples used the usnea as a natural bandaid or poultice on wounds. You can bunch several peices of usnea and place on a wound and usnea's anti microbial properties will begin its work.
Usnea has also been used for urinary tract infection, and also vaginal infections from trichonoma's or yeast. You would employ the usnea in a douche for vaginal infections, or possibly a bolus with ground usnea.

Referring back to Stephen Harrod Buhners work, he states the outer portion called the cortex is the antibiotic part. This is the grey-green matter we see on the outside.
That white strand inside is called the thallus which is immune stimulating.

He has said that clinically this has been used for varicose and tropic ulcers, ringworm and also lupus, as well as the other things already mentioned.
Other herbalists have used usnea successfully for eczema, cervical issues,asthma, ringworm and recovery from surgery.

No side effects have been reported for usnea although apparantly there was some dietary aids that contained isolated usnic acid along with other herbal isolated parts like yohimbine, caffeine, norephedrine which I might assume is an isolated constituent of ephedra(anyone know about that?)
that was pulled from the market because it was considered to be causing harm to liver cells in some people taking a product called Lipokinetix and actually caused some liver failure.

Once again we see the whole plant working synergistically and causing no harm, whereas isolated powerful parts thrown together from several plants for weight loss by increasing metabolism caused several cases of liver injury and some deaths.

I dont want to get off on a tangent, but just in case you read that usnea can be harmful, there are no known cases that I am aware of with any problems with whole usnea in tincture, or eaten.

I understand that usnea is difficult to tincture, so I am taking my hand at some everclear and about 30% water to add to extract its goodness.
My herb books dont have a whole lot of information about usnea, but from what I gather it is difficult to extract in a water base. Tea might be a challenge unless one makes a decoction.

So let me tell you why I am excited about usnea this year.
Well, first of all I have found it to be helpful to lung issues I have had this winter thus far. Sore, hot lungs. I worked with several herbs for this and finally decided to try usnea and HOO YA! That was what my lungs needed. It is amazing.

The other thing I notice is that this herb is good for systematic yeast. I have been battling systematic yeast since I underwent treatment for cervical cancer a couple years ago. Radiation therapy slammed me into menopause and since that time, my life changed quite a bit. Yeast became an issue to call my attention to everything I eat and drink. Usnea has helped me when I start feeling those twinges of wierdness I get when my body has too much. It will hurt in my reproductive tracts which is probably more my intestines, since due to surgery, everything is in a different place, and then also I feel off balanced, tired, and cranky. Once those symptoms come, I am relying on usnea to help.

I also use usnea in my shampoo bar. Since this health crisis a couple of years ago, my scalp really became rebellious in the cold weather. I have an interview on my blog that describes a bit of what I went through and how I created a shampoo bar this fall to work with dry and irritable scalp.
Usnea along with nettle, rosemary, and horsetail has been absolutely wonderful.
The shampoo bar is called Wild Mane if you want to read about that.
an interview about Wild Mane Shampoo Bar

Next year you will see usnea in some new salves I am working on.
I am really impressed by this little lichen and have first hand had good results with it.

And one of the best things I love is that these lichens often fall to the ground themselves. So take a walk in the trees and gather what has fallen and you will still have a good supply. Even in the winter, if you are getting lonely for the plants, bust a move out to the woods. It is even easier to find on the snow covered ground.

Happy Harvesting!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

a bit radical, but this is what came to me this morning

Think ahead, as you travel the lane
to your health food store or grocery chain
Think ahead to what you truly need
Guard your heart against waste and green

You enter the building and head to the space
where produce lines the chilled case
So many choices, what shall I buy
to make a nice salad or tasty stir fry

Considering the lovely skin and flesh
what will feed you and your loved ones best
Make the best choice of thinking ahead
these items you choose are on a path of the dead

You see, someone may have grown them care
to nourish your soul, your body, your mind, even your hair
But the life of the plant has been plucked away
to give you what you need today

So think carefully what you truly need
be careful of the trappings of consumption and greed
for once you bring your treasures home
they become space fillers in your refrigerator drone

Are they used for you or layed there to die
Their lives having purpose or no way to comply
Consider the plant, the life and the seed
was sacrificed for you to sustain your need

Waste and gratitude to do not walk hand in hand
and the illusion of much is popular in our land
the plants would ask, please take what you will use
as they offered up their life for you

Think of us too.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

You may have noticed a name change

I just want to clarify that this week, I have begun going back to my birth name Haslam.
This week my husband told me that he was moving on, which after a 6 month separation, with no changes, was understood.

This might be the last of my discussion of this as I wish him well in his life and hope that we will be good friends in the future.

But I too feel my call and absolutely cannot conform to what others want me to be when I have to do what I know is right.

In this breaking point for my life, I decided that my birth name will be used from now on. I may never remarry, I dont care, I am in love with my work. So the name of my maiden days can carry on with me as a crone.

The name Haslam is an English name meaning Dweller under the Hazel tree.

I can live with that, and my people, my family, they are awesome!

So just to update to explain the changes. Online is easy, it is the other legal crap that will take longer to get that
Anyway, I am still me and wanted to briefly explain the change.

The very being of plants can sometimes help

A wee opening to see the flowing water despite the narrowing of passage due to ice and snow.

Rosehips against the snowy landscape-SO BEAUTIFUL!

I have arrived home from a longer than expected and wonderful trip. Back to the mountains with ice and snow. Most of the days this week were grey as the sun has been hidden behind the snow dropping clouds.
I love it here-love the beauty and fresh air, the vibrancy of the people SO MUCH.

But sometimes the struggles in life still bring about a sense of sorrow or intensity of heart that cannot be remedied easily.

Feeling this earlier in the week, I decided I NEEDED TIME WITH THE PLANTS!
We live in pine forest so I I headed out where the roads were able to reach the mountains with my daughter to walk.
At some points I was thigh deep in snow, but really not cold nor uncomfortable.
Olivia laughed and played but it was tough for her to get around. Yet she accompanied me with joy and helped me gather some usnea for my shampoo bar.

Just being in the presence of the plant world aid the emotions for me. Even talking a walk and breathing in the cold winter air can be refreshing. But the plants, by far, nurture me the most.
On our walk, we saw resting willow and other plant types I am still learning here. Everything in slumber, except those lodgepole pines. I love them, To tough them and see their beauty and strength, to inhale the healing fragrance of the pine is soothing and powerful in the middle of everything covered in snow.

And of course we were able to pick some rosehips on our adventure to bring home and make a vitamin c rich tea.

If the grey dark days of winter make you sad or in a state of mind you dont enjoy, please remember that all of nature is resting in this season and that it is ok for you to rest more and be peaceful and quiet, or do very little socially.

It may appear to be a negative, but could actually turn around to be positive for each of us to flow like our natural surroundings, by resting.
Yet, cooped up in our dwellings can make one feel disconnected in a huge way.

So I encourage you to take brief walks, or get out amongst the trees somewhere. You will be amazed at how it can help.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Herbalist Spotlight-Kiva Rose

I love bringing these herbalist to my blog. Herbalism is not a fixed art, and herbalists from around the world work in various forms of our passion.
We have experienced those that have sanctuaries to protect and grow herbs, those that are clinical practitioners, midwifes and soon to be doctors, and Tina Sams who developed her love for herbs into a bi monthly magazine.

Today I share with you a little lady with a big calling.
Kiva Rose is a vibrant young woman in her late twenties. She continues her commitment while being partnered and mothering her daughter, Rhiannon who is about 8 years old.

She lives in the Gila of New Mexico and along with Loba and Jesse Wolf Hardin, maintain the sacred area of the Sweet Medicine Canyon while also offering retreats and classes.

I asked Kiva Rose a few questions to share with you today and I am sure you will enjoy the knowledge of this young woman who is very active in her work by writing, consulting, teaching, and living!

Do you remember what was going on in your life that lead you to herbs?

Plants make up most of my earliest memories. I grew up in the Appalachians and deep South where the plants are especially prolific and present.. Yarrow, Burdock and Honeysuckle were everywhere and figured very large in my imagination and playtime. My mother’s garden was a huge inspiration to me and I spent long hours playing in the dirt and tasting plants. Having been something of a nomad for much of my adult life, I learned to love the plants wherever I was. And yet, the pieces didn’t fall completely into place until I found my real home here in the Mogollon Mountains. Once I arrived here, the plants began to really speak to me, and my calling as a Medicine Woman became more and more clear under their guidance. So although I have been in love with the herbs from the beginning, I didn’t really find my path until I came home to this very special place and the medicines particular to this land.

How old were you at that time?

From near babyhood really, but more in a focused way by the time I was seven or eight. I was in my early twenties when I came home to New Mexico and really began learning and practicing herbalism in an intensive way.

Can you share some of the work that has most influenced you? Such as books, blogs, video and lectures.

I was, and still am, influenced by the archetype of the European Medicine Woman from the fairytales I grew up reading, and I am still continually inspired by the Curanderas, Yerberas and medicine people of my home here in the Southwest. As far as particular herbalists and their work, my first herb book was Michael Moore’s Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West and I have been very influenced by all of his books and work. Other than Michael, other primary influences include Matthew Wood, Susun Weed, Paul Bergner, Henriette Kress and all of the Physiomedicalists, especially William Cook. What I like best is work that derives from direct experience with plants and people, and imparts a sense of intimacy with the herbs that only comes from years of daily interaction with the remedies.

When making plant medicine, are you drawn to any particular method?

I consider myself very much a practitioner of folk medicine, in the Appalachian traditions of my childhood and also the very special blend of Hispanic/Apache/Navajo/Anglo medicine traditions of this area. I tend towards simpling in my practice, although I also rely on both traditional and improvised formulas for certain situations. I make 90% of all my medicines from local plants. My whole approach to herbalism is very hands on and earthy, I want to stay close to the practices of my ancestors and yet adapt enough for my practice to be relevant and effective. Keeping my medicine simple allows me to imbue it with intent and prayer, and on the most practical level, helps me ensure both quality and consistency. The purpose of the Medicine Woman Tradition is to blend the ancient and the new into a grass roots approach for women that is more than just a way of making medicine or tending to people’s health concerns, it’s a way of life and being.. The Medicine Woman Tradition teaches that healing is not about being free from pain or discomfort, but rather the pursuit and integration of wholeness in all aspects of our lives.

Do you have a most memorable event, conference, or one on one experience with any of our herbal foremothers and forefathers or any other key person used in your path of herbalism? And how has that influenced you today?

I haven’t spent much time within the mainstream herbal culture. Instead, most of my person to person herbal learning has been gleaned from the Hispanic and Native elders of my local village and area. This has been a moment to moment process, spent on shady front porches and next to aquecias with the old people who still remember the roots their mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers used from this very same soil. I don’t recall a single moment, it’s been more of a long line of slow spoken encounters with the people who have utilized these herbs as medicine for generation after generation. Through these amazing individuals I’ve learned nearly forgotten medicine making techniques, the names and uses of countless native herbs and a certain unique way of approaching the healing process as a part of everyday life, as common sense as tamales and posole. The remedies that come directly from this place are very special to me and of primary importance in my practice. I feel that the healing I facilitate with my clients and students is a direct outflow of the profound power of this special land.

Where are you located?

I live and work from Anima Center, a botanical and women’s sanctuary in a remote river canyon nestled among the Mogollon Mountains of southwestern New Mexico. These mountains are essentially the southernmost stretch of the Rockies, and are a part of the Gila bioregion. This area shelters an amazing diversity of both flora and fauna, and provides an ideal location for studying wild herbs in their natural habitat.

Do you work with the public and could you describe your work? such as:
Do you teach classes?

Anima Center offers both on site and distance learning in the form of correspondence courses, workshops, events, internships and apprenticeships. All classes, consultations and other services are offered by donation.

Do you offer consultations?

I offer both online consultations and in person consultations.

Do you travel for herbal work?

Although it’s hard to leave my beautiful home, I do sometimes travel within the Southwest and Rockies to teach with my partners Loba and Jesse Wolf Hardin.

How can people contact you to find out more about what you offer, calendar of events, blogs, weed walks, etc?

To learn more about my work at Anima Center, and the Medicine Woman Tradition visit and also my online herbal blog at or you can email me directly at

Do you have a vision for your work in the future or are you seeing how it unfolds?

Each year we continue to deepen and expand the Medicine Woman Tradition, and each growing season we restore more of the sanctuary land with native plants. As we grow, I hope to be able to offer a haven and learning place for more and more women to study, heal and experience the transformative magic of the herbs and the Medicine Woman Way.

Most of the readers are new to herbs and if there is one word of wisdom or sage advice you could leave them, what would that be?

Sense, serve, savor.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Overcoming the power of FEAR

Prior to my departure to visit family for the holidays, I had a session with friend, author and astrologer Lyn Dalebout.
Taking a peek into the way the sky looked when I was born, on a new moon eclipse, her sidereal knowledge showed a definate healing path along with some other things that I have felt strongly I need to accomplish as well. I am still blown away by how much truth came through her work with my chart that day. I guess it made a skeptic not so skeptical that is for sure. She did not know the stirrings already going on in my life about some areas.

However, fear also came out in our conversation about my chart. I was not surprised when she told me this.
I had already been dealing with the truth that the fears I have hold me back so much from doing things I really should do.

And up to that day I spent with Lyn, I had already been getting a feeling that it was time for me to overcome some of the fears I had. Seeing her really confirmed that I needed to break free from fear and move to my highest potential.

And I am certian that many of the readers of Blessings of an Herbwyfe have fear they deal with. I mean, really there is alot to fear out there.

One of my fears is going up on a chair lift. I want to, but fear creates every excuse to not do it. I will lose my shoe. My butt is so big I wont fit right and fall off, yada yada....lets face have fear, kristena, plain and simple.
I also have a fear of driving over Teton Pass in the winter. This pass allows people to commute over the mountains from idaho to wyoming. The elevation is 8431 feet with several areas that avalanche. i have no problem in summer, it is absolutely heaven!
But quite scared once the snow and ice cover the roads.

So I wanted to share this story in hopes to encourage some of you that may have already had the internal message to begin to break free of fear.

On the way home from our Christmas/New Year holiday with family the original plan was that I would drive most of the way and then once we had to drive on the icy roads a few hours from home, my son would drive.

I feel I am still relearning how to drive in these conditions and wanted to be sure we made it home safely. The roads can be very dangerous out here, and with the amount of snow and below zero temps while we were away made me FEARFUL.

We spent a night near Ogden, Utah on our treck home, and at 5 am my 22 year old son woke up in so much pain, that he woke me to take him to the emergency room.
LESSON NUMBER ONE IN THIS STORY-remember to bring mullein in the first aid kit.
This is the second time I forgot mullein on the road when I needed it. Had I remembered it, we may have prevented this middle ear infection from happening, darnit!

Joey was of course given script of antibiotic and pain releiver. So that meant, no driving for him.

So a couple hours out of town, our traveling companion had a vehicle issue so we had to go off course to a nearby town to get parts.

This then changed the last 3 hours of driving route.

Once in Idaho Falls, I was then told we would need to drive through Victor, Idaho to get home to Jackson.

This caused me some internal concern because it meant I had to drive Piney Pass, then, my feared Teton pass.

It was 12 noon and I looked into the beautiful clear blue sky, and the moon was visible and appeared to be right over the pass.

I took that as a good omen that I would have to trust that I could make it over this mountain without sliding off or into another vehicle.

As we neared the piney pass, I kept looking for the moon to give me some hope. Also contemplating deeply how one of my fears would be soon faced with as I entered the new year.

Piney pass trip was fairly uneventful and nervously I arrived into Victor wondering how well this treck over the Teton pass would be.

I turned the music up to a pleasing volume, asked the children to be peaceful and explained to them that I was nervous.

I also decided I would do my best to make it over in 2 wheel drive unless it became dangerous. I felt I needed to just get up there and understand my car on this drive over.
My son woke up from his drug induced sleep and I begged him to go back to sleep because I was driving the pass the first time this winter and I would probably scare the living daylights out of him so he needed to go back to sleep.

Well I think he was so scared, he stayed awake.

As we neared the climb up, Queen's Fat Bottom Girls, you make the rockin world go round was playing on the radio. HOW FREAKIN APPROPRIATE! lol

As we reached the peak, the roadside was full of cars and skiers and snowboarders were enjoying the beautiful day. There was so much life up there on the mountain and joy hit my heart seeing these vibrant people LIVING!

So now, it was the travel down and needless to say, in 2 wheel drive, it was uneventful. Only one area of sliding around for us, but it was minimal.

Once at the bottom of the Teton Pass, and into the town of Wilson, I looked at my son and proclalimed my victory. I had to face one of my fears and I did well this time.
The divine powers that be have an interesting way of guiding you through things to help you to grow. And how interesting that I had to face a huge fear, after the new year on my way home to Jackson. We were not even suppose to have to travel near that pass, but come through Jackson a totally different way.

The moon, during mid day was there to give me courage. Her presence as if Gods face was watching saying, all is well, everything is going to be alright, I am here with you.

So, I suppose I may have more to blog about fear in time to come. Fear holds us back, and since this is a blog about being the best we can be in health and happiness, I had to include this today, not just to brag, nor comment of the divine's sense of humor, but to say, I HAVE FEAR and it is breaking loose people!

And the blessing for my kids in all that was for one, we did not slide off the mountain and they are alive today, but also as they were playing in the snow tonite, a moose came trecking across the snow right behind them. As if he were paying no attention to the boys playing right there. Moose can be pretty crazy, and when they ran into tell me, I was so thankful they did not run toward the moose and freak it out.
But even more grateful that they finally saw a moose. The kids have not been with me when I have spotted them this year and they felt quite cheated.

I promised them they would see moose in the winter and my words came to pass. Sometimes our children feel we are just blowing smoke when we promise them something that we cannot possibly make happen. But as history shows, the wildlife here do visit the town in the cold days of winter, and today was special for the boys to see it right before their eyes.
After the moose left, we went out to examine its tracks in the snow. Jon could barely go from footprint to footprint as it was such a long stretch between steps. So it was educational too.
Happy New Year...good things in store, beleive it! Hope is healthy!
In love, KR