Friday, 30 December 2011

Herbal Ally

Finding a herbal ally
(taken from Kristine Brown’s blog Dancing in a Field of Tansy )

The idea of a herbal ally comes from Gail Faith Edwards in her book, “Opening our wild hearts to the healing herbs” She says
"Pick a new plant each year to focus on. Be sure to grow the plant, or meet it in the wild, observe it, make different medicines and foods with it, use it in many ways, consume it regularly, or use as applicable as often as possible, and constantly observe. Noting all you observe. Keeping your own notes is critically important. Learn to meditate with plants. Learn to take care of them, learn to process and use them, one by one. Fall in love with each and every plant you work with, one by one. Recognize the living being there, the spirit of the plant. Respect its power. Open your wild heart to it."
Susan Weed suggests “Choose a plant that grows very near to you ... no more than a one-minute walk from your door. You don't need to know the name of the plant, or anything about it. You will be sitting with your plant every day, so, if possible, choose one that grows in a quiet and lovely place ... in a pot on your balcony is just fine ... in a park is great ... so is an alley ... or a backyard. "
Susun offers six different green ally exercises to get to know the ally more intimately.
1. Meditate/sit and breathe with your green ally for 3-10 minutes a day
2. Make a detailed drawing of the ally as accurate as possible. Next make a soft, impressionistic drawing
3. Find out what parts of the ally are typically used. Find out if other parts are useful. Make oils, tinctures and vinegars of all the useful plant parts (separately)
4. Observe the conditions the plant chooses to grow in. 
5. Write a story from the point of view of your green ally. (If you have trouble getting started, write a warm up page praising your green ally and telling him/her how much you like him/her and why.
6. Introduce a friend to your green ally. Tell them all about your ally.

You may wish to include these other exercises
·         write a song about your green ally
·         write poems about your green ally
·         if edible, eat your green ally as often as possible
try your ally in tea form
·         start some seeds of your green ally so i can watch him grow from a seedling into full life
·         harvest your ally at all stages of growth
·         sketch, draw, paint your ally at all stages of growth

This was sent to me from Sarah head, whom I am doing a herbal apprenticeship with you can find her blog at   As the year unfolds I will be paying particular interest to the text above and posting my findings.
My herbal Ally Is without a doubt the Rose, this beautiful and wanderous flower that has been popular throughout the ages and appears in records going back some 3000 years.  Though popping in and out of fashion as a herbal remedy throughout the years, living in the wild in the northern hemisphere, wild variants of the rose can be found throughout the world from china to north america and new mexico. 
Amazingly, one of my favourite roses has just started to bud, I was quiet surprised, I know the weather is mild for this time of year, but this is totally out of character. None of my Other roses are budding, so really not sure what is going on with this one.I just hope it saves enough strength if we get a cold snap.
My Boyfriend bought me a lovely book on roses for Yule called "The Rose" by Jennifer Potter, I am swiftly reading through it and can very much recommend if you enjoy learning the history and superstitions. It is extremely well researched and Jennifer's enthusiasm for the Rose shines through every page. It is well laid out and written very well, perfect to read from back to back or dip in when it takes your fancy. I think it will stay on my bookshelf forever. Yes I am extremely impressed.  Although I think my boyfriend is now getting a little bored of me saying how great it is and giving him tidbits of information. 
My love of roses started when I was about 7, we had a beautiful tea rose directly outside our front door, It mesmerised me for many years. Its beautiful light pink large flowers and the heavenly delicate scent led me to make many lotions potions and perfumes from its blooms. I will never know the exact variety which saddens me as I would love to have one outside my home now, welcoming friends to our home. I even once entered a single bloom into our village fete competitions, It won first Prize, I still have the card to this day. It brings back many wonderful memories of my childhood living in the countryside. As I have grown, my love for roses has never faulted , I think it will be my favorite flower for forever and a day.
Over the last year, I have used Rose a lot  in tincture form, using the simplars method of filling a jar with highly scented petals, I love the apothecary rose for this (gallica officinale), its deep warm scent is just divine. Then covering with a good brandy, I usually put in dark place for 2-3 weeks shaking occasionally. Then strain through a muslin cloth and bottle up. I hope to use many other parts of the rose in the upcoming year and make lots of other remedies such as vinegar and rose water.
I will add lots more about the rose as I research more and more, my wish list for books is growing by the hour, and this post is shorter than I first thought due to flitting to various web pages and such.
I have printed off two beautiful pictures to make a notebook with just for my meanderings with this beautiful plant.
Medicinal uses
The rose has had numerous uses acclaimed to it over the centuries, however it speaks to me most with its happy energy, perhaps not a medicinal use per say, but I feel it is just as important. I little of the tincture when feeling low lifts the spirits, I call it my happiness herb, yes its a bit fluffy but it works.
Its cooling nature is great for mild burns and sunburn, rose water or vinegar are good for this with topical application. 
the dog rose hips contain high levels of anti oxidants and vitamin C, which aids the immune system, helping ward of colds and infection. Extra Vitamin C is also essential for smokers more information can be found here , although the vitamin C content of the rose hip will not make up the full dose needed it will certainly be a welcome boost.
Rose vinegar is said to relieve headaches caused by heat, simply apply to a cloth and place on your head and relax for a while. There are lots more, that I will be writing about in the upcoming months, so keep your eyes peeled.
Blessed Be :)

I know its probably silly, but I am one very happy lady right now, I am 99% sure I have found the rose that grew outside my front door as a child   I have searched for years and never come close, but this looks like it, off to order it with my yule money now - thankyou Daddy :D

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