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Herbal tid bits, plant talk, medicine making, ooing and awing of wilderness findings, updates and stories.

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Healing garden planMorgan Botanicals is doing another giveaway! I’ll be giving away a copy of my new Grow Your Own! Pre-Planned Healing Garden eBook.

Grow Your Own! Pre-Planned Healing Garden is an 88 page, full color PDF download that comes with an easy garden design including 20 medicinal herbs, in-depth materia medica for each plant, growing guidelines with tidbits and lore, harvesting, drying and processing guidelines, traditional uses and applications, energetics, recipes and so much more!

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garden books stack

Recently I’ve been recommended for a stipend and position of Lead School Garden Coordinator for the Truscott Elementary School in Loveland, CO. I work with the school staff, students, parents and the community teaching the fundamentals of community gardening, medicinal plant education and horticultural therapy for health and well-being. I’m also working towards an outdoor garden therapy program for the community to help foster emotional and physical health through the cultivation and processing of medicinal plants. 

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OakFor our ancient ancestors, many spirits and deities were associated with nature, wildlife, and plant growth. The most common is that of a pagan nature spirit, the Green Man, who is a symbol of man’s reliance on and union with nature, a symbol of the underlying life-force, and of the renewed cycle of growth each spring. It is likely that he evolved from older nature deities such as the Celtic Cernunnos and the Greek Pan and Dionysus.

Green Man is often depicted as a horned man peering out of a mask of foliage, usually the sacred oak. He is known by other names such as Green Jack, Jack-in-the-Green and Green George and represents spirits of trees, plants and foliage and is known to roam the woodlands. It is believed that he has rain making powers to foster livestock with lush green meadows. It is also believed by some that the Green Man shares an affinity with the forest-dwelling fairies since green is the fairy color.

Green Man is sometimes hung on walls to represent a common form of personal transformation in meditations or ritual. The icon of the face with leaves sprouting out is a representation of a personal visionary experience of "becoming" a green man or woman.

But Green itself,  is the universal healing color. The ancient Egyptians and Chinese used green as the primary color of healing because it is midway in the color spectrum; therefore, it contains both a physical nature and a spiritual nature, in equal balance and in equal harmony. Green is also the color of Nature and the Earth. It is balance and harmony in essence and possesses a soothing influence upon both mind and body. Thus, green can be used for just about any condition in need of healing. Green links with and stimulates the heart chakra too, and in a more practical sense, green affects blood pressure and all conditions of the heart. It has both an energizing effect and a moderating or soothing effect. So be around more green or wear green and you will be able to sense this colors healing ways.

Be Well

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cacao beanCacao. It evokes warmth, comfort, and passion doesn't it? Usually sweet passion. Many say that just thinking about cacao can evoke a pleasurable response. We crave it. But we crave lots of sensory feelings from things like music, aromatic smells, sultry tastes; because all of these senses bring out deep desires in us. Perhaps it’s the nature of the tree that gives chocolate some of its intense, exotic taste and pleasurable responses. The cacao trees flourish in the hot, drizzly, humid belt of the equator sheltered within the understory of the noisy evergreen rainforest. Their nature is hot, humid and energetically, a lot like our energized and passion-filled selves.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.” ~ Charles M. Schulz

I was blessed to spend some time with the cacao tree during one of my herbal immersion weekends with Heidi Jarvis from the School of Natural Medicine at the Denver Botanic Gardens last year. I think the ability to commune with nature is embedded deep within our bones and we don't have to be in the depths of the wilderness to enjoy this; a tree in our backyard, in a greenhouse or even a little houseplant in a pot has something to say. We sat with a lot of different medicine plants and trees that day, but the time spent in the greenhouse with the cacao tree was truly ripening. It was hot, steamy and wet….alot like the bedroom! And as we sat to commune with the tree, there was this feeling of nourishment and excitement. It was both stimulating and relaxing at the same time. It’s a very loving tree with a bewitching nature. Just her presence makes you feel loved. She reminded me to love myself, to be strong with self reliance, to keep connection between women, and that when we nurture ourselves we can then nurture others. Her tastes and smells strengthen the light body and etheric endorphins leading to feelings of euphoria, the release of sex hormones and spiritual wellbeing.

The cacao tree, which is also known as Madre Cacao, would be fairly easy to grow if you were to provide her with the perfect environment. You would just need to live in a tropical climate, or have the ability to grow her indoors, preferably in a giant shady and humid greenhouse. Cacao is a relatively small tree with deeply gnarled bark and a twisting trunk that reaches out at you to showcase her glorious fruit. And when you split open her fruit, you'll find cacao seeds encased in a sort of gooey white pulp. And from this comes the beloved cacao powder and cacao butter.

Cocoa butter comes from the cacao bean which is found inside the pod and is a huge leathery gourd-shaped fruit filled with sweet, mucilaginous fleshy white pulp called 'baba de cacao' in South America. After the beans are harvested, they’re fermented, dried, roasted and pressed. This process releases the vegetable fat from the beans, which we know as cocoa butter. Composed of a combination of edible saturated fats that are solid at room temperature, but liquid at human body temperature, cocoa butter is the reason that chocolate literally melts in our mouth. It’s used to make lip balms and salves, lotions, and pharmaceuticals such as suppositories. Using cacao butter topically on the skin is a treat like no other – it smells divine and leaves your skin glowing, vibrant, revitalized, soft and supple. Taste it, smell it, feel it on your skin - it’s euphoria for your senses!

Cocoa butter vs cacao butter
Cacao butter is the pure, cold-pressed oil of the cacao bean. Raw cacao butter production doesn’t exceed 46 degrees celcius, whilst cocoa butter might undergo some heating during the pressing process. Raw cacao butter is more nutrient dense but otherwise they are fully interchangeable. Both are edible, stable vegetable fats that can be used in cooking and in preparations of skin and beauty products.

Unrefined: Unrefined cocoa butter is simply cocoa butter in its raw form. It’s a creamy yellow color and smells just like chocolate.

Refined: Refined cocoa butter is stripped of its scent and color, making it suitable for herbals and cosmetic recipes where one does not want a product with an aroma of chocolate. However, heavy processing to eliminate color and scent also strips the healing property of the product itself.

Cocoa butter melts at skin temperature, and by gently warming it in the palms of the hands and then gliding it onto skin it becomes a wonderful massage oil as well as a wonderful addition to products like lip balms and body butters. Below is one of my favorite body butter/oils to nourish the skin, ourselves and our lovers. It’s a gift from the flesh of the beautiful Madre Cacao. Enjoy

Make your own bedroom Body Dessert - something fun for the lovers.

Raw cocoa butter is the key ingredient that gives chocolate that yummy, creamy and satisfying melt-in-your-mouth quality and it will do the same in on your skin. Body Dessert is an edible cacao butter, coconut butter and vanilla bean kissing and licking balm, and it’s good enough to eat! It’s a simple delight for all you wild lovers out there. Massage this organic and orgasmic body dessert balm any where you want to kiss or be kissed. It could very easily be scooped into a cup of coffee or stirred into some porridge too, but it's much better as a kissing balm!

To make:
1/4 cup organic raw cacao butter
1/4 cup organic coconut butter
1/4 cup organic unrefined virgin coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla bean extract
Seeds from 1/2 of a vanilla bean

Scoop butters, oils, and vanilla into a double boiler and gentle melt ingredients together. Once blended, pour into a pretty jar and allow to cool. Then enjoy! This body dessert makes a wonderful sensual massage balm and is safe for breasts, nipples, lips and personal areas.

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Today, my friends I beg your pardon, but I’d like to speak of my Victory Garden. With a hoe for a sword and citronella for armor, I ventured forth and became a farmer … Ogden Nash 1943

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