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~ Herbal Medicine with Susun Weed ~

April 2002 ~ Volume 2 Number 4

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What's Inside Weed Wanderings this Month...

Feature Article
Prepare for Spring - Making Herbal Vinegar

Book Review
Common Herbs for Natural Health

Ask Susun Weed
You are invited to call Susun's Free hotline on blogtalkradio, Tuesday nights 7:30-9:30 pm EST. Call in with your questions 1-646-929-2463.
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Recipe of the Month
           Remedies for Stings

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Extra Feature
Story of the Moon Goddess


by Susun S. Weed



Spring is in the air. Buds are swelling, sap is running, the night is alive with sounds after winter's long silence. It's too soon to plant anything in the garden; there's still deep frost in the ground. But the snow is gone and the weeds are green and my supply of herbal vinegars is low, so I'll spend the morning harvesting.

A pantry full of herbal vinegars is a constant delight. Preserving fresh herbs and roots in vinegar is an easy way to capture their nourishing goodness. It's easy, too. You don't even have to have an herb garden.

Basic Herbal Vinegar
Takes 5 minutes plus 6 weeks to prepare

You will need:
glass or plastic jar of any size up to one quart/liter
plastic lid for jar or
waxed paper and a rubber band
fresh herbs, roots, weeds
one quart/liter apple cider vinegar

Fill any size jar with fresh-cut aromatic herbs. (See accompanying list for suggestions of herbs that extract particularly well in vinegar.) For best results and highest mineral content, be sure the jar is well filled with your chosen herb, not just a few springs, and be sure to cut the herbs or roots up into small pieces.
Pour room-temperature apple cider vinegar into the jar until it is full. Cover jar with a plastic screw-on lid, several layers of plastic or wax paper held on with a rubber band, or a cork. Vinegar disintegrates metal lids.

Label the jar with the name of the herb and the date. Put it some place away from direct sunlight, though it doesn't have to be in the dark, and someplace that isn't too hot, but not too cold either. A kitchen cupboard is fine, but choose one that you open a lot so you remember to use your vinegar, which will be ready in six weeks.

Apple cider vinegar has been used as a health-giving agent for centuries. Hippocrates, father of medicine, is said to have used only two remedies: honey and vinegar. A small book on Vermont folk remedies--primary among them being apple cider vinegar--has sold over 5 million copies since its publication in the fifties. A current ad in a national health magazine states that vinegar can give me a longer, healthier, happier life. Among the many powers of vinegar: it lowers cholesterol, improves skin tone, moderates high blood pressure, prevents/counters osteoporosis, and improves metabolic functioning. Herbal vinegars are an unstoppable combination: the healing and nutritional properties of vinegar married to the aromatic and health-protective effects of green herbs (and a few wild roots).

Herbal vinegars don't taste like medicine. In fact, they taste so good I use them frequently. I pour a spoonful or more on beans and grains at dinner; I use them in salad dressings; I season stir-fry and soups with them. This regular use boosts the nutrient- level of my diet with very little effort and virtually no expense. Sometimes I drink my herbal vinegar in a glass of water in the morning, remembering the many older women who've told me that apple cider vinegar prevents and eases their arthritic pains. I aim to ingest a tablespoon or more of mineral-rich herbal vinegar daily. Not just because herbal vinegars taste great (they do!), but because they offer an easy way to keep my calcium levels high (and that's a real concern for a menopausal woman of fifty). Herbal vinegars are so rich in nutrients that I never need to take vitamin or mineral pills.

Why vinegar? Water does a poor job of extracting calcium from plants, but calcium and all minerals dissolve into vinegar very easily. You can see this for yourself. Submerge a bone in vinegar for six weeks. What happens? The bone becomes pliable and rubbery. Why? The vinegar extracted the minerals from the bone. (And now the vinegar is loaded with calcium and other bone-building minerals!)

After observing this trick its not unusual to fear that if you consume vinegar your bones will dissolve. But you'd have to take off your skin and sit in vinegar for weeks in order for that to happen! Adding vinegar to your food actually helps build bones because it frees up minerals from the vegetables you eat. Adding a splash of vinegar to cooked greens is a classic trick of old ladies who want to be spry and flexible when they're ancient old ladies. (Maybe your granny already taught you this?) In fact, a spoonful of vinegar on your broccoli or kale or dandelion greens increases the calcium you get by one-third.

All by itself, vinegar helps build bones; and when it's combined with mineral-rich herbs, vinegar is better than calcium pills. Some people worry that eating vinegar will contribute to an overgrowth of candida yeast in the intestines. My experience has led me to believe that herbal vinegars do just the opposite; perhaps because they're so mineral rich. Herbal vinegars are especially useful for anyone who can't (or doesn't want to) drink milk. A tablespoon of infused herbal vinegar has the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk.

So out the door I go, taking a basket and a pair of scissors, my warm vest and my gloves, to see what I can harvest for my bone-building vinegars. The first greens to greet me are the slender spires of garlic grass, or wild chives, common in any soil that hasn't been disturbed too frequently, such as the lawn, the part of the garden where the tiller doesn't go, the rhubarb patch, the asparagus bed, the coven of comfrey plants. This morning they're all offering me patches of oniony greens. Snip, snip, snip. The vinegar I'll make from these tender tops will contain not only minerals, but also allyls, special cancer-preventative compounds found in raw onions, garlic, and the like.

Here where tulips will push up soon, in a sunny corner, is a patch of catnip intermingled with motherwort, two plants especially beloved by women. I use catnip to ease menstrual cramps, relieve colic, and bring on sleep. Motherwort is my favorite remedy for moderating hot flashes and emotional swings. They are both members of the mint family, and like all mints, are exceptionally good sources of calcium and make great-tasting vinegars. Individual mint flavors are magically captured by the vinegar. From now until snow cover next fall, I'll gather the mints of each season--peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, bee balm, oregano, shiso, wild bergamot, thyme, hyssop, sage, rosemary, lavender--and activate their unique tastes and their tonic, nourishing properties by steeping them in vinegar. What a tasty way to build strong bones, a healthy heart, emotional stability, and energetic vitality..

Down here, under the wild rose hedge, is a plant familiar to anyone who has walked the woods and roadsides of the east: garlic mustard. I'll enjoy the leaves in my salad tonight, as I do all winter and spring, but I'll have to wait a bit longer before I can harvest the roots, which produce a vibrant, horseradishy vinegar that's just the thing to brighten a winter salad and keep the sinuses clear at the same time.
And what's this? A patch of chickweed! It's a good addition to my vinegars and my salads, boosting their calcium content, though adding scant flavor. In protected spots, she offers year-round greens.

Look down. The mugwort is sprouting, all fuzzy and grey. I call it cronewort to honor the wisdom of grey-haired women. The culinary value of this very wild herb is oft o'erlooked. I was thrilled to find it for sale in Germany right next to the dried caraway and rosemary, in a little jar, in the supermarket. Cronewort vinegar is one of the tastiest and most beneficial of all the vinegars I make. It is renowned as a general nourishing tonic to circulatory, nervous, urinary, and mental functioning, as well as being a specific aid to those wanting sound sleep and strong bones.

Cronewort vinegar is free for the making in most cities if you know where this invasive weed grows. To mellow cronewort's slightly bitter taste and accent her fragrant, flavorful aspects, I pick her small (under three inches) and add a few of her roots to the jar along with the leaves. I cut the tall flowering stalks of this aromatic plant in the late summer or early autumn, when they're in full bloom, and dry them. The leaves, stripped carefully from the stalks, provided stuffing (and magic) for our winter dream pillows; they are said to carry one into vivid dreams and visions.

The sun is bright and strong and warm. I turn my face toward it and close my eyes, breathing in. I feel the vibrating life-force here. Everything is aquiver. I smile, knowing that that energy will be available to me when I consume the vinegars I'll make from these herbs and weeds. As I relax against the big oak, I breathe out and envision the garden growing and blooming, fruiting and dying, as the seasons slip through my mind's eye....

The air grows chiller at night. The leaves fall more quickly with each breeze. The first mild frosts take the basil, the tomatoes and the squash, freeing me to pay attention once again to the perennial herbs and weeds, and urging me to make haste before even the hardy herbs drop their leaves and retreat to winter dormancy.

The day dawns sunny. Yes, now's the time to harvest the last of the garden's bounty, the rewards of my work, the gifts of the earth. I dress warmly (remembering to wear red; hunting season's open), stash my red-handled clippers in my back pocket, and take a baskets in one hand and a plastic tub in the other.
Then I'm out the door, into autumn's slanting sunshine and my quiet garden. My black cat bounds over to help me harvest and, after a while, the white cat emerges from under the house to purr and signal her satisfaction with my presence in her domain this morning.

My gardening friends say the harvest is over for the year, but I know my weeds will keep my at work harvesting until well into the winter. In no time at all my deep basket is full and I'm wishing I'd brought another. Violet leaves push against stalks of lamb's quarter. Hollyhock, wild malva, and plantain leaves jostle for their own spaces against the last of the comfrey and dandelion leaves. (I think dandelion leaves are much better eating in the fall than in the spring, much less bitter to my taste after they've been frosted a few nights.) The last of the red clover blossoms snuggle in the middle. Though not aromatic or intensely-flavored, a vinegar of these greens will be my super-rich calcium supplement for the dark months of winter.

My baskets are overflowing and I haven't gotten to the nettles and the raspberry leaves yet. They're superb sources of calcium, too. Ah! the gracious abundance of weeds, or should I say "volunteer herbs?" I actually respect them more than the cultivated herbs; respect their strident life force, and their powerful nutritional punch, and their added medicinal values that help me stay healthy and filled with energy.

The main work of this frosty fall morning is to harvest roots: dandelion, burdock, yellow dock, and chicory roots. I've been waiting for the frost to bite deep before harvesting the nourishing, medicinal roots of these weeds. With my spading fork (not a shovel, please) I carefully unearth their tender roots, leaving a few to mature and shed seeds so I have a constant supply of young roots. I love the feel of the root sliding free of the soil and into my hands, offering me such gifts of health.

Burdock I admire especially, for its strength of character and its healing qualities. I settle down to do some serious digging to unearth their long roots. For peak benefit, I harvest at the end of the first year of growth, when the roots are most tenacious and least willing to leave the ground. Patience is rewarded when I dig burdock. Eaten cooked or turned into a vinegar (and the pickled pieces of the root consumed with the vinegar), burdock root attracts heavy metals and radioactive isotopes and removes them quickly from the body. For several hundred years at least, and in numerous cases that I have witnessed, burdock root is known to reverse pre-cancerous changes in cells.

Dandelion and chicory are my allies for long life. They support and nourish my liver and improve the production of hydrochloric acid in my stomach, thus insuring that I will be better nourished by any food I eat. I make separate vinegars of each plant, but like to put both their roots and their leaves together in my vinegar. A spoonful of either of these in a glass of water in the morning or before meals can be used to replace coffee. Note that roasted roots used in coffee substitutes do not have the medicinal value of fresh roots eaten cooked or preserved in vinegar.

Yellow dock is the herbalist's classic remedy for building iron in the blood. Like calcium, iron is absorbed better when eaten with an acid, such as vinegar, making yellow dock vinegar an especially good way to utilize the iron-enhancing properties of this weed. (It nourishes the iron in the soil, too, and is said to improve the yield of apple trees it grows under.)

And at that thought, I awaken from my reverie and return to spring's sunshine with a smile. The white cat twines my legs and offers to help me carry the basket back inside to the warmth of the fire. The circle has come around again, like the moon in her courses. Autumn memories yield spring richness. The weeds of fall offer tender green magic in the spring. What I harvested last November has been eaten with joy and I return to be gifted yet again by the wild that lives here with me in my garden.

To learn more check out Healing Wise by Susun Weed (Click here to read a review)

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Common Herbs for Natural Health
by Juliette de Bairacli Levy
Foreword by Rosemary Gladstar
Paperback - 236 pages
Published by Ash Tree Publishing

"This is the book that got me started in herbal medicine. It's solid gold; not only useful but incredibly fascinating." Susun Weed

Juliette and Susun, Fall 2001

Common Herbs for Natural Health includes: lore and uses for 200 herbs including cosmetic, culinary, and medical recipes. Juliette de Bairacli Levy is famed for her mastery of herbal lore and her many books on living in tune with nature. Re-indexed, re-designed, and expanded.

Foreword by Rosemary Gladstar

Many years ago, when I was just beginning my work as an herbalist, I
discovered in our small town library a grand old book called Common Herbs for
Natural Health. Even then it had that well-loved look that books tend to
acquire with age and use, and its pages were well dog-eared. Unsuspectingly,
having no idea how that book would affect me, I checked it out of the
library. Thus began, quite innocently, a lifetime love of herbs and an equal
devotion to the author.

I can truthfully say that the book changed my life — and many other
people's as well. All of Juliette's books have a tendency to do that, but
Common Herbs for Natural Health, a modern herbal classic, seems to penetrate
people's hearts directly. Perhaps it is because she talks so personally of
her own love affair with herbs, her use of herbs throughout her life, and the
many adventures she encountered as an herbalist as she traveled Gypsy-like
throughout the world. She evokes a sense of adventure and freedom that seems
to evade many people these days, and reawakens our own personal dreams of a
more natural way of living in harmony with the world.

Throughout this endearing book, Juliette shares many of her favorite
recipes and herbs. But it is more than the written word that inspires the
reader when reading the books of Juliette de Bairacli Levy. She possess that
rare ability to open people's hearts to the wonders of herbs and the earth,
and to our responsibility as caretakers of the green world. And she is able,
through her words, to impart the essence of what herbalism is. Many
herbalists today acknowledge that their own work with herbs was deeply
inspired by the teachings and writings of Juliette de Bairacli Levy. In fact,
it may be that this small Gypsy woman had a more profound influence on
American herbalism than any other individual in the last several decades.

I had the great privilege of escorting Juliette on her first visit to the
United States after many years of absence. She had been living like a hermit
on a small, remote island in Greece, a lifestyle that pleases her
tremendously. Her frequent travels had taken her to many places in the
Mediterranean, Europe, the Azores, and other spots on the globe that she
could find that remained unspoiled. But she hadn't been back to the States
since the writing of her book, A Gypsy in New York, in the early fifties. Her
trip here entailed attending several conferences as a noted guest.

Everywhere we went I was amazed at the numbers of people who flocked to
her, almost reverently, tenderly carrying long treasured copies of her books
to be signed. Each person seemed to have a personal story of how her books
and the recipes and the remedies scattered throughout them had helped a pet,
a child, a friend. Common Herbs for Natural Health was one of the books most
often seen at these meetings. Copies of her books were always old and
definitely well marked with telltale signs of use. Whole families would come,
parents with their children and their children's children, all raised by the
principals set forth in her books.

One incident in particular stands out. Juliette was doing a book signing
at a small herb store in Montpelier, Vermont. People were lined up in the
hallway and down the street waiting to talk to her. Though well into her
eighth decade of life, she was pert and attentive throughout the entire
evening, taking the time not only to sign each book lovingly, but to converse
with each individual. Toward the end of the evening, an older woman who had
been waiting patiently for her turn approached Juliette. Behind her came her
adult daughter and her son-in-law, trailed by a clan of radiantly healthy
children. Here was an entire family of seven, from grandmother to daughter to
son to grandchildren, passing the herbal tradition along as it had been
passed for generations. And there sat Juliette, that grand old herbalist,
reveling in the stories told of how the parents had used this and that remedy
from her books over the years, and the remarkable results they had

It reminded me of my own experience using Juliette's books as guides for
my own family's health throughout the years. My primary references were
Common Herbs for Natural Health, and Nature's Children. Having been raised by
the principles set forth in these books, my son, Jason, now a father himself,
uses those same old beloved copies as guides for his own boy's health. When
Jason, as an adult, met Juliette for the first time, his greeting to her was,
"Ah! At last I meet the woman I have heard about all my life and who helped
raise me!"

Though there is a plethora of new and excellent herb books available,
Juliette's book remains, unquestionably, one of the most important and one
that should be included in the library of everyone who loves herbs. Readers
will find invaluable information, herbal recipes and formulas, and health
hints, but even more, they may find, as thousands of readers before them,
their very souls being infused with the spirit and essence of herbs.
May all the beauty of nature surround you.

Rosemary Gladstar
Sage Mountain, Vermont
November 5, 1996


Herbal medicine is man's rightful medicine: The powers of herbs cannot be
denied. From the days of the early caveman to the present time when human
beings are soaring to the moon, people have used herbs to promote and
safeguard health, and to heal disease. Herbs have also been used very
successfully for healing the ills of those animals which man has domesticated.

Some of us have special skills with herbs, and we call ourselves
herbalists. This skill is an inheritance and is also highly developed amongst
the wandering people of the world, especially the Gypsies, Bedouin Arabs, and
the American and Mexican Indians (nomadic people known to me, and there are
many others in lands to which so far I have not traveled). I have sought
herbal knowledge from those wandering tribes, living with them and loving
them, and much that I have learnt can be found in this book, and in my
earlier herbal for farm and stable animals.

This twentieth century has seen a universal revival of and interest in
herbal medicine. For herbal remedies were fast fading from memory: Thirty
years ago, when I began writing about herbs for veterinary use, I was quite
alone; now thousands are at my side. Further, herbs are to an increasing
extent coming back into orthodox medicine. Many have always held their place

Mankind cannot forsake herbs. They are promised in the Bible to the human
race, and that promise is well known, for it is proudly quoted in almost
every herbal. In the Old and New Testaments there are over a dozen mentions
of herbs or medicinal trees of value to mankind, for food or medicine. That
out forefathers valued an herb garden is shown in Ahab's plea to Naboth (I
Kings 21:2): "Give me thy vineyard that I might have it for a garden of
herbs, because it is near unto my house."

Man can never excel Nature in medicine manufacture, for she makes the
best ones. There is an herb or several herbs to cure or relieve every ailment
of man and animal, bird and insect; and herbs applied to agricultural
practice will even cure crops of their diseases.

The human race should make a study of herbs and not be content to remain
ignorant of a medicine which is man's rightful inheritance, and which has
only become lost to men through their ignorance and laziness and their
departure from natural living. People should not be content to pay high
prices for chemical medicines, which are seldom beneficial to the human body
because they are unnatural, and which are very often harmful, their total
effects being unknown. Instead they should learn to know the wild medicinal
plants — the herbs — which are free for the gathering. Teeming in the
countryside, the world over, are medicinal herbs and edible plants; it shows
disbelief in the power of God to pass them by.

My two children, now grown up, have never had other than herbal
treatments in their lives, and have always taken an abundance of wild herbs
and fruits in their daily diet. They are both Nature children, enjoying
rugged health. When my son was a child, in Spain, his leg was cut almost to
the bone by jagged blocks falling from a newly built wall. I healed this
injury speedily, using only rosemary. Rosemary has remained my favorite herb
ever since; I use it more than any other herb and cultivate it wherever I
live. It was also a favorite of a queen of Hungary, and a lotion from it was
known to the Gypsies as "The Queen of Hungary's Water." It was sold by
Hungarian Gypsies on their far travels and won worldwide fame for its healing

In Israel, where I have lived for many years, I have learnt to make much
use of Rue. Its medicinal properties have proved so excellent in my herbal
work that I understand why Mahomet chose this herb for his blessing and why
Arabs everywhere plant it in their gardens to protect their homes against
"the evil eye."

My present work is largely in agriculture, and the use of herbs has given
me crops and trees of exceptional health and size, which have attracted the
interest of the experts and brought me encouragement from those who believe
in natural agriculture. Also by growing bee herbs I have kept my hives of
bees entirely disease-free in a region where that lethal bee disease, foul
brood, has been rife and very close to my hives.

My publishers have asked me to write this herbal for general human use,
following my several herbals on veterinary medicine, and have left me
entirely free to decide as to the kind of herbal to be written.

All the herbal treatments in this book are safe and well proven. The
poisonous herbs (which also have their uses) I have not included in this
book, as in most cases there are similar non-poisonous herbs which can be
employed in their stead. The same applies to the recipes. I have only
included simple ones with ingredients easy to obtain.

For those readers interested in a more detailed study of herbs and herbal
treatments, and in the use of trees in medicine, I have my veterinary herbal
for farm and stable, with over seventy pages of materia medica. All those
veterinary treatments can be applied for human use, and have been so applied
through many years. That book, Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable, is
published by Faber and Faber. It is in most libraries for those who want to
see what it is about. I was happy and surprised to obtain a good review of it
in such orthodox publications as The Farmer's Weekly and The Field (of

In this present book are included many new medicinal herbs and herbal
treatments of my own discovery, and hitherto unpublished ones that I have
collected on my travels. I hope that it may help newcomers to herbs to
discover the wonder of herbal medicine. And I hope that for those who already
possess herbal knowledge it may provide a little that is new, and help to
strengthen their faith and pride in this great and ancient form of healing.

Juliette de Bairacli Levy

Order It Now

Check out the Herbal Medicine Starter Collection

Includes four great herbals: A City Herbal by Maida Silverman, Healing Wise by Susun S. Weed, Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs by Gail Edwards, and Common Herbs for Natural Health by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. If you are curious about herbal medicine and want to learn more, this collection for you!

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Extra Feature...

The Story of the Moon Goddess

by Trudelle Thomas

Excerpt from: Moon Days - Creative Writings About Menstruation

"The Story of the Moon Goddess," ends the third section of the book, a culmination of celebrations of positive visions of menstruation for girls and women. In this story, young Helena is visited by a Moon Goddess who teaches her to love herself, not only at puberty but all through her life. The Moon Goddess gives Helena a great gift-a Moontime Journal-to record not only her fears but also her hopes and dreams. The story ends as Helena passes the Moon Goddess' gifts to her daughter, Nacole, as she leaves her own cycles behind.

Once upon a time, there lived a young girl named Helena. Twelve years old, she was eager to become a woman. Her mother had told her about the beautiful Moon Goddess who would visit Helena soon to awaken in her the seeds of life. Her mother spoke of the first time the goddess had visited her, clad in a white robe, and with a voice as tender and caressing as the light of the moon. She gave Helena a small glow-in-the-dark star to place in the window to let the Moon Goddess know she was welcome.
Helena was nervous! She put the star in the corner of her window. There it remained, night after night. Months passed. Helena waited.

One night it finally happened. She awoke from a dream and there, in front of her bedroom window, in a pool of moonlight stood the Moon Goddess. She was even more beautiful than Helena expected: tall, with a ruddy, freckled face, and wearing a gleaming white robe that flowed from her shoulders, over her bosom and curving body, and down her long, muscular legs. The robe reached nearly to the floor.

Her sweet voice filled the room. "My dear Helena, the time has come for our meeting. Your body is ready. Since even before your birth, seeds of life have been waiting. Tonight I come to awaken them!"
Helena leaned against her pillow. She didn't know what to say yet she felt great peace and happiness just in being in the presence of the goddess.

The shining goddess continued to speak. "Beginning now, the seeds of life will start to flow in your body. Each cycle of the moon one seed will ripen and flow forth. The door to motherhood has opened. Your body has the power to grow a new human being!"

"But I'm not ready to grow a human being!" Helena felt a little terrified. She looked pale in the moonlight.
"My darling girl, don't worry. It's a very slow becoming, very slow," said the goddess. "Let me explain. I know you've heard about the biological part: the ovaries, and fallopian tubes, and the uterus. I'm her to tell you about the most important part-the magic of it.

"The seeds of motherhood are only one part of your transformation. The same power that releases them will cause your body to change: your breasts will grow, your hips will curve and your body will begin to become a woman's body. You will hurt sometimes, but that's part of the becoming.

"And your feelings will grow too! You will be able to love other people in a way you never have before! Your understanding of the world will deepen. Oh, Helena-this is the crossing over point for you! Your power as a woman will be released."

"Gee willickers," said Helena. "I'm not sure I'm ready."

"You are ready to start. Remember, the becoming is slow." The Moon Goddess leaned down and placed a rose on Helena's pillow. "I'll come again to help you. And don't forget," the Goddess leaned down and whispered in Helena's ear-"boys never get to meet me." With that she disappeared.

The next morning when Helena awoke, she found the mark of blood, hidden in the folds of her clothes. She knew from her mother's stories that this was a reminder of the visit of the Moon Goddess. Her mother bought her a big bouquet of roses, and they celebrated with a tea party, just the two of them.

Before many months had passed, Helena awoke again in the night to find the Moon Goddess standing at the foot of her bed. As before, she was tall and ruddy, and strong, and her gown shone in the moonlight.
"Helena, my darling, I've come to give the help I promised."

"Oh, dear Moon Goddess, I'm so happy to see you. The changes you spoke of have begun." This time Helena was no longer afraid. She felt happy and excited in the presence of the goddess.
"For the next forty years I will come to visit you. Sometimes you will wake and see me. Other times only the mark of blood will let you know I've been here. When you see the red stain, remember the roses your mother gave you-plump roses, crimson and bursting with life-roses to remind you of the power of life inside you."

"It's such a big change for me," said Helena.

"Please listen closely, my darling. When you see my mark, it must be a reminder to you to cherish your body and your soul. Every morning, when you wake up, before you dress, I want you to stand naked before your mirror and thank your body for the power of life it holds."

"That's so embarrassing!" giggled Helena.

"Stand alone in your room and look at each part, one by one. Thank each part and rejoice in it. There may be seasons in your life when others adore your body, and seasons when they make fun of it. Through all the seasons, I want you to give thanks to this dear body."

"But it's so funny looking! My legs are bony. My breasts look like mosquito bites!" giggled Helena.
"That's all the more reason to thank it. Your body is yours-it's been given to serve you and to give you pleasure. But it has a life of its own-and it may never look the way you think it should. Give your body the respect and love that you would give any cherished friend. When you respect her, other people will too."
"I'll try," Helena whispered. Again, the Moon Goddess placed a rose on Helena's pillow and disappeared.
In the mornings that followed, Helena stood naked before the mirror and gave thanks to each part of her body-her nose and her ears and her freckles, her elbows and her privates and her legs. At first, she was a little embarrassed but as time passed she liked the feeling of pride that she felt.

A few more months went by and again the Moon Goddess appeared in Helena's bedroom. By now she felt so comfortable with the goddess that she wasn't even surprised when she opened her eyes to her shining white robes and smiling face. This time, the Moon Goddess sat on the edge of Helena's bed as she talked.

"Since you've done such a good job of thanking your body every day, my darling, I've come to give you some more advice. Keep standing before the mirror every morning. Here's something else that I'd like you to try.

"Remember: the mark of blood is a sign you must cherish both your body and your soul. Each moon-cycle, I want you take some time to hide away alone to a secret place. Find a place where you can be alone to think your own thoughts and dream your own dreams. Maybe it will be an attic corner or a branch in a tree or a hide-away near a creek. Just so it's secret and beautiful and safe. Tell only your mother. It will be your special holy place. Then, look for other times to get away as well.

"I want you to protect your hide-way now as a maiden, and even more when you are a grown woman. As you grow up, you'll understand why. Then, I think you should go take yourself out to lunch regularly, and maybe take some vacations all alone."

Now the Moon Goddess handed Helena a book, bound in fabric printed with pink a red roses. When Helena opened it, she saw that its pages were blank. The Goddess spoke again, "This is your Moontime Journal. Write about your hopes and dreams in it. Write down any night time dreams you have, too. It will help you to be true to your best self. And here are some more ideas: some of my girls save their moontime blood in a stone chalice. Others take the blood and pour it on their plants to help them grow. Think about it. It's precious." With that, the goddess vanished.

Years passed, and every month the Moon Goddess visited Helena, leaving her red mark. Sometimes she caught a glimpse of the goddess, but more often she didn't.

Often on a clear night, Helena gazed at the moon overhead and prayed silently her thanks for the changes in her life.

As she got to know the goddess, Helena learned that she had many moods. She could be unpredictable, sometimes slipping in early and unannounced. Other times she held off her visit days or even weeks, leaving Helena to wonder where she might be. Sometimes her visits were quiet, other times stormy and overwhelming. Sometimes Helena hurt so much that she wanted to holler at the goddess. Still, when she remembered to cherish her body and soul, the visits left a sweet memory.

In time, Helena found a mate and gave birth to her first child-a daughter she named Nacole. More children followed, and with each one Helena rejoiced in the power of her body to grow and change and produce new life. She rejoiced, too, in the power of her mind and heart to grow as her life changed.

She still wrote in her Moontime Journal. One time she made a list of some of the gifts the goddess had given her:

I am proud of my body, she wrote.
Nobody takes me for granted.
I know I have an important life to live.
I speak my mind.
Next year I will run in a marathon.
I never drink Slim-fast.
I buy myself silk underwear sometimes.
I take baths by candlelight while my husband watches the kids.
I never wear shoes that pinch.
I love all the roses she's left, and my plants are thriving.

The Moon Goddess continued her visits each moon cycle. Only when Helena carried a child in her womb or at her breast did the goddess fail to leave her mark of blood. Perhaps she knew that the child herself was proof enough of her presence. Helena rejoiced in the milk that flowed through her breasts-visible proof of the power of life in her.

More years passed and young Nacole was ready to meet the Moon Goddess. Like her mother before her, Helena gave Nacole her little glow-in-the-dark star and told her about the tall and beautiful goddess with the gleaming white robe and the voice like music. One night when Nacole was twelve, the Moon Goddess appeared in Helena's room. She was as beautiful as ever. "Helena, I have some more advice to you. Now that Nacole is a maiden, promise me that you will pass on to her your pride in womanhood. Let her find delight in her body, never shame. Help her cherish her life. Help her eat healthy foods and maybe run track and speak up at school and everywhere. Celebrate her intelligence and her talents.

"Let your daughter know that she has unique gifts for the world-ones that no one else can give. Can you promise me this?"

"How could you ever doubt me?" said Helena. "I've already bought her a Moontime Journal. We've made a womb-sculpture for our garden!"

"Well, here's a gift for you, my love." The Moon Goddess handed Helena a pearl necklace that shone white in the moonlight.

The next month, the Moon Goddess visited young Nacole. Like her mother before her, Helena celebrated the happy crossing over with a bunch of roses and a tea party. In the years that followed, mother and daughter often gave each other roses as a joyful reminder of the power they shared.

In time, the Moon Goddess's visits to Helena grew rare. She sensed that she was about to enter a new stage of her life, and she remembered again the excitement of being twelve years old and full of questions. One night the Moon Goddess appeared again, filling her bedroom with moonlight and her musical voice.
"My beloved Helena, after tonight, my visits will dwindle. It has been forty years. Together we have been through so much-we have become deep friends. I am proud of the life that has flowed from you. Now you are ready for the next level. Soon my dear sister, the Wisdom Goddess, will visit. Because you have become a wise woman, you will need no mark to know her presence. She will come again and again for the rest of your life, and through all that time life and wisdom will flow through you.

And so it happened that both Helena and her daughter Nacole lived to be beautiful, spirited, and happy old women. The goddesses stayed true to their promises, filling their households with peace and pleasure. Even in times of disappointment or sorrow-for they still had sorrows-both mother and daughter knew that the goddesses would return and heal all hurts.

When Helena passed out of the earthly world, full of wisdom and years, Nacole and her own daughter planted a rosebush on the grave.

The end
and the beginning.

Story of the Moon Goddess, by Trudell Thomas, is part of a collection of short stories on menstruation from Moon Days, Creative Writings About Menstruation, edited by Cassie Preemo Steele. This story was written in honor of her twelve-year-old niece, Caitlin Helena Thomas.

Editor: Cassie Premo Steele, Ph.D. A literary, passionate, and profound collection. Twenty-six writers explore the "silent" parts of women's lives; reawakening our memories of embarrassment and shame and transforming them to wonder, excitement, and laughter.
176 pages, illustrations.
Retails for $13.95 Order at:

Read a review of Moon Days

Find out about moonlodges held at the Wise Woman Center


~RECIPE of the MONTH ~

Remedies for Stings

The basis for successful treatment of stings is immediate action. Do not let stings and bites from insects and animals stay untreated, to inflame and swell.

1. Ants. Pulp up some cloves of garlic or take slices of raw onion and apply
at once. Further soothe the irritated parts with cucumber juice or pulped
parsley or garlic in vinegar.

2. Bees and Wasps. First remove the sting, ten press out the poison from the
skin. Soothe the fire of the sting with a paste of whitewash. After an hour,
wash off, as whitewash itself lightly burns the skin. Then soothe with herbal
oil, and bind over with leaves of dock or plantain. Or apply parsley or
garlic in vinegar, as above for ant bites.

3. Scorpions, Poisonous Spiders, Medusae (jellyfish). If first-aid is
necessary, cut the place with the point of a sharp knife and press or suck
out (of course, not swallowing) all the surface poison. Then apply pulped
leaves of wormwood, rue, and sage, as available. Preferably heat the leaves
for a few minutes in hot water to make their volatile oils more easily
available to the human skin. Bind in place with cotton bandages soaked in a
mixture of hot water and vinegar, equal parts. Even more effective is an
application of extracted oils of wormwood, rue and rosemary (see pages 7-8),
if available, likewise covering with bandages soaked in hot vinegar water. (I
have cured numerous cases of severe bites, several being from the giant
species of scorpion, considered fatal, using this treatment.) The most
effective and the speediest remedies are the essential oils of these herbs
applied on swabs of cotton wool first dampened in hot water.

4. Mosquitoes and Midges. To keep away when spending evenings out of doors:
Gather some of the aromatic herbs, such as sage, southernwood, rue, rosemary,
elecampane and others, add some dry paper or dry grass, place in quite large
open cans, sprinkle the herbs with paraffin and ignite. The pungent smoke
will clear the air of mosquitoes and kindred biting insects. The Mexican
Indians burn thuja pine.

Excerpt from Common Herbs for Natural Health by Juliette de Bairacli Levy

NEW LINKS to check out...

Flora Medicina - école d'herboristerie - Green Witch Burdock, apprenticed at the Wise Woman Centre in 1993 and have, since, founded a school of herbalism, IN FRENCH!

Four Hearts Services Labor Support, Breastfeeding Support, Dads and Doulas, Postpartum Services, and more. Meet Kathy O'Brien

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Susun has a free hotline every Tuesday evening (from Mid-April to the end of October) from 7:30 to 9:30 EST. Call: 845-246-8081

NOTE: It is helpful if you have read Susun's article and books before calling her, as you will find answers to your preliminary question there and so Susun can help you with more indepth questions you may have.

Legal Disclaimer: This content is not intended to replace conventional western medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat,cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner with a specific formula for you. All material on this website/email is provided for general information purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or consultation. Always check with your personal physician when you have a question pertaining to your health and healthcare.

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