Winter Miseries workshop with Susun Weed
By Karen Joy
Well, it's been almost a month now, but I still remember these last two one-day classes of the season with Susun! -- "Hands-On Herbal Medicine" and "Winter Miseries". Though these classes are usually held in October, her Ireland trip pushed them up to later September. I know the season has not ended for Susun or the Wise Woman Center yet, but as I left on Sunday, I felt a sadness, since for me the year had ended there, until next spring. It was such a beautiful year of classes with Susun and the goats, Micki and the geese, now goose, some faces I saw more than once, and all the plants I watched grow from early spring through fall.
As I readied our home, it seemed natural to learn what herbals to get ready for the coming season, and these two classes came at the perfect time for me!
On Sunday, the class was "Winter Miseries", and true to its name the day rained on us and we spent most of it in the studio. The class was also smaller, with women from the day before so we knew each other. I find I love big groups and meeting new people, then I also love these small intimate groups with people I feel familiar.
So as the rain came down and the chill sat outside, I could feel the need to discuss winter miseries.... as we always do before class, we passed the talking stick and shared whatever we would like, including if we wanted, our hopes to get from the day's class. I expressed that in the past I didn't prepare for colds, because somehow that felt like I was creating their occurrence by thought, though this year was different. I also expressed my concern about the mold in my house, and soon I would be indoors more in a closed in house with forced air heating.
Susun enlightened us on the difference between bacteria and virus, and that viruses are very heat sensitive, yet bacteria very strong. She told us about how we spread colds/viruses most by wiping our body fluids (mucous, saliva) on our hands and passing this on. This she learned from a study trying to get people sick to see how sickness is passed. Wet heads and bare feet outdoors didn't do the trick.
One of my favorite learnings is garlic in honey, as I mentioned learning in the previous class. This tasted yummy and was easy to make since the cloves didn't even need to be peeled. The healing of the honey and the garlic are both great things to have around.
Susun suggested a thought about my house. She heard somewhere that when a person is injured by a sword for example, the sword then needs to be healed as well as the person, and in the same manner. So as an experiment she mentioned I could approach my house in much the same way. I am still mulling on how best to do this, but I sure do like the idea. It is even a further extension for me on the Wise Woman approach to health by nourishment. I would approach my house not as some evil making me and family sick so needing punishment, destruction, or abandonment. I would approach it as the beautiful thing it is and has offered and offer it the same healing I would give me. Of course, I may still choose to move out for our health, but my love and attention was still given which I think is the most valuable.
I learned again of mullein infusions for my lungs, and now of the value of pine resins. So for my house I have thought of burning regularly frankincense and myrrh (pine resins for those named trees) and even wondered about burning mullein leaf in the house. I have thought of making an infusion of an herb like cronewort to wash down the walls and floors. I love the thought of "herbal healing for homes"!! Of course I have heard of herbal cleaners to make for your home but the focus is cleansing dirt and the herbs are primarily in the form of essential oils. With my thoughts I am wanting to nourish it with plants growing abundantly at its feet!!
White pine, which grows abundantly around us here, was mentioned as a superb friend for these months. Teas of the needles any time of year, as well as vinegars of them, are rich in vitamin C (I believe the vinegar is? I do know it is tasty!).
Susun talked about mucous. I hope one day she writes about it. I have shared elsewhere on this forum what I am understanding from learning this from her and some have disagreed, but as I learn it more it makes more sense to me. I understand that our sinuses are like cups making mucous that pours out from the top. Also that mucous moves continuously through our body (by gravity I imagine) and this is healthy. It carries out bacteria that enters our body (to our lymphs or out through intestines I am not sure?). It is a vital part of our bodies. When it is not flowing freely, either from getting dried or not enough production, the bacteria aren't carried out and instead are able to proliferate and we get infection. So if you think of the sinuses as a cup without enough mucous... they are not able to overflow and move and we get a sinus infection. What we need at this time is to boost mucous production. Especially being indoors with heat that usually dries us out this is important in winter. So we drink linden blossom infusions (YUM YUM!) and we nourish our lungs with mullein leaf infusions, and I believe (not sure) comfrey leaf infusions are beneficial here as well.
I will end on this controversial subject, and again say my praises for all the one-day classes with Susun I so enjoyed this year!!
Oh yes, one more -- We learned how rhizomes grow and the importance of leaving the new growth behind when collecting, and of digging roots after some frosts and after at least 3 years growth!
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