~ Herbal Medicine with Susun Weed ~

October/November 2002 ~ Volume 2 Number 10/11

Legal Disclaimer


What's Inside Weed Wanderings this Month...

Calendar of Events


Feature Article 

The Shamanic Herbalist

New Web Pages!

Seven direction movement meditation and more

Herbal Medicine Chest

Stimulating Immunity, an Herbal Approach

Extra Feature

Book Review:

Natural Health and Healing
in the Wise Woman tradition

Breast Cancer? Breast Health!
The Wise Woman Way           


Wise Owl Links


Visit the Weed Wanderings Archive




Wise Woman Center -- Workshops for Women
Join us this year for spirit healing and herbal medicine workshops, intensives, and apprenticeships with Susun Weed and other Wise Woman teachers. The Wise Woman Center in Woodstock NY exists to re-weave the healing cloak of the Ancients. This land, this sacred sanctuary for women is a place for the teachings of the Wise Woman way. The Goddess lives here, as do goats, fairies, green witches, and elders. Located between Woodstock and Saugerties, 5 miles from the NYS Thruway, the Wise Woman Center is easily accessible while private enough for nude swimming. You'll receive a map and directions when you register. Nourishing wild-food vegetarian meals are included with all workshops.

See the Calendar of Events & Workshop schedule (and to register) for this year, click here.


The Shamanic Herbalist

c. 2002 Susun S. Weed


You Are Invited to Be Part of the Shamanic Herbalists/Healers Association (SHA)

SHA is an invisible association. There are no board meetings, no dues, no membership drive, no fund raising. This association is a figment of our imaginations. As such, it is always changing.
The purpose of this association is to define the characteristics of the shamanic (aka, wise woman) herbalist/healer and, by doing so, to claim a space which cannot be defined and limited by law or licensing bodies.

I'm Against Licensing Herbalists
Ever since I went to my first herbalist's gathering two decades ago, there has been one topic guaranteed to elicit raised voices: Shall herbalists be licensed? My position has always been an unequivocal "NO!" I believe that shamanic healer/herbalists especially have everything to lose and nothing to gain from being licensed, accredited, tested, or certified in any manner whatsoever.
Before we go on to the things we can do we keep our "profession" vital and on the beauty way, I would like to share a little of my life with you, a few of the experiences that have shaped the way I think about healing, healers, herbs, and shamans..

What Midwives Can Tell Us About Licensing
My sister and many of my friends are, or were, midwives. Some are certified nurse midwives, some lay midwives, all are well-trained, experienced, skilled, and wise. Barely ten percent of them are working as midwives. Most are disgruntled, discouraged, and depressed about their ability to offer real individualized care to their clients. They sought to license and police themselves, for fear that outside forces would do it if they didn't. And they licensed themselves into oblivion. Rather than insuring the freedom to help women give birth, midwives find themselves now bound with laws, rules, regulations, protocols, fear of losing one's license, and insurance demands.

I Trust the Chaos of the Universe
In order to issue a license, one must quantify, score a test, determine the measure of a human's knowledge and wisdom, define, lay out the rules, say how it should be. But birth doesn't follow rules. Neither does life. Nor healing. Nor do herbs.

Herbs can change their constituents dramatically in response to being grazed, overgrazed, attacked by insects or molds, experiencing drought or flood, suffering from lack of nutrients, poisoned by too much, or a host of other variables. The scientific drive to quantify active ingredients in herbs creates herbal products that are as dangerous as drugs. I am an herbalist because I believe nature's infinite variety, expressed in the herbs, offers more health/wholeness/holiness than the standardized, sanitized remedies of orthodox medicine.

What Can We Do?
How can we continue to practice as shamanic herbalists/healers, as wise women, in the face of pressures to mainstream, certify, and license alternative medicine and its practitioners.

I propose that we define ourselves. That we make ourselves visible in words and thereby declare clearly the impossibility, illegality (according to cosmic law), and absurdity of trying to license shamanic herbalists/healers. Let us present ourselves to ourselves, each other, and our communities--as we have always done, through story, song, dance, and drama, and now through defining words--so that the weave of everyone's reality is touched by a shamanic thread, and our work is kept safe from restriction by the language of law.

Though it is a daunting task, it is necessary to undertake it and possible to do it. What are the characteristics of the shamanic healer? What ought a shamanic healer not do? I envision a discussion that takes place in person, in print, on the Web, by letters, and in the dreamtime.

Here's my list of the characteristics of shamanic herbalists/healers. It isn't meant to be definitive, but to spark discussion. I hope it will be copied, circulated, changed. Comments to: Weed, POBox 64, Woodstock, NY 12498 or email: susunweed@herbshealing.com

Characteristics of shamanic herbalists/healers:

1 * Shamanic healers and herbalists answer solely to the universal "way" as their as their authority and as such cannot be restricted by the language of men's law, for such language constitutes an unfair restriction upon the practices, livelihood and life of the shamanic healer.

2 * Shamanic healers and herbalists work without regard for payment, but absolutely insist on being honored for the work they do. Any healer who withholds treatment until payment is made is guilty of blackmail and is not to be considered a shamanic healer.

3 * Shamanic healers and herbalists use the plant and animal resources of their locality as their healing allies. These resources are harvested in a way that sustains or builds their abundance and diversity. The plants and animals are accorded power, dignity, and sentience. They are addressed directly, prayed to, and usually thanked ritually as well as actually.

4 * Shamanic healers and herbalists frequently use power plants in their work. Power plants include indigenous natural (not synthetic) psychoactives such as psilocybin, tobacco, datura, peyote, marijuana, coco leaves, and the like. Trafficking in such plants is not typical of the shamanic healer, who may, nonetheless, supply apprentices with these plants for the purposes of their studies, and keep a personal supply of up to two year's worth of such power plants. These practices are not to be infringed upon by the language or intent of man's law, as such restrictions unfairly prevent the shamanic healer from accessing certain kinds of information.

5 * Shamanic healers and herbalists may be very limited in their ability to read, write, figure sums, or otherwise function in the modern world. To try to conceive of a written test which could give any information which would be of use in determining the worth of a shamanic herbalist/healer is to enter the realm of the absurd.

6 * Shamanic healers may also be quite limited in their understanding of anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and other modern medical necessities. Nonetheless, each shamanic healer has a "story" about the nature of the world(s) s/he inhabits, and a vision of the health/wholeness toward which the individual patient is moving.

7 * Shamanic healers frequently use drama to potentize healing. Community enactments, melodic messages, rhythmic movements, colorful visions, memorable aromas, and more are interwoven in the work of shamanic healers and herbalists. Expect the unexpected here, the unique, the gift of the moment.

8 * Shamanic healers respect the power of kundalini/life force and therefore do not engage in sexual release with their patients/clients. This is not to say that shamanic healers and herbalists do not flirt! On the contrary, their are often very raunchy, suggestive, and lewd. But they never cross the line from loving, healing touch to frank sexual need/exchange. Anyone who implies or suggests that their healing power can be best accessed through sexual connection is not a shamanic healer.

9 * Shamanic healers support and direct the processes which are common to all of us--birth, initiation, and death--in ways that are unique to the culture and the individual, but which are always characterized, in true shamanic healing, by the intention to honor the person involved and to increase the person's self-confidence and self-acceptance.

10 * Shamanic healers are passionate and compassionate. They move easily into joy, anger, and grief, knowing that all feelings can be healers and liberators. Shamanic healers know few fears. They approach life and healing as a cosmic joke, always ready to laugh first at themselves.

11 * Shamanic healers don't claim to have the answer or know the answer or be the answer; they remind us that the answer lies within ourselves.

What's Science Got to Do With It?
Once upon a time, healing was considered an art. Healing was understood by all to be a complex interaction between the patient, the healer, the community of living people, the communities of the plants and animals (and insects and rocks and fish), the communities of the non-living people (such as ancestors, spirit guides, and archetypes) and that mysterious movement known by so many names: Creator, God/dess, All High.

The healing arts included a keen knowledge of human behavior, a thorough knowledge of plants, a flair for the dramatic arts, especially singing/chanting and costuming/body painting, and a comprehensive knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry. (If you think these areas are not arts, look at the system used by Traditional Chinese Practitioners which includes such "organs" as the triple heater and a dozen different pulses.)

Art does not preclude or oppose science. Science is, after all, only the honest testing of ideas and the ability to observe clearly the confusing relationship of cause and effect. The best of science is deeply indebted to art. Art understands that science is left-brained and art is right-brained, and a whole brain includes both.

Science, however, is not so easy with art. Science believes art is superstition. Science believes art is fuzzy, soft, not-replicable, and therefore untrustworthy. (It is interesting to me that the Liberal Arts University I attended -- UCLA -- required students to take a variety of science courses, but the Science College I turned down -- MIT -- did not require students to study the arts.) Science defines itself as factual and art as fantastical.

Truly great scientists understand the need to honor intuition along with information. But the world is rarely run by the truly great. So bit by bit, the art of healing is denigrated and the science of healing is venerated. The healer spends more and more time interacting with machines and drugs and technology and less and less time with the patient; more and more time studying books and less and less time learning about the strange, symbolic, provocative powers of the psyche. The healer focuses more and more on fixing the sick individual and less and less on the patient's need for wholeness in self, family, and community.

The herbalist becomes a biochemist. The pharmacist no longer needs to know botany. Herbs are presented as drugs in green coats. And the active ingredient is the only one worth mentioning.
Is this what I want? Is this what drew me to herbs? Is this what fascinates me about herbal medicine? My answer to all these questions is absolutely NOT. While acknowledging the usefulness of science, I maintain the right-brain's superior abilities in the art of healing. I defend the rights of the miracle-workers, the shamans, the witch doctors, the old-wif herbalists, the wise women, those who have the skill, the personal power, and the courage to midwife the changes -- large and small, from birth to death and in between -- in the lives of those around them.

Herbal medicine. Magical plants. Psycho-active plants. There is a thread here, and it goes a long way back. At least 40,000 years. The plants say they spoke with us all until recently. Forty thousand years ago we know our ancestors were genetically manipulating, hybridizing, and crossbreeding specific psychedelic plants. And using them in healing. Maria Sabina, one of the twentieth century's most renowned shamanic healers, went into the forest as a small child and ate psilocybin mushrooms because they spoke to her. She healed only with the aid of the "little people" (mushrooms) and she healed not just body but soul. In the Amazon, the students of herbalism, of healing, are apprenticed to psychoactive plants as well as to human teachers.

There is a lot of talk lately about the active ingredients in plants. I've had many a chuckle as product ads claim to have the most of this or that only to be superseded by the announcement that a new, better, more active active ingredient has been found.

For example, when Kyolic Garlic was shown by Consumer Reports to have virtually no allicin (the "active" ingredient), Kyolic countered with an ad campaign claiming superiority because it contained a different, stronger, active ingredient.

For instance, most standardized St. John's/Joan's wort tinctures are standardized for hypericin. But the latest research shows that hyperforin is the real active ingredient!

To illustrate, an article several years ago in JAMA on use of Ginkgo biloba to counter dementia explained that no active ingredient from among the several hundred constituents present had been determined and it was, in fact, likely that the effect resulted from a complex, synergistic interplay of the parts. An article in the New York Times, however, cautioned readers not to use ginkgo until an active ingredient had been established.

It happened to me: An MD on a menopause panel with me told the audience that no herb was safe to use unless its active ingredient was measured and standardized. What can I say? To me the active ingredient of a plant is the very part that cannot be measured: the energy, the life force, the chi, the fairy of the plant, not a "poisonous" constituent. To the healer/artist/herbalist, the active part of the plant is that part that can be used by the right brain to actively, chaotically, naturally, "jump the octave" and work a miracle. This active part is refined away in standardized products, for the real active part is the messy part, the changeable part, the subtle part, the invisible part.

Does science have anything to do with it? Certainly. The process of identifying specific compounds in plants, replicating them in the laboratory and mass producing them as drugs cannot be replicated by or superseded by any healer or herbalist. Preparation of standardized drugs protects the consumer (usually) and protects the plants from over harvesting (although the net effect on the environment may be detrimental).

If we put into the lap of science anything having to so with measuring and certifying, then surely I beg science to be the guardian of the purity of the herbs we trade in our commerce, knowing that art is the guardian of the purity of the herbs we gather ourselves. (A tip from the apprentice book: When Harvesting put only one kind of plant in a basket. This allows one to quickly and easily notice if an interloper has been mistakenly introduced.)

This story doesn't have an ending, for it is ongoing. The dance of health and illness, of art and science (and don't forget commerce) has no pause. So the ending of our tale is not happy, but neither is it sad. Take a look, the real ending of the rainbow is in your own heart.

Susun S Weed POBox 64 Woodstock NY 12498
For permission to reprint this article, contact us at: susunweed@herbshealing.com


Start thinking now about next year; apprentice with Susun Weed.
She offers three options, the live-out Weed Wise Apprenticeship, the live-in Shamanic Herbal Apprenticeship, and the Simple Herbal Apprenticeship.
Click here to learn more.

Live-Out Weed Wise Apprenticeship
A live-out course of study in Wise Woman Ways and herbal medicine, with more than 60 hours of instruction from Susun including: workshops, weed walks, herbal medicine chest, hands-on medicine making, spirit-healing trances, wild salads, moon lodges, consultations, and talking stick circles.

Live-In Shamanic Herbal Apprenticeship
As an apprentice, you'll join my active, eventful life at Laughing Rock farm, learning as you work and play with the plants and animals. Apprenticeship will nourish your wholeness, increase your wisdom as well as your knowledge, and help you reweave the yourself into healing cloak of the Ancients. The shamanic/herbal program is physically, emotionally, and mentally intense; it requires a commitment of 13 weeks (3 months).

Simple Herbal Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships of as little as two weeks are available. You will start on Tuesday at 10am. (Plan to arrive that morning around 9:30am). Herbal apprentices may stay for as long as ten weeks. Simple herbal apprenticeships include weekly yoga classes, moonlodges, field trips, classes with Susun, and classes with visiting teachers. If there are particular teachings you want, ask for a curriculum before you register.

top of page


Natural Health and Healing in the Wise Woman Tradition

c. 2002 Susun S Weed

The Wise Woman tradition is invisible. Without healers, without diseases, without cures, without certificates, without guarantees, it exists. It has no rules, no right answers, no promise of life eternal. The Wise Woman tradition is a spiral of uniqueness, everchanging, like a woman, steeped in and rising out of the blood mysteries, the wisdom of womb-ones, the knowledge of those who hold their blood inside.

The Wise Woman tradition honors the ordinary and avoids the exotic, works simply and steers clear of complication, accepts failure, chaos, and the eternal void with humor instead of fear and dread. The Wise Woman tradition is compassionate and heart- centered. It honors the Earth. It is local and ecological and urges us to use our dooryard weeds instead of the latest miracle herb from far away.

The Wise Woman tradition maintains that health is best defined as flexibility and that deviations from normal (that is, problems) offer us an opportunity to reintegrate parts of ourselves that we have cast out, emerging healed/wholed/holy. Illness is understood as an integral part of life and self-growth, with healer, patient and nature as co-participants in the healing process.

This is in marked contrast to other traditions of healing. In the Scientific tradition the doctor is highly visible and the patient is reduced to a body part or a disease designation. In the Heroic or Holistic tradition, the healer is the one who knows the right way to do things and the patient must follow the rules in order to get well. Most so-called alternative medicine comes from Heroic traditions, which emphasize fasting, purification, colonic cleansing, rigid dietary rules, and the use of rare botanicals in complicated formulae. Metaphysical healing also is applied that way: It views illness as a failure rather than a natural and potentially constructive process.

The Wise Woman Tradition reminds us that wellness and illness are not polarities. They are part of the continuum of life. We are constantly renewing ourselves, cell by cell, second by second, every minute of our lives. Problems, by their very nature, can facilitate deep spiritual and symbolic renewal, leading us naturally into expanded, more complete ways of thinking about and experiencing ourselves.

The Wise Woman Tradition encourages us to work towards good health from the inside out. And to remember that our healing choices influence not only ourselves but the entire planet.

Month One * Waiting * Arctium lappa
In the darkness, there is waiting. Underneath, the roots hold firm. Dare you reach down? To dig deep, deeper, yet deeper, until you grow weary, fingernails broken, anointed by your own sweat? If you do, if you persevere, you will reach her. Your fingertips will caress her cool rough black skin. Honor her power, ask for her help. You will hear her answer, feel her as she gives away to you, as she allows you to take her out of the earth. With your hands and cool water, softly coax the dirt away; sharpen your knife. Cut thin slices, stopping where the root grows dense and begins to yearn upward as leaf. Fill a glass jar: once with slices, then with room temperature apple cider vinegar. Watch it through six weeks of Change, and, just as the light returns at Solstice, eat and drink your potion if you wish to build strength in your liver, your life, your kidneys, your stamina, your intestines, your immune system, and your skin.

Month Two * Sensing * Betula nigra
Who created the belief that we're dirty and must be cleansed to be healthy? Wise women don't clean. They say life is a spiral of nourishment. They say each cell is made in perfect health/ wholeness/holiness when optimum nourishment is available. Instead of "cleansing" -- which can create a damaged self-image -- the wise woman nourishes, increasing self worth and health.
Even when it comes to housework, I don't clean. Instead, I nourish spaciousness. My ally? A brew of sweet birch. I break a handful of twigs (with unopened buds) into a quart jar, fill it with boiling water, and cap it tightly. The next morning, I pour off (and drink) the wintergreen- flavored tea, leaving the twigs in the jar. I pour another quart of boiling water over the (same) twigs. And so on, up to thirty times. After the third or fourth brewing, try some of the liquid as a grease-cutter in the oven. Amazingly, the birch tea gets stronger the more often you use the twigs.

Month Three * Emerging * Sprouts
Have you watched the sprouts in the garden? Try it this year. Watch carefully to see what comes to eat the tender seed leaves as they first emerge, heralding the coming true leaves. Are you surprised that nothing eats the sprouts? Even the insects wait until the true leaves begin to grow before settling in for a feast. The plant is at its most vulnerable when it sprouts, so it protects itself with phytochemicals that are carcinogenic and sometimes outright poisonous. Take a cue from Nature: Avoid sprouts (unless they're cooked, which neutralizes the phytochemicals). Need another reason to avoid this fake food? It isn't grown in the earth. It would make sense to eat sprouts if aboard a spaceship bound for Mars, but my spaceship is planet Earth. So, for optimum nutrition and glowing health, I choose foods that have their roots firmly in Her.

Month Four * Growing * Plantago
Plantain, the plain plant, grows invisibly underfoot in parks, playgrounds, driveways, lawns, even paths through open woods throughout the temperate regions of the Earth. She is lying in wait for you, waiting for you to recognize her virtues and befriend her. All parts are useful: especially seeds, roots, and leaves. The leaves are renowned for their ability to ease stings, itches, sprains, itches, skin irritations (including eczema) and itchy bites. I use the fresh leaves, quickly chewed and applied directly. Children call her the "bandaid plant." Those allergic to bees and wasps swear that a timely application of plantain leaves will save them from adverse reactions to stings. For winter use, I make an ointment by pouring room temperature olive oil over a jarful of coarsely chopped plantain leaves; let it sit for six weeks (no sun!); strain, and melt with beeswax. It is unsurpassed for soothing diaper rash, dry lips, bruises, and -- you guessed it -- itches!

Month Five * Enduring * Symphytum
Is she an evil witch or a tender healer? (of bones, tendons, ligaments, lungs, throat, vagina, guts, and skin? Like the women she has long been associated with, comfrey has a mixed reputation. I use lots of comfrey leaf, brewed as a strong infusion (put one ounce dry herb in a quart jar, add boiling water to top, cap tightly, steep overnight); but I rarely use comfrey root -- if for no other reason than that comfrey will colonize the garden if her roots are disturbed. The healing agents in comfrey are concentrated in the petiole, or leaf stalk, and the flower stalk. Cultivated comfrey has sterile flowers, so I harvest while it's flowering, cutting leaf and flower stalks near the ground and hanging them individually in a dark, well-ventilated place to dry. As I write this in the Catskill winter, a steaming cup, enlivened with a pinch of mint sits by my elbow. Oh comfrey the comforting, you cunning witch, how I adore you!

Month Six * Flowering * Hibiscus
One of my favorite daily practices is to find and eat some wild food, no matter where I am, city or country, home or far away. I like to nourish all that is wild and natural, real and earthy in me. Sometimes I have to resort to dried wild seaweed, but most of the time I can find fresh wild plants. If I'm lucky, I get to eat flowers. In tropical regions, the many-colored hibiscus blossoms offer themselves abundantly. At home, the closely related weedy mallows have much smaller flowers, but are just as delicious, as are the wild (and cultivated) hollyhocks, with their large, tasty, magnificent blooms, and the late-blooming Rose of Sharon, the northern hibiscus. What hussies these flowers are, sticking their tongues out, oozing with nectar, fragrant, and dusted with fairy glitter! What healer they are as well (leaves, too) with their ability to soothe and cool and provide generous amounts of antioxidants ( vitamins C, A, and rare minerals).

Month Seven * Conceiving * Tillia
Known by numerous names, linden (basswood, lime blossom, tillia) is a worldwide favorite for strengthening the immune system and preventing/treating colds and flu. Children are partial to its delicate flowery taste, and it always seems to bring a smile to the lips of adults. At the corner of my house the linden tree leans away from the pond. Her branches sweep down to the roof, aiding our efforts when we want to free her nodding blossoms into our baskets. It was once the custom in France to let out the schools when the linden bloomed, so the agile children could harvest the healing flowers of the tree that buzzes. (The nectar is so sweet that every bee wishes to partake, and they visit in such multitudes that a linden tree in bloom actually buzzes!)

Month Eight * Ripening * Avena
Cultivation of grain is one of the greatest of the women's mysteries; and oats is one of the oldest of the cultivated grains. Hear us Demeter, you who are called Goddess Mother. The oat seed is sown, and soon green shoots carpet the fields. Oh, oat grass, soother of souls and frayed nerves, hear our pleas, comfort us. Growing steadily, the stalk at last yearns skyward, carrying the oat flower into the fertile winds. When pollinated, she will return to gravity, dangling her new crop of oat seeds, oatmeal to us. Oh, Ceres, she of fullness, ripe with milk, it is your body that we feed on, that we nourish ourselves with. We offer you our flowing blood, our sensuous undulating bellies, the ripple in our walk that so mimics yours. You who are beautiful in all ages, help us remember that our beauty also changes with the season.

Month Nine * Scattering * Daucus carota
Most common weeds hide uncommonly-helpful abilities under their rough ways. Beautiful when summer warms her delicate blossoms, the rest of the year Queen Ann's lace is not much to look at. In the autumn, when the seeds are fully matured, but not yet brown, we harvest them to use as a contraceptive. Related to dill, caraway, cumin, fennel, and anise -- all aromatic plants whose seeds are widely used -- and the common carrot, parsnip, parsley, and celery, Queen Anne's lace claims also relationship with one of the most famous plants of antiquity: It even appeared on a coin. Why? It was a highly effective contraceptive! To use: take a full teaspoonful each day, mixed in with food, but not cooked, for as long as you desire to be without child.

Month Ten * Withdrawing * Ulmus fulva
Slippery elm is a graceful tree found near streams and in wet areas throughout eastern North America (from Quebec to Florida and west to the Dakotas and Texas). I have been intrigued with this tree since I first met her. Her inner bark is a superb source of nutrients and a universal antidote for poisons (even bacterial food poisoning). Whenever there are symptoms of gastro- intestinal distress, I think first of slippery elm. Careful harvesters take only branches; the bark of the trunk is not used. After drying, the inner bark is powdered and then mixed with milk or honey before being fed (in tiny amounts, or from a baby's bottle if needed) to the womoon (or animal) in need. Slippery elm quickly stops violent diarrhea and allays even convulsive vomiting. It nourishes and restores life to the intestinal tract.

Month Eleven * Resting * Taraxacum
It seems always to surprise women that I prefer my dandelion greens in the fall. What is it about the cold nights that brings out the sweetness in her greens? Is it that the bitter is gone to the root? That the leaves are storing sweetness toward next springs blooms? Whatever it is, I think the leaves taste their best in the weeks just before and just after the first killing frosts of the autumn. Hidden over the summer by the bigger plants, dandelion steps back into the spotlight (and the sunlight) as the nights chill and lengthen. Cooked or chopped into salads, the greens provide outrageous amounts of carotenes (vitamin A), minerals, and immune-enhancing nutrients. I think of her as a fall tonic. And as I eat her I envision my roots storing up extra for the cold months ahead.

Month Twelve * Dreaming * Papaver
Scarlet poppies bloom behind closed lids. Scarlet petals fall slowly, lazily, easily away, revealing the mystery within: a crowned box of seeds. Scarlet poppies open, draw us in. Rattle, rattle, rattle. . . come closer, she rattles. Her rattle is a drone, is a drum, is the rhythm of peace, is the sound of the sea, of the earth, and of perfect peace. Rattle, rattle rattle, scattering scarlet poppy seeds. Scattering your thoughts to the wind. To the wind that feels so good, so good against your closed eyes, so warm, so comforting, so full of dreams. Scarlet poppies of blood drip in rhythm from your womb, a rhythm so good, so warm, so comforting, so full of peace. A pulsating rhythm of blood, of poppies, of dreams. Scarlet dreams, deep dreaming, deep inside, where scarlet petals fall away, revealing the crowned mystery within. You are the goddess, you are the poppy, you are the dream.

Susun Weed - PO Box 64, Woodstock, NY 12498 (fax) 1-845-246-8081
For permission to reprint this article, contact us at: susunweed@herbshealing.com

Study with Susun via Correspondence Course in the comfort of your own home. She offers three inviting choices: Green Witch, Green Allies, and Spirit & Practice of the Wise Woman Tradition.

Green Witch focuses on personal and spiritual development. You'll create rituals, prepare an herbal first-aid kit, encounter your Goddess archetype, discover the magic of your menstrual/menopausal changes, and develop wise woman ways of living and healing.

Green Allies explores herbal medicine through direct experiences with plants, plant spirits (fairies, devas), and plant medicines. For those who want to deepen, rather than broaden, their knowledge of plants: a year's worth of investigation and experimentation with one plant ally.

Spirit & Practice of the Wise Woman Tradition focuses on understanding, internalizing, and using the Three Traditions of Healing (Wise Woman, Heroic, and Scientific) and the Six Steps of Healing. Health-care practitioners find this course exceptionally helpful, but anyone who cares for the health of others (even family members) will benefit.

Click here to learn more about how to register.


~ Wise Woman Web: New Pages ~

We have added three new book excerpts for your enjoyment.



The Seven Directions Movement Meditation honors all life.
As we move around the circle we remember, "Everything within the circle is sacred, all things outside of the circle is sacred, all is sacred."
- Moses Shongo, Seneca Medicine Man

Excerpt from Seven Directions Movement Meditation

Order at www.wisewomanbookshop



The Lost Language of Plants

The Ecological Importance of Plant Medicines to Life on Earth
by Stephen Harrod Buhner

Chapter Two: The Two Wounds
Chapter Five: The Environmental Impacts of Technological Medicine
Chapter Seven: “Plants Are All Chemists”

These Excerpts printed courtesy of Chelsea Green Publishing Co.


Songs of Bleeding by Spider

Spider weaves the tales of Women's Mysteries in the remembrance of Moon Lodge celebrations based on Taino teachings. Through this book, she shares the dreams of the Grandmothers with all people ready to honor the Earth and Her cycles.

EXCERPT: Song Of Each New Sun

Spider is a teacher of Earth connection following the Taino tradition of the Caney Indian Spiritual Circle and the Wisdom Wheel teachings of the Wolf Clan Teaching Lodge. Spider is an herbalist and teacher committed to living in harmony with MotherEarth and using her gifts wisely.

NEW LINKS to check out...



Wildcrafting with Ila Hatter, a walking field guide for over 25 years to the native plants of Southern Appalachia and to the native peoples who knew these plants so well. Online Store includes instructional videos on edible/medicinal plants, wild foods cookbook with over 300 recipes, and more. Photo Gallery, Workshop Schedule, Links to other great sites and Databases. Join Interpretive Naturalist Ila (eye-la) Hatter on an excursion through the bounty of nature in one of the great International Biosphere Reserves in the world, the Great Smoky Mountains. Because of the unique growing conditions in the varying altitudes of North Carolina and Tennessee, the Smokies contain the diversity of plant life that is found in the whole of the Appalachian chain as it stretches from Georgia to Maine.



Sacred Dream Productions features the music of Lisa Thiel, and the newly released “Kuan Yin Mediation: Mother of Compassion”. Her other titles include Mother of Compassion, Songs of the Spirit, Invocation of the Graces, Journey to the Goddess, Lady of the Lake, Rising of the Phoenix, Songs of Transformation. Lisa Thiel's music first gained its notoriety in the typical grassroots folk tradition: through people singing and playing her songs as they traveled across the country and around the world. Her music reached such distant places as China, Australia, the U.K., and Europe in this manner, and her first release, "Songs of the Spirit" became an underground classic as a result. Her 1997 work, "Invocation of the Graces," reflects her return to her own Celtic roots and the magic of its ancient folk musical traditions.


Maine Seaweed Co. is a small, family-owned business on the downeast Maine coast which hand harvests and dries Atlantic seaweeds. They offer a variety of seaweed species and lots of helpful information about seaweed. Through seaweeds, the earth's sea-blood strengthens our own sea-blood that we carry within us. Seaweeds are an excellent source of trace minerals in our diet. As our air and water become more acidified through pollution, minerals are leached and depleted from our land fields, and they wash down to the sea, where the wild seaweeds incorporate them. When we eat seaweeds, we take these minerals back into our bodies, and these minerals help us maintain an alkaline condition in our bloodstream, which is a healthy condition, resistant to fatigue and stress.



Illuminati Del Sol - Visit this site for Goddess myths, questions, personal stories, meditations and rituals to help women claim their spirituality with the Goddess and access the wealth that is hers to hold and cherish. Site also features pagan parenting tips, poetry, recipes for kitchen witches and more illumination for the soul.


Exploring Womanhood tackles some of the many issues females face at all ages. You will discover journals, book reviews, crafts, interviews and articles all written with the peace and beauty of womanhood in mind. The midlife journal takes you through the adventures of one woman learning about herself during perimenopause years. Stop by, read, lend suggestions, and enjoy!

Albuquerque Homebirth Find information about having a safe homebirth, waterbirth, hypnobirth. You may be wondering the following about waterbirthing: How can water reduce the pain? Is it safe? Benefits? This site answers these questions. A waterbirth is a natural, gentle, pain-reducing, fulfilling, and empowering birthing experience. Mother and infant start out their new life together in a relaxing and deeply familiar environment: warm water. Albuquerque Homebirth has tub kits for waterbirth, tub birthing stories, herbal teas and remedies.Even if you are not in the greater Albuquerque area there is something for you including information on pregnancy, aquanatal classes, hypnobirthing, waterbirthing, midwifery, waterbirth tubs, prenatal teas and herbal remedies and prenatal care.



Tulsa Gypsy Fire - Janis Moody, founder of the wholistic center and gypsy fire studio, located in Tulsa, OK. Since 1994. she is a graduate of Susun s. Weed's herbal and wise woman courses. Janis has been in the healing arts field since 1971 - the center's focus is on healing. Classes are offered in lightwork, conscious creation, herbs, healing, bellydance (american tribal style) and sacred dance. Individual appointments are available for aromatherapy massage, wise woman consultations, intuitive readings and hands on healing. Janis was guided to begin teaching bellydance in 1994 as a way to heal and empower women. All women are seen as beautiful, no matter their size, shape or age. Bellydance awakens the kundalini, ancient cellular memories, inspires creativity, and is a lot of fun!





Care2.com is “The #1 Environment Network for Healthy Living and a Healthy Planet”. With secure online shopping facilities, eco pages packed with eco news, a section with tips on healthy living and more.



She calls it Lady Barbara's Garden, but a MEADOW is more like it. A career professional gardener who came to honor the weeds, an Eight-Time Lyme survivor who recovered so splendidly she now teaches BellyDancing, and a WiseWoman Herbalist who lives her life out loud, here is where Lady Barbara shares it all. Like a meadow, it's full of surprises, a certain disorganized brilliance, and hopefully a balance that reflects the utterly mad sense of humor of the Universe. LadyB is proud to be a Cinquegenarian Goddess riding the Menopausal Hormonacoaster for ALL it’s worth!!



Snow Mountain Botanicals prepares high quality, energetically vital herbal extracts, using fresh organically grown or wildcrafted plants and organic grain alcohol. We offer a line of compounds formulated by experienced herbalists and an extensive selection of Simples.



Full Moon Party - in French or English, this site offers visitors information about the phases of the moon, a free database of articles, worldwide full moon celebrations, full moon parties, festivals and events, and a shop for clothes, jewelry, deco and textiles!



Dragon Fly Ranch, healing arts retreat. Kona, Hawaii eco-spa treehouse hosts romantic honeymoons, B & B guests and workshops with Healthy Pleasures: frolicking dolphins, diving, labyrinth, birding, yoga studio, lomilomi massage, organic garden, sacred dance, and flower essences.



Lucas Lifeforms- A Healthier way of Living. The Living Well Health newsletter is a monthly issue sent by request to those interested in improving their environment and health through alternative methods. How little changes in your diet and improving your environment can make the difference. By learning insight into selecting mineral supplements, nutrition, herbs, fitness, and meditation. To improve your "Life-Style" for living in today's world. You can browse the past issues in the online archive directory of Health Maintenance little known ways to optimum health. Ensuring you a healthy and vital tomorrow.



Anna Bellina Natural anti-aging formulas, organic rejuvenating skin nutrients, Derma-Glo for sensitive skin rashes, synthetic free, no water added to dilute products. Tried and true products with a history of success on human skin in need of rejuvenation.





Herbal Creations Ltd - “Combining age-old herbal remedies for use in today’s modern lifestyle”. Established in May 2000 to produce quality medicinal herbal products, using where possible New Zealand organically grown herbs. We currently produce herbal tinctures by cold percolation and maceration. We supply these, along with NZ native, Ayurvedic & Chinese tinctures, dried herbs, essential oils, and herb/tincture prescriptions to practitioners, dispensaries, health shops & pharmacies around New Zealand and internationally. We have a range of herbal ointments, oils and formulations which we supply direct to the public via mail-order, and are also developing a range of animal remedies at present.



Spider is a ceremony leader following the Taino tradition of the Caney Indian Spiritual Circle. Through her workshops and books, Spider shares the women’s lodge ceremonies and passage rites, Medicine Wheel teachings, children’s stories about All Our Relations and healing using an energy Vortex. You will find Spider’s books, herbal preparations, articles and more on the SpiderHerbs website.



PrairieWise Herbal School offers a variety of learning experiences for the new and seasoned herbalist student in the Kansas City area and around St. Joseph, Missouri. The program includes workshops, lectures, short courses and a one and two year apprenticeship, plus a three-year clinical herbalist course of study. Experience is the best teacher and the school offers many hands-on practices. Their Vision Statement: “The best medicine you will ever take is the medicine you make”; their Mission Statement: “We assist one another in making medicine through education and experience”. Kahla Wheeler, founder and director, is an engaging storyteller bringing herbal wisdom to life.



Natural Wisdom website is your comprehensive resource on Natural Infant Hygiene. Discover the natural, gentle way of helping your infant stay clean, dry, and happy while reducing diaper use. Enjoy the intimacy of tuning in and responding to your baby’s vital elimination needs from birth. Millions of parents and babies worldwide share this special bond and communication. You can too!



Herbs at Home Magazine - Publisher, Jen Jones has been bringing news of herbal happenings from around the world to North Americans since 1998. The magazine went fully digital in March of this year and now more readers can enjoy more herbs, more often. HERBSatHOME is not just another pretty website about herbs! It is instead a trusted source for professionally edited information, real writers and real herb personalities!

Mountain Rose Herbs promises to provide exceptional quality bulk organic herbs, spices, botanicals, and an extensive line of superior herbal products. We put an emphasis on organics first and when certified organic is not available we offer wild gathered material that is harvested in a sound and sustainable manner. We place a priority on our general health and well-being, and currently we are working to have all commercially cultivated materials removed from our product line entirely.
It is our health we are talking about, so why skimp?

top of page


Herbal Medicine Chest

Stimulating Immunity, an Herbal Approach

by Jessica Godino

Most of us rarely think about our immune systems until we get sick. We come down with the latest round of the flu and begin rummaging through our medicine shelf for something, anything, to help us feel better. Luckily there are many herbs that work wonders in acute conditions, and with their help we can soon be back on our feet. Here's a few of my tried and true favorites.

Everyone knows that Echinacea is an immune stimulant. It increases the production of white blood cells and other disease scavenging immune cells. Echinacea can be helpful with all kinds of infections, both viral and bacterial. It is best to begin taking Echinacea at the very first sign of an infection and to continue for at least a week until it is completely cleared up. This herb can also be used preventively; if all of your co-workers are getting sick, for instance, or if you are just feeling extra susceptible.

There is a widespread myth that Echinacea should only be taken for 7-10 days at a time because the body builds up a resistance to it. In fact there is no evidence for this. This information is based on an erroneous interpretation of the original study. Nineteenth century doctors actually found that Echinacea’s effects improved with time! The advice I give people is to continue taking Echinacea until you are completely well unless compelled by your inner guidance to stop sooner. I also find that most people don't take a high enough dosage of Echinacea for it to be fully effective. The dosage for acute illness is half your body weight in drops, every two hours. For most adults that comes to about 75 drops every two hours. As the condition improves, slowly begin to cut back on both the dosage and the frequency.

Usnea is another immune-stimulating herb, one which is often overlooked despite the potent medicine it yields. Usnea is a stringy greenish-gray lichen that commonly grows on trees in our area. It is almost as powerful as Echinacea in its anti-microbial action, with a special affinity for the urinary and respiratory systems. It is often used specifically for infections caused by staph or strep organisms. I find it combines beautifully with Echinacea and often use them side by side. The dosage is the same as for Echinacea.

St. Johnswort, or Hypericum, is well known for its anti-depressant effects. Few people realize that this herb is potently anti-viral as well. It is also a muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory; I find it invaluable for the aches and pains that so often accompany the flu. The dosage is 25-75 drops of the tincture, as often as needed.

Using these herbs when you are ill will help to speed recovery as well as ease discomfort. Even better, they build up your immune system for the long term, helping you create resistance to the next round of germs that come through town. Next time a cold or flu bug decides your body looks like a good place to set up shop, be prepared with a supply of your favorite immune-stimulating herbs. But remember, it's easy to succumb to the temptation to use herbs like drugs, to cover symptoms so you can go on with a hectic schedule. So don't forget to eat nourishing food, get plenty of rest, and allow your body the time and space it needs to heal itself.

Jessica Godino has been connecting people with plants for over a decade. After training with wise woman herbalist Susun Weed she founded Red Moon Herbs, an herbal medicine company. Jessica teaches classes on herbal medicine and offers individual wellness consultations in person and by phone. She especially loves working with women of all ages, from menarche to menopause and beyond. She is a doula, a birth assistant and a certified Fertility Awareness instructor. She can be reached at : http://www.fourflameshealing.com/

Click here for information on Susun Weed's herbal medicine classes in Woodstock, NY.


If you enjoyed learning about these herbs, you may enjoy the Wise Woman Herbal Series:

Visit www.wisewomanbookshop.com to read excerpts and reviews or to order this collection.

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.

top of page

Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year
Author: Susun S. Weed. Simple, safe remedies for pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and newborns. Includes herbs for fertility and birth control. Foreword by Jeannine Parvati Baker. 196 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $14.95
Order at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com

Healing Wise
Author: Susun S. Weed. Superb herbal in the feminine-intuitive mode. Complete instructions for using common plants for food, beauty, medicine, and longevity. Introduction by Jean Houston. 312 pages, index, illustrations. Retails for $17.95
at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com

NEW Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way

Author: Susun S. Weed. The best book on menopause is now better. Completely revised with 100 new pages. All the remedies women know and trust plus hundreds of new ones. New sections on thyroid health, fibromyalgia, hairy problems, male menopause, and herbs for women taking hormones. Recommended by Susan Love MD and Christiane Northrup MD. Introduction by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. 304 pages, index, illustrations. Retails for $16.95
at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com
For excerpts visit: www.menopause-metamorphosis.com

Breast Cancer? Breast Health!

Author: Susun S. Weed. Foods, exercises, and attitudes to keep your breasts healthy. Supportive complimentary medicines to ease side-effects of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or tamoxifen. Foreword by Christiane Northrup, M.D. 380 pages, index, illustrations. Retails for $21.95
at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com

Down There: Sexual and Reproductive Health the Wise Woman Way
Publication date: June 21, 2011
Author: Susun S. Weed Simple, successful, strategies cover the entire range of options -- from mainstream to radical -- to help you choose the best, and the safest, ways to optimize sexual and reproductive health. Foreword: Aviva Romm, MD, midwife, 484 pages, Index, illustrations. Retails for $29.95
Order at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com

Susun Weed's Video & CD's:

Weeds to the Wise DVD Video
Visit Susun's farm for a weed walk. Hear her talk on the Three Traditions of Healing. Make infusion with her. Fun! (1 hour VHS video) Please note: this VHS video tape is in NTSC format which may not be compatible with video players outside of the USA and Canada. Retails for $29.95

Order at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com



Susun Weed's "It's Time"
Wise Woman Center
25th Anniversary Celebration CD


Visit www.goddesschants.com to hear all the songs, read lyrics &
learn about the artists.

18 Wise Woman Songs & Chants from the heart
Price: $15.00

Order this CD in our Bookshop


For Wholesale orders see our terms letter or contact us at:

Ash Tree Publishing PO Box 64 Woodstock, NY 12498 ~ Phone/Fax: 1-845-246-8081
Website: www.wisewomanbookshop.com ~ E-mail: susunweed@herbshealing.com

Susun Weed, green witch and wise woman, is an extraordinary teacher with a joyous spirit, a powerful presence, and an encyclopedic knowledge of herbs and health. She is the voice of the Wise Woman Way, where common weeds, simple ceremony, and compassionate listening support and nourish health/wholeness/holiness. She has opened hearts to the magic and medicine of the green nations for three decades. Ms. Weed's four herbal medicine books focus on women's health topics including: menopause, childbearing, and breast health. Visit her site www.susunweed.com for information on her workshops, apprenticeships, correspondence courses and more! Browse the publishing site online at www.wisewomanbookshop.com to learn more about her alternative health books. Venture into the NEW Menopause site www.menopause-metamorphosis.com to learn all about the Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way.

Return to Weed Wanderings Menu at
top of page

For permission to reprint any content on this site, contact us at: susunweed@herbshealing.com

© Susun Weed -Wise Woman Center
~ Disclaimer & Privacy Policy ~



Weed Wanderings is sponsored by:

Other Wise Woman websites include:

Menopause-Metamorphosis is easy to navigate, visually appealing, and provides sound advice to help women get through the menopausal years. I found this site very empowering as it offers hard-to-find herbal information and helpful hints for the menopausal woman who is looking for alternatives to western medicinal treatments. This site has been designed to promote Susun Weed's book, NEW Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way, however she offers the visitor lots of content in the form of useful articles ( I found Herbs for Women Using Hormones especially useful). I did not feel as thoughI was in a commercial site at all. Ms. Weed covers a wide variety of hard-to-discuss topics, such as: digestive distress, weight gain, hairy problems, and vaginal dryness. Susun Weed also offers articles on important subjects including; Building Better Bones, and how to deal with Emotional Uproar. I will recommend this site to friends and loved ones who are menopausal or who know some one who is entering the Change. Of final mention, this site not only offers information for women in menopause but it also provides help for women in pre- and post-menopause as well - see Three Stages of Menopause. This site is not depressing - quite to the contrary, www.menopause-metamorphosis.com offers great alternative health options, spiritual advice, an art gallery, and there is even a humor section. It is definetly worth at least one visit!


Hi Wise Women, Please send me everything. You've changed my life and continue to daily.Thanks for giving me back "ME"! Joyfully, Jane

I have studied herbalism since I was 4 years old. My great-grandmother was a medicine woman, and although I never knew her, I learned a great deal from her daughter, my grandmother. Now, as I myself approach menopause, I find your website. And the spiral turns! Please add me to your mailing list--and thank you for doing what you do! ~ Donna

I've been having a wonderful time exploring all the information on your website, and would like to receive your newsletter. I have had wonderful success with herbs and am amazed at how my body is in-tune to which one I am in need of, and then how well I respond to the herb I'm drawn to. The information on your website has been so helpful, I really appreciate you sharing all this knowledge. Sincerely, Michelle