classes, Imbolc, Teaching lectures, Uncategorized

Classes for January and February

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Finally, I’m posting classes with some lead time, so people can plan. Here are the upcoming classes for January and February: note* I’ve changed the start date for the Herbalism 101 classes.

Jan. 1 – Community class – join me in creating a vision board or photo collage. Free hang out day.

Jan. 12 – Formulating Healing Teas – Victrola Cafe 6:30 – 8:30, $35 includes all materials. A foundation in theory for formulating  herbal teas will be provided along with several combination choices, caffeinated and not; you’ll take home a canister of your own mix. ( and if you feel really inspired, the Rainbow Remedies is next door as well as a tea store down a block)

Jan. 15 – Winter Field Trip! Outside, rain or shine, get to know Nature and our outdoors in all the seasons. We can find  herbs in winter; pine and fir needles and resins, and roots.$20. Magnussen Park. 11-2

Jan. 18 – Salves and Lotions – Learn to make your own salves and lotions. Hands on class; you’ll take home a tin of each. $35 includes all materials. We’ll make a poplar bud salve, great for pain and healing. Victrola Cafe 6:30-8:30.

Jan. 26 – Making Jewelry from Nature -Get creative with jewelry made from bits of Nature! Each participant will receive a pair of silver stirling earring hooks and clasp for a necklace, there will also be wire to try out wire wrapping. The materials costs of this class are higher, so this class is $50 and must be reserved in advance. Victrola Cafe 6:30 – 8:30

Feb. 2 – Imbolc / Candlemas – the Magic of Herbal Candles. Candle making adding Nature, celebrating the quickening of Spring and the return of the light with herbs and crystals. Location tba, 6:30-8:30.

Feb 25 – Field Trip – Sea weed – learn about the benefits and types of seaweed out at the beach. Instructional only (you need a license to collect seaweed) $20 Golden Gardens Park

 

 

 

 

 

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Foraging, Natural Dyes, Plants, Uncategorized

Dyeing with Scotch Broom

A couple of months ago, when the Scotch Broom was blooming, I gathered some to experiment with. It’s considered a noxious invasive here in the NW, so there is plenty around and no one minds if you harvest it. It’s on the quarantine plant list, but I think someone forgot to tell the plants! The seeds can remain dormant and viable for over 30 years making it hard to control.¹ I’m doing my part by harvesting before seed set.

Cytisus scoparius is the local variety. Historically, it has a long history of use as a dye, for fiber; textiles and paper, of course brooms, and medicinally for the liver and as a cardiac tonic; although I’ve read that the active constituents can vary widely from plant to plant and most herbalists now use more reliable plants. I haven’t met anyone who uses it medicinally, but you can read more about the history of uses here. Care must be taken to absolutely ID it as there are similar looking plants such as Spanish Broom that are toxic.

I decided to stay with craft uses. Through a bit of research, I found that the “broom” used for dyes was actually Genista tinctoria² But I decided to give it a try anyway. For this dye experiment I pre-mordanted my fabric with alum. I gathered a bunch of flowers and simmered them for a short time, then strained them off and soaked my cloth in the yellow liquid for about two months.

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I was pretty happy with the results. The only caveat seems to be light fastness. I set the pieces of fabric on the back patio to dry and of course forgot about them till the next afternoon…. after a rainstorm during the night and bright sun the next day, much of the color in the ones that didn’t blow up against the house in the shade had faded quickly. But for decorative projects that would stay indoors, it makes quite a nice yellow.

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In theory I also wanted to make fiber from the stalks, but the video I saw on the process was actually for genestra, although I imagine the process is similar; it’s not in English, but pretty easy to follow along visually. It seems to require dancing and singing and no small amount of polluting of streams, but imagine how wonderful items that took this much attention to produce would feel. It did look very labor intensive…. so they’re sitting in a pile out back and likely not too useful for anything at this point….

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although I have read that the stems have lots of tannins, so perhaps I will make a tea with them to try tanning some salmon skin again. (My first attempt was a fail, but that’s another story)

Has anyone else used Scotch Broom? Please comment below!

 

¹http://www.nwcb.wa.gov/detail.asp?weed=44

²http://blog.ellistextiles.com/2015/05/14/a-lesson-about-dye-plants-broom/

 

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Brigid, Foraging, Imbolc, Plants, Uncategorized

Imbolc or the Beginnings of Spring

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Brigid’s cross. Yes, I made this.

Imbolc marks the first stirrings of Spring in the Northern hemisphere, either February 1st or 2nd, depending on your source for dates. Some years, Winter hangs on and lingers; but this year, at least on the West coast, Spring has Sprung!

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Chives peeking up in my garden.

Imbolc is associated with the Goddess Brigid in Ireland, and the violet is one  of Her flowers.

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Sure enough they are just getting ready to bloom.

Brigid is considered the Goddess of Water and Fire. I’ve been exploring the Red Alder, Alnus Rubra, and gathering bark and catkins as the tree is flowering at this time in late winter/ early spring. It’s not traditionally associated with Brigid or Imbolc, but I still consider it fitting as a tree of Water and Fire. Alder has an affinity for wet climates and watery places. It’s a gateway plant, meaning it’s one of the first trees to come back where humans or fires have disrupted the land. Alder fixes nitrogen into the soil and remediates the ph. As a relatively short lived tree, it grooms the soil for longer lasting trees to take over and thrive again.¹ The fire part comes in the bark. When the bark is scratched or peeled it turns red. Considering the Doctrine of Signatures, we would guess that Alder is useful to the blood, which in fact it is. It aids the lymphatic system and is anti-microbial. For an amazing in-depth monograph on Alder, read this by Kiva Rose.² Dried alder bark helps with digestive issues. The tincture turns a lovely red just like the dried bark.

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Alder bark tincture as it looked just before I got lost in the viewfinder of the camera and kicked it over. Hmph.

What signs of Spring can you find in your own yard or neighborhood? What are your experiences with alder?

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Kitty checking out the Spring garden. My artichokes came back in Nov. and so did most of the ones around town and they’ve made it through the little bit of freezing weather we had the end of Dec.

¹http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1995-55-4-a-nitrogen-fixation-the-story-of-the-frankia-symbiosis.pdf

²http://bearmedicineherbals.com/rivermedicine.html

All information here is for educational purposes and not intended treat any medical conditions. If you have any questions please consult your doctor.

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