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    WiseWoman Traditions

    In Praise of Snow Ó Susun S Weed Winter is my favorite season. And where I live, winter brings cold and snow. Do you like snow? I do. I like to play in the snow. I admire snow’s beauty. I’m thankful that snow protects the animals and the plants. But what impresses me the most about snow is its country name: “poor person’s fertilizer.” What fun to sled in the snow (screaming), to ski across the snow (silently), to ride a snowboard in the snow (grinning), to ice skate (laughing), to make snow angels (shivering), to bring a snow person to life (cooperating), to have a snowball fight (competing), to…

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    WiseWoman Traditions

    Now Remember Rosemary ÓSusun S. Weed Mad Ophelia tells us: “There’s Rosemary, that’s for remembrance”. In Shakespeare’s day it was common knowledge that rosemary helped one remember. Today, as then, herbalists agree: “For weyknesse of ye brayne, sethe rosemaria in wyne and keep ye heed warme”. The leaves of this tough, evergreen shrub, are valued for both medicinal and culinary uses. And, the powerful antioxidant vitamins found therein do help the brain work better. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an especially aromatic member of the mint family. When grown in dry, poor soils in hot areas, a little protected, but touched by the winds, rosemary rewards us with minerals, vitamins, and…

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    WiseWoman Traditions

    Sage the Savior ÓSusun S. Weed Does the odor of sage evoke warmth, cheer, and holiday feasts for you? Sage has long been used to add savor, magic, and medicine to winter meals. Culinary sage is available at any grocery store, and sage is one of the easiest of all herbs to grow – whether in a pot, on a windowsill, or in the garden. So, grab some sage, inhale deeply, and let me tell you more about this old friend. Sage is Salvia, which means “savior”. As a member of the mint family, it has many of the healing properties of its sisters. Of special note are the high…

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    WiseWoman Traditions

    Mysterious Mushrooms ÓSusun S Weed As summer nights lengthen into autumn, the forests of the Catskill mountains in upstate New York fill with magical, mystical, medicinal mushrooms. “Toadstool” is a quaint name for the many mushrooms that spring forth between rains, while “fungi” is the more technical term. Fungi are plants, but plants without flowers or roots or chlorophyll (which makes plants green). Strange shapes (some quite sexually suggestive), the ability to grow (and glow) in the dark, and psychedelic colors make mushrooms an obvious addition to any witch’s stew. But you will want some other reasons to make mushrooms a steady part of your diet. Is outwitting cancer a…

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    WiseWoman Traditions

    Glorious Goldenrod I love autumn, don’t you? The days shorten and fall colors thrill my senses. Perennial roots get busy storing nourishment that will last them through the winter. And the meadows bloom with purple asters and riotous goldenrod flowers. Goldenrod (the Solidago genus, Asteracea family) is one of my favorite plants, and hopefully, soon it will be one of your favorites too. Before you complain that goldenrod is a pest and you’re allergic to it, let me set the record straight: You aren’t. No one is, no one can be, allergic to goldenrod pollen. Why? It has virtually none. What little pollen it makes is sticky, all the better…

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    Wisewoman Traditions

    Ritual Interlude Crone’s Ceremony of Commitment to Her Community As the menopausal years draw to a close and you find yourself more stable in your new self, feeling more like your “old self” as you become your older self, it is time to manifest the last stage of initiation: rebirth. You’ve spent time in some form of isolation as you journeyed the unpredictable years of menopause. You have given death to your images of yourself as Maiden, as Mother. You have crowned yourself, or been crowned as, Crone. Your metamorphosis is complete. Now comes the time to return to your community. To assume your new roles. You return as Crone.…

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    WiseWoman Traditions

    Quench Your Thirst with Herbs Summer solstice and the longest day are past. As we slide from summer into autumn, the sun seems hotter and fiercer than ever. And the summer’s heat makes us thirsty. What shall we drink? There are so many choices. Since 2003 the number of new drink products on the market has tripled. How are we supposed to choose the best drinks? Does it even matter? I think it does. The liquid portion of our diets is as important as the solid portion. That’s why I drink herbal brews, nourishing herbal infusions to be exact, instead of juice or water. Some herbs are powerhouses of nourishment,…

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    WiseWoman Traditions

    Menopause is Enlightenment The energy aspects of menopause are of special interest to me. As a long-time student of yoga, I was struck by the many similarities between menopausal symptoms and the well-known esoteric goal of “awakening of the kundalini.” Though the ideas presented in this section may seem strange or difficult to comprehend, they contain powerful messages about menopause which lie at the heart of the Wise Woman approach. “Kundalini [is] the root [of] all spiritual experiences …”1 Kundalini is a special kind of energy known in many cultures, including Tibetan, Indian, Sumerian, Chinese, Irish, Aztec, and Greek. Kundalini is said to be hot, fast, powerful, and large. It…

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    WiseWoman Traditions

    An Abundance of Greens I didn’t lose it all with Bernie Madoff, but, like many others, I watched my material wealth shrink this past year. Am I worthless because I’m worth less? Of course not. I’m worthwhile, no matter what I’m worth financially. Having less money doesn’t have to mean having less joy or less abundance. I didn’t lose my job – since I am self-employed, I know I won’t be laid off – but work has slowed down, giving me time to appreciate the many ways abundance pops up in my life. An abundance of things is not fulfilling or satisfying. Having many things can be a burden. It takes…

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    WiseWoman Traditions

    Sweet Taste of Spring March winds blow the sweet scent of maple sap boiling to my questing nose. When the days are warm and sunny and the nights below freezing, the sap rises in the trees. If those trees are sugar maples, then it is worth drilling a hole in the bark, inserting a tap, and collecting their sweet sap. There is so much sugar in sugar maple sap that it can be boiled and turned into maple syrup and maple sugar. There’s about one gallon of maple syrup and ninety-nine gallons of water in one hundred gallons of maple sap.* A hot fire and a slow but steady boil…