the rooster

Rooster year is crowing!


We had a rooster when I was five years old who would get up on the tree limb directly outside my window at the pre-crack of dawn and sound the alarm. Why my window?!  Why my window you wee tormentor? Why not my sisters window? Go wake up my sister! Let me sleep bird!

Often I would actually throw open the window and inform bird that when I’m just a little bigger I will make a fine stew out of him despite my dad’s animate dissuasion (due to the fact the rooster was the only other male on the property of many animals and people).

Anyway, those who know roosters will probably laugh at the competition of wills between child and bird, and you’ll understand the intricacies of the overarching symbolic energetic for this fire year. The new totem has arrived.

don’t go back to sleep

Prepare to be awakened when it is still mostly dark and your brain is perhaps a bit foggy. Make preparations to be inspired, to be brought to consciousness. Anticipate the great awakener to blaze in these days before the sun rises. Indeed it looks dark, but the rooster tells us unquestionably it is time to wake up! If this kind of influence is particularly needed for you, you might even find him roosting outside the window over your bed. 

Our work in this fire rooster year is to try to be grateful that there will be no going back to sleepy unconsciousness.  

Happy New Year!🔥🏮💥🎏🎊

root medicine | dandelion root

for food and medicine

It’s easy to renew your connection with the Earth’s abundance, beauty and essential health.  Though you may not remember being a wild forager, there is not a child I have ever met who cannot identify this one.  

dandelion wishes

I’ve often wondered if the dandelion is one of the most overlooked medicine sources in our own back yards. In many places around the country this amazing plant is considered an annoying weed. Yet all parts of dandelion are edible and loaded with vitamins, anti-oxidants, and life-giving nutrients. There are many ways to use this source of free food: herbal jelly, dandelion honey, vinegars, oils, wine, and salad greens, but for this wintertime commentary to come, I’ll focus on the root.  

Before you step out into the wilds of your back yard or elsewhere to pick weeds for lunch, there are a few precautions that you should know:

  • Only harvest weeds that you can positively identify as edible. Keep a field guide on wild plants to reference before you actually consume your harvest.  
  • Avoid picking weeds close to areas of runoff, roadsides, or areas that you do not know if they have been treated with poisons.
  • Do not harvest from areas that may have been contaminated by animal feces.
  • Positively know which part of the plant is edible and discard the potentially toxic part. 

home apothecary


self-sufficiency will reduce suffering 

Something is happening in the medical industry in relation to our population that is similar to the concept of peak oil. There is a viable theory that demand will at some point outpace supply.  

In the very near future there is reason to believe that even if you can afford a bed at your local hospital, clinic, or facility, there won’t necessarily be a trained human being who can care for you.  

This has everything to do with the population boom right after WWII when somewhere between 65 and 78 million babies were suddenly born over a very short span of time in the United States.  

This particular population is referred to as the baby boom generation and if you are a product of those wild times then the concept of home or folk medicine is of particular importance to register as primary health maintenance often becomes less and less easy to just ignore as we age.

But regardless of generation, many things prompt us to seek medical attention and it is important to understand there are still only so many trained medical staff in this country and they are already overwhelmed with the workload they are carrying.  

Population surges combined with limits to trained medical personnel require that we give some thought to home care.

Though most households at one time could manage the elemental health needs of its inhabitants, folk medicine has become a lost art.  

When I speak of folk medicine I am referring to the traditional medicine practices of alleviating suffering in a home or community setting by people who hold no extensive degree of formal medical education, aka: most everyone, for most every household and neighborhood. These basics are as vital as knowing how to feed ourselves and are becoming even more so as the access to healthcare diminishes.

It is becoming essential household knowledge to learn how to use food and an herb or two that you can readily find, as well as few basic techniques that can be performed or administered with things you would already have on hand. 

Folk medicine is a concept that is somehow being lost in the modern outsourcing shuffle. I must politely recommend that your household maintain some basic skills and supplies if not solely for the preservation of your budget but as a tribute to survival and the alleviation of suffering.

To read about ginger root check out my last post. 

wish medicine


In the meantime I leave you with many well wishes for health and vitality!

root medicine | ginger root

young ginger root | sheng jiang

Ginger root is a powerful healing medicine and is usually easy to find at most quality grocery stores.  (Please be mindful whenever purchasing roots of any description that they are from the most clean source you can obtain.) There is a way to use ginger root with almost anything and I encourage you to explore recipes that will expand your understanding of where and how you might get more of this amazing root in your diet. Very simply, you can make tea. Clean the root with a soft brush, slice it thin or grate it, then put it in a cup of boiling water to steam for 3-5 minutes. Drink as it is or add honey, citrus, spices such as cardamom or cinnamon or anise, something savory like dill or spicy like cayenne and it might become your most favored beverage. I love to use ginger root flagrantly. It is anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, aids in digestion, promotes intestinal health, I can go on forever. If you don’t know what to try, try ginger (unless you are allergic or inordinately hot or dislike the flavor) it is worth giving it the first shot to cure whatever ails you. Even if you are hot, young ginger can often bring down a fever (where more aged or dried ginger can bring warmth to cold conditions.)

ginger root mother | gan jiang

The version of ginger root that we use in Chinese medicinal formulations is known as xi xin in the dry powder form and sheng jiang in the fresh young root form, gan jiang is the ginger mother which is tougher, hotter and and more dispersing | asarum, Chinese wild ginger. The very best quality of the thirty different Chinese species is considered to be wild crafted from the Liaoning province in the north. Chinese ginger is very powerful and tends to be used in smaller doses than one might of a root bought in the produce section of the stores in America. If it has been powdered, around 3 grams maximum. Ginger enters the channels of the lung, heart and kidney. It relieves pain and reaches the head, lungs, bones and joints to disperse wind, cold, dampness and phlegm. Typically we will not prescribe this form of ginger if there is profuse sweating in deficient conditions or headache. In the Chinese Material Medica ginger can be found under the category “herbs that release the exterior.” We prescribe it regularly to treat common cold patterns, relieve vomiting, indigestion, nausea, flu, unblock urination and relieve pain. In the Divine Husbandman’s Classic of the Material Medica, sheng jiang, fresh young ginger root, “unblockes the clarity of the spirit.”  

additional note of interest

According to the famous poet Su Shi and the celebrated natural philosopher Shen Gua, in their eleventh century compilation Fine Formulas of Su and Shen, combining green tea leaves with ginger root in equal parts can relieve travelers dysentery and vomiting. I have used this combination successfully when I did not have access to other remedies and find it absolutely invaluable.  

digging

joie de vivre


There is a place on the exact opposite of our globe.  As children we set our expressions to serious and would dig in our sandbox intent upon reaching China.  Somehow hunger or the elements would always end the project or occasionally we learned there was an offensive bottom to the sandbox.  Feeling ripped off, out in the orchard we’d gossip about the conspiracy and hatch plans to find a spot in the garden, ultimately unsuccessful when chased away by some adult authority.  

I haven’t heard yet about a kid who made it to the other side of the world by digging but I do know a lot of us who never lost our curiosity for things that might solve the great mysteries that weren’t readily apparent within our own bubble.

Today the internet can take us to China in a fraction of a second, as well as nearly anywhere else on the globe, and then even out, far out, into the stars where we can watch the cosmos in a constant state of renewal,  birthing baby stars. Times have changed and still the mystery exists: how to live?  The French chose their current dialect not because it is the most easily learned but because it is the most beautiful. They have a phrase called “joie de vivre” that I think of often. Like trying to dig to China, I still haven’t succeeded in finding an American equivalent for this notion. We don’t understand the concept and the most reasonable translation we have is “joy for living,” which does not remotely capture the French sentiment.  

Equally, is this concept of longevity.  In Okinawa (among other places on the globe) there has been an extraordinarily high population of people who live to be one hundred years old and beyond. Remarkably, they don’t just exist in a coma-like state at some institution, these centenarians live- they are active, they are mentally clear, they are physically capable.  They are engaging life.  

My family, many of them, died quite young, not much older than I am now. For several we could see it coming, for a few, it was just tragic accidents.  I still haven’t figured out how to dig fast enough to escape the lightning bolts of fate, but as for the others, I have learned things that could have changed everything. When it involves choice and free will, we truly can alter our experience of existence. We really can choose the joie de vivre.

What is our greatest wealth? Health. What is our most essential currency? Time. There are plenty of things we can buy, and plenty of services we can pay for that will help, but what it really comes down to is perspective, attitude, application and translation. We live in a culture of consumption– once thought of only as a disease term, we now readily identify ourselves as consumers, not citizens. This complicates our notion of health.  

We must dig deeper into the mystery now. We must remember our curiosity. Believe me when I say I know for sure, the clock is ticking and this one needs to hit the top of the priority list every day: Health. What am I going to do today to cast my vote for wellness? If I pretend I’m not voting it doesn’t change the fact that I am.

Great book, Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, he tells of his crash with death then wrote this book of how he made himself return to thriving. I love this kind of motivation. Positive and intentional, he tells us his personal recipe for wellbeing. He calls his recipe a “habit-stack.”  

So each day, on the top of the to-do list should be something that casts your vote for health. Something that peers into the joie de vivre and dances with it, something that addresses your own specific complaints in a positive orientation…then the rest of your priorities.  

People tell me this kind of “habit-stack” would not allow them time to do anything else. I believe that sometimes, depending on how far down that other kind of hole you’ve dug, say five, five and a half feet, that might be true. I say, “so what?” I say this with great, heartfelt compassion, “so what?” If that is what it is going to take to not go to an early grave, or worse, being debilitated beyond any reach of the joie de vivre, then what are you going to choose? I get very quiet and pensive when I know what is happening is a choice but I just can’t figure out how to crack into that mentality that the overculture has effectively brainwashed into our people.  

This is why I write. I want to share what I have learned in researching and practicing the medicine rooted in world knowledge and about the real human people who have saddled the riddles and live, really live well, often to 100 years old or more.  

This year I am completing a home care manual for you to use as a reference book. There was a time when most health contributions were administered first and foremost from our own kitchen and by cultivating a healthful lifestyle. Most (not some) common ailments were effectively treated at home. As the medical “industry” becomes more and more unaffordable for the average household I have recognized the dire need to return health to the people.  I will be educating through classes, coaching and blogposts as I compile the reference guide and welcome your feedback as to how I can better help you learn and implement health promotion and the joie de vivre.

Horseshoe Lake, CO

root medicine 

The Ancient Puebloans called the moon that has just arrived “moon when all is gathered in.” The Puebloans were among the people native to the land where I now find myself. I am wondering, if like the name they called this moon, you have been feeling the need to “gather in” like I have.    
……
I have been on a journey that has now spanned nearly two years. The archetype of “the seeker” has ruled my guiding stars and I’ve navigated in spirals combing not only through the many parts of my own life but through the many landscapes of the Rocky Mountains. I have been looking for something I could not begin to name and as you know it’s not easy to hit a target you cannot see. This has not necessarily been a journey my eyes could interpret, though the beauty I have witnessed could inspire a lifetime. This journey has instead been an intuitive process of listening with my deepest heart. I have been listening for things words could not tell and though I was nearly ready to give up what was beginning to feel like an insane process, I knew when I had found what I was seeking at last. And I also know what it has cost me to find it, which was everything.  

What I mean by this is when you find yourself at that crossroads, what it requires is to make a full decision. If you choose, (though you don’t have to, you can wait out your life there at that in-between) but if you choose, that gateway demands that you leave behind what you thought was true, what you called yours, what was familiar and in most cases from the point of my own observation of others and my own experiences, who you thought you were and all your baggage too. If you think you can take it with you, it might be that you will quickly be stripped of it on the other side of that threshold, or you may find that you must put it down for the sole reason it is heavy. Be willing to take the empty-handed leap into the void. But let me tell you, it is better if you do that without expecting there will be a net to catch you, that could happen, but the notion is superfluous. If you’re going to leap you have to do it not knowing what is there, you have to leap with the only thing you can really take with you, and most don’t know what that is until it’s done. Don’t have time for all of that? I have learned that I don’t have time not to. Maybe something else is true for you. Or like I said, you can stay at the in-between for what we all consider forever if you choose. But if you decide you must know what else there is to this life, then you’re going to have to figure it out as you go and leap without waiting to know what comes next.  

Perhaps you have arrived somewhere after all of that already and find yourself now contemplating what to do. The Ancient Puebloans named this moon “moon when all is gathered in.” This moon tells us what nature’s wisdom knows: gather your life now, take stock, nourish yourself effectively through these long days of harvest work. Start sleeping a little longer as the hours of light dictate and shake off all your leaves. You might need to let go of all of those things you were so excited about in the spring and turn that vitality over to your roots.  

With this seasonal shift we are moving into root time (when vitality retreats below the surface). Gather and store root vegetables to cook with and consider root medicine too, especially if you’re feeling anxious, tired or weak. I’ll be including a list of some of my favorites here soon. You can order dried root or tinctures medicinals from my office or purchase them from a quality herb shop. Quality is very important when you use roots in food or medicine as they have the capacity to sponge up not only vital and obscure nutrients but also all kinds of toxins. By incorporating quality roots into your diet this autumn and into the winter you will be doing a lot to nurture your body, mind and spirit. In meditation give some thought to this concept of what cannot be seen below your surface but from which you draw so much for the force of your life.   

“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” -Ancient Proverb
🌑🌘🌗🌒🌓🌔🌕
Wishing you may find harmony with nature in this season!

root medicine | root food

young ginger root | sheng jiang


I studied a beautiful martial arts while still in graduate school. For many years I practiced with the sensei that was constantly bring us back to the first kata, which is the first form that was considered the foundation of all forms of martial arts. Since having the privilege of this way of learning it has occurred to me at many life transitions that the returning to the basic form is life yielding, a way to bring one’s life back to the mindset of experimentation, renewal, and vitality.  

My sensei would simply say, “again!”

It seems our culture is somewhat counter to the first form of life so it is easy to lose it and fail to go back to it again and again. At least for me it seemed there was much, too much cluttering it to even know what it was. It took considerable time and effort to reunite with this vital, essential root which I now understand is the base of all wellness, the base of all that life is nurtured from, it is what we call essence.  

What can we do to nourish our essence?  
Root medicine. Root food. This is the root season in the north part of the world, a time when winter is settling in and the life forces of plants and trees go deep. Dormancy is occurring. Our teacher inside nature educates about life to anyone willing to observe in a state of curiosity. If we want to live well, this is the time to gather it all in to the core, the root and the unseeable places. 
Though the light is returning, we are in the early days of winter, and more than “doing,” this is a time to turn inward, a time for “being.” It is the space from which visions will grow, a time of dreaming without acting. 

root medicine | root food
Food is medicine, and one of the most direct ways to alter health. It takes energy either way. It takes energy to be sick and it takes energy to procure really quality food specific to each individual person, which is something one has to learn through trial and error. There is no one diet to fit all. We are all unique. Even in each person what might be a great food in one time or season, is not in another. Written over the entry to the Greek temple of Apollo at Delphi in the first millennium BC were the words “gnōthi santon” (know thyself). This is foundational, root wisdom.  

So to begin, learn by trial and error what is the most powerful food for your body, then make sure you feed yourself with it the majority of the time. In this season, consider experimenting with various root vegetables, the closer to home they were grown, the more life force they will hold for you when you consume them. Soups, stews, steamed and fermented root mixtures are a good place to start in the cold months. Consider getting to know your local farmers if you cannot grow your own food. There are not only many things to learn from your locals but often they will plant crops specific to your needs. It is a great way to support others who are dedicated to the local healthy food movement. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) groups often do autumn planting and can offer you a fine selection of squash and roots into the winter. Buy extra and store it if you have a cool dry place in your home. Visit the closest farmers market you can find in the summer and ask about autumn shares. Good food can be much about thoughtful relationships and mutual support. I cannot emphasize enough how vital it is to support our country’s local small farms. If these go away, our foundations will certainly be questionable!

fermented beets | beet kvass

So start there, find quality, whole food year round. A current experiment sitting on my countertop is beet kvass. Normally beets are too sweet for me to have any remarkable quantity at one time. Kvass is made by a fermentation process that eats the sugars to produce a fantastic probiotic rich juice that will in turn fortify gut flora. It is such a rich and beautiful color and the fermented root adds compatible flair to most any dish. In these colder months it seems to take closer to seven to ten days to ferment the beets but in the warmer months it can be done in just a few days and can be kept in the refrigerator up to a month or more. There are many recipes on line for fermented vegetables and beet kvass. I am particularly partial to the recipes and advice in her book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.  

root medicine | ginger root
I want to start my compilation for you with one that is easy to obtain in any quality grocery store: ginger root. There is a way to use ginger root with almost anything and I encourage you to explore recipes that will expand your understanding of where and how you might get more of this amazing root in your diet. Very simply, you can make tea. Clean the root with a soft brush, slice it thin or grate it, then put it in a cup of boiling water to steep for 3-5 minutes. Drink as it is or add honey, citrus, spices such as cardamom or cinnamon or anise, something savory like dill or spicy like cayenne  and it might become your most favored beverage. I love to use ginger root flagrantly. It is anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, aids in digestion, promotes intestinal health, I can go on forever. If you don’t know what to try, try ginger (unless you are allergic or inordinately hot or dislike the flavor) it is worth giving it a shot first to cure whatever ails you. Even if you are hot, young ginger can often bring down a fever (where more aged or dried ginger can bring warmth to cold conditions.)

ginger root mother | gan jiang

The version of ginger root that we use in Chinese medicinal formulations is known as xi xin in the dry powder form and sheng jiang in the fresh young root form, gan jiang is the ginger mother which is tougher, hotter and and more dispersing | asarum, Chinese wild ginger. The very best quality of the thirty different Chinese species is considered to be wild crafted from the Liaoning province in the north. Chinese ginger is very powerful and tends to be used in smaller doses than one might of a root bought in the produce section of the stores in America. If it has been powdered, around 3 grams maximum. Ginger enters the channels of the lung, heart and kidney. It relieves pain and reaches the head, lungs, bones and joints to disperse wind, cold, dampness and phlegm. Typically we will not prescribe this form of ginger if there is profuse sweating in deficient conditions or headache. In the Chinese Material Medica ginger can be found under the category “herbs that release the exterior.” We prescribe it regularly to treat common cold patterns, relieve vomiting, indigestion, nausea, flu, unblock urination and relieve pain. In the Divine Husbandman’s Classic of the Material Medica, sheng jiang, fresh young ginger root, “unblockes the clarity of the spirit.”  

additional note of interest
According to the famous poet Su Shi and the celebrated natural philosopher Shen Gua, in their eleventh century compilation Fine Formulas of Su and Shen, combining green tea leaves with ginger root in equal parts can relieve travelers dysentery and vomiting. I have used this combination successfully when I did not have access to other remedies and find it absolutely invaluable.