This Years Learnings, Mulching & Feeding Me Like Fallen Leaves…

So the temperature outside is crispy cold and the sky is bright blue, the leaves are in the midst of changing from green through yellow, red and russet. I love this time of year. As the leaves begin to drop and create their crispy brown litter all around I too find myself shedding much of what the year so far has been to me. Just as the fallen leaves mulch down around the base of the trees providing nutrition as a slow release to be reabsorbed through the winter roots I will use the lessons I have learned this year, the joys and the sorrows, to help inform my path and feed me with insights for what is to come.

fallen autumn leaves

fallen autumn leaves

I have only 2 evening sessions of teaching remaining before this year ends, my energy is turning inwards, so that the darker months can be spent brewing, gestating new ideas to birth when the days begin to lengthen once more and the fresh new growth begins once again. Already I have quite a lot in place for next year with regards to teaching but I do feel a change coming and a need to deepen, to take it further.


My first offering of 2017 begins at the time of Imbolc midway between the lunar and calendar dates for this seasonal acknowledgement of the cycle of life; the return of fresh growing leaves from the dark underground depths. Amazingly this series of evenings is already full ~ mass consciousness of plant consciousness is growing ~ what a wonderful thing! How wonderful to witness this growing hunger for listening to the call of the wild, to our green relations.

In response I have added a new set of dates for the evening series “Sacred Plant Teachers ~ the art of the invisible” that will run through April. In May I will be running an “Introduction to Communicating with Plant Spirits” day, and later in the year a week long “Sacred Plant Medicine Immersion”. If you are interested in any of the workshops I have mentioned please go to my workshops page for more details.

Also beginning in April will be “Sacred Ecology: A Rewilding Apprenticeship“, this will be the second year that I am running the apprenticeship. This years apprenticeship was an amazing journey into rewilding and I was truly delighted that even during the first weekend my apprentices were suggesting that they would like a year two, to continue deepening and exploring their own wildness and wild connections. So I am also working on “Weaving Wildness” which will be the follow up for previous apprentices. To read feedback from some of this years apprentices click here…



As I sit in my office it is cold, and I am thinking a lovely hawthorn decoction would warm up my chilly little fingers. The hedgerows are still full with many gifts, so if you have not yet stored up for winter it would be good to do so soon. I am going to drain off my last tinctures of the year and pot up some little cuttings salvaged from a dying house plant -not really the right season for this, but hoping the newly emerged roots will take the slow winter months to grow strong – time will tell. While I wait to find out I think I’ll go and put a pan on and simmer up some of those beautiful deep red haws…


Tumeric & Black Pepper Oil

I was first introduced to the wonders of turmeric by a friend of mine several years ago. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and had begun to use it on a daily basis finding it relieved her condition. She recommended that I try making golden milk where you first make a paste with black pepper that you can store in the fridge and just use a little a day heating it up with your favourite nut milk and drinking it as the name suggests, as a golden milk. The recipe had too many stages for a lazy bones like me, so I never did try it. It did however spark my interest in turmeric (curcuma longa).

fresh turmeric root

fresh turmeric root

Tumeric contains phytochemicals called curcuminoids. Tumeric has been used since ancients times in India as a tonic for cardiovascular and liver health and for its anti-inflammatory properties which can aid in joint comfort and mobility. Curcumin and the other curcuminoids that turmeric contains have been found to be powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antifungal and anti-bacterial agents.

Piperine is the key chemical constituent in black pepper (Piper nigrum) and when combined with turmeric enhances the bioavailability of the curcumin. This simply means that using black pepper alongside turmeric allows more of the curcumin to be absorbed before it is metabolized by the body. In addition piperine has analgesic properties when applied topically, so it can be used to help reduce pain.

black pepper

black pepper

Curcumin is fat-soluble which means it needs to be dissolved in oil to make it to your intestines where it is then absorbed into the blood stream. This of course is why my friend was dissolving her paste in fatty milk, so that her body could effectively absorb the turmeric and black pepper as medicine.

With this information in hand I began more regularly adding the sacred trio of turmeric, black pepper and oil, to much of my food. Olive oil has its own properties including being antioxidant and so alongside the fact that I find it delicious it became the obvious choice of oil for the necessary combination. I even began occasionally adding it to my morning smoothies, as I am well aware of my less than perfect health, and the fact that inflammation is at the root of many conditions that seem to set in for many modern people as we age. This combination has even been recommended as a remedy for people managing certain cancers, or to help protect oneself from developing cancer in the first place, pretty powerful stuff.

On a trip to Asia last year I was visiting a market in Myanmar and spotted a huge sack of dried turmeric, it was the first time I had come across the root, always having only found it in powdered form in the UK. The man selling it saw my excitement and so when I tried to buy some he instead insisted I take a bag and refused payment. It seemed a little silly as he could have charged me 10x the regular rate and I would still have been happy not realising how much it should have cost. But his kind old eyes refused my offerings of money, so on my return to the UK I gave several of my herb sistas a handful each to use. The dried root grated easily, with an incredible smell and rich orange colour. It felt so much more vibrant and alive than the yellow powder I had been using.

dried herbs at market in Myanmar

dried herbs at market in Myanmar

Earlier this year not only my local health store, but also my local supermarket both started to sell the fresh root, happy days! The taste is amazing and so I continued its use, now with even greater enjoyment.

A few weeks ago I had a dream. In the dream I was told to make an infused oil of fresh ground black pepper, fresh turmeric root and olive oil. So upon waking that is what I did. I first crushed the peppercorns, then sliced the root and finally covered the combination with olive oil. I left the colourful jar to infuse, knowing that my medicinal infusion would be ready in 2-3 weeks.

infusing turmeric & black pepper in olive oil

infusing turmeric & black pepper in olive oil

About a week after the dream I began to have a peculiar problem with my little finger. It kept getting stuck in a bent position, especially during the night and long periods of inactivity. After a bit of self diagnosis I worked out that I had developed trigger finger! A ridiculous sounding condition where the finger tendon becomes inflamed and keeps catching in the tendon sheath. Unfortunately having type I diabetes and being female combined with my current age all put me in the category of people most likely to develop trigger finger:/

Now I know why I was being guided to make the sacred trio elixir (or with less grandiosity: black pepper and turmeric infused oil). I can not only drizzle it over my food, or add a dash into smoothies, but I can also use it topically, to rub at the base of my little finger where I have located the painful and inflamed area leading to my fingers peculiar symptoms.

Hedge-witches always say that the remedy you need will appear to you before you realise you need it, this time for sure that wisdom is true.


Cautions: Do not use this oil internally if pregnant, breast feeding or have had gall bladder problems. Discontinue use if on using you experience gastro-intestinal discomfort.


The Love & Loss of Ancient Trees

I love summer! It gives me the opportunity to get outside more, to go camping, to explore and discover. I also usually make it to the odd festival or two. Festivals, luckily, are often sited in great locations with rolling hills, rich hedgerows and ancient trees peppering the landscape.

beautiful shady beech in camping area

beautiful shady beech in camping area

A few weekends ago I was at just such a festival, on an incredible site. Lakes and ancient trees punctuated rolling meadows. It was gorgeous, with lovely sunny weather to match. I had found an amazing huge beech to camp under and was grateful all weekend for the deep delicious cooling shade its generous branches offered me. In fact I spent much of the weekend admiring the great ancient trees, some of which were hundreds of years old with trunks that would have taken three four or more people with arms stretched fully to circle their great girth. I was sitting under one of these fabulous trees one evening when I dropped into a vision where these huge wise giants in the landscape were not solitary and isolated, with hundreds of meters between each, but where they were dominant. Where huge tree neighboured huge tree, shoulder to shoulder, across the rolling landscape. It was a strong vision, I felt like I had been transported to Sherwood Forest of old, with Robin Hood making camp not far away. My eyes welled with tears at the beauty of what once was. Once our land was full of ancient forest, strong, rich and green.

As I wiped the tears from my eyes the reality of our modern landscape hit me, that here on this private estate where large ancient trees still lived they were few and far between. What have we done? I thought as the sad sparseness of summer singed grass filled most of my view. I felt sad for the trees who once looked upon something so much more magnificent, I felt sad for the people, myself included, who had never known such strong and vibrant forest flourishing on this land.

After I had digested my realisation I went back to join the festival where between music and art, people were enjoying wild swimming in the lakes, running and foraging on the festival fringes. I enjoyed some music before walking back to my camp. I turned to look back at the stage where the band had now finished and saw very clearly what humankind have become in a land without a real day to day nature connection, without the mentorship of ancient trees to hold us and guide us. A sea of plastic lined the ground, highlighted in the bright beams shining out from the stage.

post festival sea of plastic

post festival sea of plastic

Where are we? What are we doing? If as a collective we can go and enjoy ourselves in the open air, sit in the warm summer sun and enjoy the cooling shade of trees, swim in soft silky smooth lake water, learn which plants we can safely forage for food and medicine and yet still treat the land as a waste dump…

We have some serious unlearning to do. We have some serious rewilding to do. I don’t know how to tackle the ignorance, how to stop people from feeling that it is ok to just throw their unwanted plastic on the ground. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when you look at what we are up against, but if you do so it becomes easy to feel that there is no hope and to do nothing. I know that what I can do is change myself, and through my life and work do the best I can to touch those immediately around me.

I want a world where ancient trees grow shoulder to shoulder with ancient trees. Where we all breathe oxygen rich air in the green shade of towering trees, where we all acknowledge and respect Gaia, nature, and realise that we are forever entangled, there is no separation. What we do to “nature” we do to ourselves.

Time to go plant a few more plants, gather the fruits of the forest for my dinner, and plan some more workshops where I hope to inspire others to see the world the way that I do…

For a list of my upcoming workshops click here…

Wilderness festival UK Wild medicine walks with author Rachel Corby Rewild yourself becoming nature and the medicine garden, England UK

Ancient tree love🙂

Time for a Calming Brew

It has been quite a while since I have posted on this blog. So much has happened and changed for me, personally in my own life, and of course in the recent political landscape here in the UK. It is a time where tempers are continuing to rage and stress and anxiety are touching many people (and that was all before the referendum results!!).

Standing Barefoot

Standing Barefoot

I find that the best medicine for times such as these is of course time spent outside surrounded by nature, by our plant, animal and mineral relations. Just taking the time to walk barefoot on early morning dew laden grass, or to lie back in the park, eyes closed with the sun warming ones face, during lunch break will do wonders for reducing anxiety levels and grounding oneself.

Rose in my garden

Rose in my garden

There are herbal teas that can help too. Rose (Rosa spp.) is great for opening the heart and letting love back in. Lemonbalm (Melissa officinalis) (which grows strong and wildly in my back garden) helps with nervous tension, insomnia and unsettling dreams. It can also help lift one’s spirits and improve one’s sense of wellbeing, combined with rose it works as a wonderfully potent uplifting heart opener. Both teas can be drunk up to three times a day to really benefit from these beneficial qualities. I certainly recommend them both right now. In fact I am off outside right now to smell the roses and collect a few leaves of lemonbalm for a fresh lunchtime brew. Join me and spread the word!🙂

Collecting Fresh Lemonbalm (Melissa officinalis)

Collecting Fresh Lemonbalm (Melissa officinalis)


“Bee”sotted with Bees

This post is the third and final guest post from one of the guest tutors on the rewilding apprenticeship I am running this summer. This entry is from the lovely Brigit Strawbridge. I first met Brigit a short while after she wrote a fabulous review for my first book The Medicine Garden back in early 2010. Brigit invited me to give a series of talks on the top deck of her Big Green Bus at the Malvern Spring Gardening show. Despite the rainy windy weather outside it was cosy and fun on the bus. We have been friends ever since and I am really delighted that she will be coming to share her great knowledge with us on the apprenticeship.

Brigit Strawbridge

Brigit Strawbridge, Bee Ambassador

I have to admit to being just a little obsessed with bees. In fact it’s probably fair to say I’m quite ‘bee’sotted. Bees have fascinated and enchanted me since my childhood, but it is only since the media started reporting on bee decline some years back that I fully appreciated the magnitude of their importance as pollinators – and how much I had always taken these amazing little creatures for granted.

Since then, I have been campaigning, talking and writing to raise awareness of the importance of bee diversity, the ways different species access and pollinate different flowering plants and the myriad reasons for the declines in bee diversity, range and population. I firmly believe that if we get it right for bees we will, in turn, get it right for all life on earth.


My approach when I first started looking into this issue was to focus on the

A Nitidia Male Bee

A Nitidia Male Bee


importance of bees to the human food chain and the pesticides that were contributing, in part, to their decline. I read, watched and digested everything I could get my hands on, learning more and more each year till both my head and my home were full to bursting with information: facts and figures; names of bees; types of pesticides; scientific reports; lists of this and that; and goodness knows what else.

This was all well and good, but in my rush to assimilate the kind of information I thought I needed to help me understand and pass on what exactly was going wrong, I almost missed out on understanding the most important thing of all – i.e. the bees themselves, their beauty, their behaviour and their intrinsic worth.

Once this dawned upon me everything began to change as a whole new and incredible world began to unfold…..

B lapidaries bee in harebell

B lapidaries bee in harebell


Instead of reading books and spending time researching on the computer I now started to spend more and more time outside watching and listening to bees. I learned to recognise certain species and individuals by the sounds of their different buzzes; came to know what time of day I might be likely to find certain bees on certain plants; worked out how to tell male bumblebees from female bumblebees; could hear with my eyes closed when bumblebees were collecting pollen from the welsh poppies in my garden rather than aquilegia growing next to them; and began to guess from the shape, colour and size of certain flowers which bee (or other pollinator) I might to expect to collect pollen from that flower. It soon became obvious that I was learning things from the bees that I could never have learned from books.

I became more and more interested in the interaction between bees and flowering plants, which in turn led me to be more curious about the way the two must have co-evolved and adapted, physiologically and behaviourally, over the millennia. This, in its turn, reminded me of the awe and wonder I had felt as a child each and every time I made a connection between one aspect of the natural world and another. I was essentially, through the bees, beginning the process of reconnecting and rewildling.

I still campaign, talk and write about bees and their decline, but my focus has now shifted. I still want to share my newfound knowledge about bees and other pollinators with anyone and everyone who will listen, but more importantly I want to share my love and awe of these fascinating and delightful beings, together with the insights and understandings they have gifted me. My hope is that in doing this I might inspire others to fall in love, as I have, with the bees who visit their gardens… in which case they will start doing whatever they can to help ensure their continued survival for it is in our nature to want to protect that which we love.

I am delighted that Rachel has invited me to be a guest tutor on her wonderful Rewilding Apprenticeship later this year and cannot wait to share my love, knowledge and insights with you.

As you can tell from her writing Brigit has a great passion and I can’t wait to learn more from her on the day she will spend sharing her knowledge with us on the rewilding apprenticeship.

Brigit has her own blog and can be found on twitter @B_Strawbridge

Non-stylised Movement in the Land…

What follows is a guest post by Poh Eng San who will be a guest tutor on the apprenticeship I am running later this year. On the apprenticeship she will be helping us with conscious movement, visceral wakefulness and opening to body wisdom. I met Poh Eng many years ago when I was training in Plant Spirit Medicine with Eliot Cowan; she had been a student in the previous year to me and so our original connection was through the love of communicating with plant spirits and how that opens the world right up. Below she talks about what inspires her to do the work that she does…

Poh Eng San, healer and movement teacher

Poh Eng San, healer and movement teacher

I have two main streams of work/ play/ life: Energy healing, and personal movement practice for self-awakening with the land & the teachings that come through my dance. My teachers have included Dr Shen Hongxun (Lame Fore), Eliot Cowan and Helen Poynor. I have been a movement practitioner and dancer for over 25 years. I cannot separate how the streams inspire as there is a confluenece of experience where one practice informs the other and vice versa.

Helen’s work has been hugely inspirational in deepening my “body body” connection to the ever changing landscape. I am nourished on all levels body, soul, spirit. A spin off from the non-stylised movement in the land is the art and creative writings that emerge. I love the recalling of the ancient memories, where the animal, limbic brain comes forward! For example, I encountered my ancient hag of the sea. She was like an archetypal Kali of Misrule and beyond, with a cackle louder than the crashing waves. Pulling on a part of my feeling, “sensating” body as I moved in wild dark cliff caves. And more recently: “Tons of rock above me. And I, curled up in a space like the gap beneath her crooked toe joint, puts things in perspective. A deep privilege…”

I love the presence demanded when I am with trees and the layers trees, plants, earth reveal to me as I sink into a deeper receptivity. It is a complete creative communion and dialogue – the chi of body and the chi of Nature. It was a relief to realise that as long as I am true to my stream of movement, as well as responding to the environment I do not have to dance with any agendas of what I think a dancer should be like.

“My bones, my sinews, my muscle substance, fluid, cells all moving, flowing like a flock of2016-01-19 16.00.33 birds. A vast body of movement in a cohesive and random leadership group. Shapes shifting in multidimensional aerodynamics. Me, on the ground, my internal landscape moving like this. One part pouring into another, my head pushes my feet away from the South to the sky. My bottom spirals around creating whirlwinds down below.”

I love the intelligence of all my bodies; energetic, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. The Taijiwuxigong has taught me how to clear blockages in my 5 main energetic pathways.

The fact that it is a lifelong practice with no end goal.

Rather that you journey up your own “mountain exploring every nook and cranny and allowing your wisdom to take centre stage.” This is my invitation. I love the fact that Taijiwuxigong is not separate from spiritual practice, but teaches acceptance of self and love in each moment.

So yes, I love the privilege and honour of the way people take responsibility for their own body care and ultimately their life. I can offer tools and often that key tool can tip the balance to self awakening.

Buqi healing has the extraordinary ability to work with unseen phenomena in a seemingly ordinary and grounded way. I am excited by constantly discovering the magical energetic nuances of the human body.

2016-01-20 16.37.44.jpg

I am so excited to have Poh Eng on the apprenticeship team so that we can all learn from her unique perspective and deep practice.

Poh Eng is running a selection of workshops this year: The first two 9-10/04/16 and 28/05/16 are both Taijiwuxigong and being run in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire. Then 7-11/09/16 is a body chi, land chi reconnection retreat being run in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. If you would like further details on any of them please contact Poh Eng directly:


Rewilding; Why An Apprenticeship Not A Course…

Eight years ago, back in February 2008 I headed stateside to apprentice in Sacred Plant Medicine with  Stephen Harrod Buhner. If you have not heard of him he is a great thinker and prolific nature writer. Julie McIntyre and Trishuwa, Stephens two partners, also took part in teaching us, leading us and holding space for us. Ever since that time I knew that I eventually wanted to evolve my workshops, courses and retreats into a full blown apprenticeship.


Why, what is the difference? You may well ask. The thing is with a course, even a long one of two weeks or more, is that it works like a retreat in that you retreat from your daily life, go learn something new, then do your best to bring those teachings back into your day to day. That kind of thing works very well when learning a certified set of skills, massage maybe. You have a series of intensive classes for several days in a row until you have covered all the material, then you go home and put those learnings into practice through your work.

An apprenticeship works better for more ethereal subjects, for work that is more about making big changes in your life rather than just learning a new set of skills. By returning again and again over a number of months or seasons, in some circumstances even years, and working between times with the next level, slotting it into your way of being through repetitive practice over a period of time, the subject of the apprenticeship becomes you. You do not learn it, you learn to live it.

The apprenticeship I undertook in 2008 was hugely important to my life and work, it shaped me. Those three, Stephen, Trishuwa and Julie became threaded into me, they, with their teachings, became an inseparable part of the weave of my being. Of course this happens to a degree with all that you meet, all that is, but especially so with those that leave the taste of themselves, of their beauty, within your being and in turn become part of your beauty.

trees in winter

The rewilding apprenticeship I will be leading this summer is something that will trickle through, imbuing every cell of your being with magic, sacredness, with wild. I cannot recreate what I experienced with Stephen, I am not trying to. My teachings are uniquely mine, a product of all my teachers; which includes my upbringing and adult life in this country, the UK. I have a different seed to sow, albeit deeply infused with what I learned on apprenticeship myself. What I am presenting Sacred Ecology: A Rewilding Apprenticeship is Earth magic and immersion, UK style🙂


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