Winter Solstice 2016 ~ Remember Yourself as Gaia

Solstice greetings to one and all! Today, the shortest day, the longest night, a moment of pause before the sun makes it’s return and warms our bones once more.

urban winter sky

There has been much darkness this year, much fear has grown and been fed by worldwide political situations. Anger, and hatred even, has been awoken and fed by the media. Friends argue fervently their political opinions and some you thought you knew have exposed a side you had not recognised before. Most of all perhaps has emerged a sense of hopelessness in the face of a world where corporations are clearly directing things from the wings, while people descend into bickering and arguing, where people have become divided, where people march against democracy, where people are attacked by law enforcement agencies for standing up for the right to have clean water not just for themselves but for all their relations.

Never before has it been more important to remember the interconnectivity of all life. Each single individual one of us is connected energetically with everything else on this planet, with the planet. This is not new age wishy washy nonsense but quantum physics, science.

So take time this solstice to say your prayers to the Earth, to stand outside with bare feet, breathe the winter air deep into your lungs and feel you toes go frosty cold. Take time to be grateful for this abundant life. And as you stand with chill air on your cheeks watching the sun set on the shortest day, think of everything that made you, everything that you are. The air that you breathe – that circulates in and out of all other animals, that is absorbed by plants for its carbon dioxide and expelled refreshed and oxygen rich. The water that makes up over 70% of your body – that is held for 100s and 1000s of years in glaciers and ice shelves, that is transported in clouds, that trickles through into underground aquifers or travels on the surface in rivers and streams journeying to lakes and oceans. The flesh on your bones that is made from the food you eat – the plants, the fungi, the seaweed, perhaps the flesh of other animals that in turn also came from the plants that clothe this planet. The unknown mysteries that create your spirit and consciousness, that spark that makes you you, and that you can see glowing in the eyes of those you love, and those you have yet to meet.

We are truly made from the Earth, from Gaia, we cannot live without her, we are dependent upon her for everything – and yet we are not separate, we are her, we, each one of us, is Gaia. We are Gaia. Everything is in our hands. We have the power collectively as Gaia, we are all there is. Fear, anger, injustice, politics, greedy corporations – we allow them to exist – we alone can diminish their power. It is not hopeless.

If the shadows appear to be growing darker, it is because the light that casts them is getting brighter. Daniel Pinchbeck

In Peace ❤

winter sky

 

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.

imag0239

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…

Hawthorn

Hawthorn

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…

 

Rewild Yourself: Becoming Nature

Yes the day has finally arrived, my third book, Rewild Yourself: Becoming Nature, has hit the shelves 🙂 I am so happy, it has certainly felt like a long time coming…

Rachel Corby, a talented and sensitive writer, has done it again with this intriguing and powerful invitation to experience the power of the Wild. Immerse yourself in this exciting and enjoyable book.”

LUCY HARMER Celtic Shamanic High Priestess, Feng Shui and space clearing consultant, author of Discovering Your Spirit Animal and Shamanic Astrology

Rewild Yourself: Becoming Nature by Rachel Corby

Rewild Yourself: Becoming Nature by Rachel Corby

“Rewild Yourself: Becoming Nature is a brave and important book of our time, helping us to turn our thinking around, to follow our instinctive nature, to find, experience and fully use all our senses, and to remember that we are intricately connected to everything around us. There are so many different layers to this wild and inspirational book, ensuring you will want to read it again and again. I absolutely LOVE it!”

GLENNIE KINDRED, author of Letting In the Wild Edges

Wild Heart by Wendy Milner

Wild Heart by Wendy Milner

Over the last millennia or so, as humanity has become more civilised, humankind has found itself increasingly removed from its own innate wildness. At the same time society has found itself beset with ever greater incidences of mental illness, stress, depression and antisocial behaviour. In Rewild Yourself: Becoming Nature Rachel Corby addresses the longing search for meaning, what she calls the dark cries of the soul, that have emerged alongside the human-nature disconnect.

Rachel writes with a passion and a deep love for the wild. In developing ones senses and natural instincts she invites you to join her in finding ways to redress the balance. She encourages you to find the wild place inside and overcome a little of your own domestication, to rebuild connections and communications with nature allowing for a free-flow between the wildness of the world and your wild heart.

Considering many aspects of our modern lives, this book offers a path which leads to a personal and cultural transformation; a future where there is space for the wild to grow.

Wild Body by Wendy Milner

Wild Body by Wendy Milner

“Rachel Corby writes beautifully as always, here eloquently expressing the seriousness of our need for the Wild, for the deep and true medicine of nature. A compelling read and a wonderful reminder that the earth is powerfully alive and magic is afoot all around us even under the tarmac.”

PIP WALLER, herbalist and plant spirit medicine practitioner. Author of Holistic Anatomy – an integrative guide to the human body, The Domestic Alchemist, The Herbal Handbook for Home & Health.

Wild Spirit by Wendy Milner

Wild Spirit by Wendy Milner

“When you weep from the profound beauty of a sunset, listen to the symphony of the forest or drink water that gushes from the earth a part of you relaxes and you begin to remember. You remember who you truly are – a wild being with an indigenous soul within a spiritual ecology. Rachel Corby helps ignite this memory in her latest book, Rewild Yourself: Becoming Nature, as she reminds us that our resilience, depth perception and ability to adapt, crucial skills during these times, are directly linked to our wildness, that part of our self that never left the Earth.”

PAM MONTGOMERY, author of Partner Earth; A Spiritual Ecology and Plant Spirit Healing; A Guide to Working with Plant Consciousness.

So I hope that has whetted your appetite for more!

To get your paper copy click here…

If you like your reads paper free click here…

And please don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon 😉 thanks ❤

“With a voice of fierce passion, Corby unapologetically charts a map for our return to the territory of wildness inside and out.”

JULIE MCINTYRE, clinical herbalist, educator and ceremonialist. Author of Sex and the Intelligence of the Heart; Nature, Intimacy and Sexual Energy.

Befriending The Plant People

This is truly shocking I know, my second post in a day! Usually two in two months is good going for me, but this is the continuation of my streamlining process. The following has been a page on my website since my first book The Medicine Garden was published in December 2009. Due to space limitations in the paper version of the book the original Appendix I was shortened to fit the space. I however feel passionately about what it contained which, as you will read below, is a selection of exercises written to assist one on the mission of befriending the plant people, of gaining access to plant consciousness, in other words. What I have written is a simple and basic guide, just scratching at the surface of plant spirit communication, however I believe it to be a useful starting point.

The Medicine Garden, Appendix I:

psychedelic leavesThe plants you notice most strongly, those you cannot pass without taking in a deep lungful of their aroma, without a smile bursting onto your lips, they are the ones that hold the strongest and most significant medicine for you. I encourage you to sit with those plants. Spend time again and again with those plants that call you.

Take some colouring pencils and a blank page and sit with that plant, draw it. In doing this I notice so many details and find a great joy in the exercise. You begin to notice the minutiae, the slight difference in colour between the old and new growth, the hairs on the stem, the little red dots and the ants that love the plant so.

Take it deeper still. Talk to that plant. Introduce yourself. Ask if you can take a nibble and do so. Let the plant linger on your tongue, write everything that you feel, every thought that pops into your mind (no matter how random it seems). Smell deeply. Touch every part of it with your fingers, your eyes, your heart. Write everything, everything, the strange urge to belch, the pain above your left eye, how relaxed you feel or how alert. Notice everything. Then thank your new friend, you can go back again and again to deepen your relationship.

If it truly becomes a friend to you, treat it as such, say hello as you pass, plants have ally plant -plant consciousnessfeelings too… Later as you look up the “uses” of that plant in books you will be surprised how your feelings mirror what science or millenia of folk tales have found out about that plant. Perhaps you will then know that it was calling to you and offering itself as medicine on any number of levels. You see it is this way, through communicating with and respecting plants as brothers, as equals, that they will tell you the most, that you will learn the most. This is where the magic of wild medicine truly begins…

Following are a few simple steps that you may want to try which may enhance and deepen the relationship you have with an individual plant, allowing with practice and time for it to become a true ally and even a friend;

1) Go and sit by it, introduce yourself and ask that it shares it’s secrets or it’s medicine with you. It is a good at this point to make a small offering, in North America it would be traditional to give a pinch of tobacco. Not being a native plant to the UK I find it more appropriate to pull a hair from my head. You are asking the plant to give you something, so it is respectful to reciprocate and give something of yourself in exchange. However, in this fast paced world giving a plant your time alone is a great and rarely given gift, so do not worry if you have no tobacco or hair to give.

2) Plants, especially trees, live at a much slower pace than we humans, who probably appear as hectic to them as flies do to us. So it is important as the next step to slow yourself down. This is a work of patience, it would be rare, for the unpracticed, to receive information instantaneously. This is where the drawing comes in. Give yourself maybe 30 minutes to simply draw what you see. You will find the momentum and urgency of your day peeling off as you slip into plant time.

3) As you draw you will notice a feeling descend upon you, you may even start to descend into a kind of dream state. Be aware of how you are feeling both physically and emotionally, note it down so that you can refer back to it later.

4) Use all your senses, touch the plant, smell it, ask it’s permission and if you feel that the answer is yes, taste a small piece. I like to take a leaf into my mouth which is still attached to the plant, like a browsing goat, it seems to have more energy, life force and a stronger message this way.

5) Use your heart to extend love to the plant, much as you would on seeing a beautiful sleeping baby freshly birthed by a loved one.

6) Throughout the whole process be aware of any and all sensations you are experiencing, write them down. Keep checking back with yourself, how do you feel? The messages can be very subtle especially the first few times you do this as your mind will keep telling you that it has made them up, that these things cannot possibly be coming from the plant.

7) Everything that comes up can and may be part of the plants medicine for you. An old ABBA song starts spinning around in your head, listen to the words. You find yourself drifting off and thinking about a tricky scenario you are experiencing with a lover or friend. You feel a little nauseous or you get a pain in your little finger. It is all relevant.

8) You feel the time is up, either you need to go or you find yourself thinking about tonights dinner. Thank the plant before you leave.

9) Later that day review everything you wrote down. I find again and again the most important thing is the feeling that was imparted, that will most often stay with you throughout the day. It may not be immediately obvious what it all means but you can look back over your notes again and again, you can revisit the plant in your heart too.

10) When you get a chance look up in a book or online what the medicinal uses of the plant are, maybe it has been used in a Bach Flower Remedy or something similar for it’s emotional effects. So often you will find parallels between what you felt and the accepted knowledge about that plant, other times it wont even be listed, that doesn’t make it any less valid. Once you start to see a correlation between what you discovered directly from the plant and what the books say you will begin to trust your instincts and be able to learn directly from the plants themselves as our ancestors did. It is original knowledge, once you trust nature to be your friend and guide, it cannot be argued with.

I prefer to sit with plants when they are flowering as that is when they are putting energy out into the world, attempting to attract pollinators to ensure fertilisation and the continuation of the species. You can do a plant study or communicate with a plant at any time but the response definitely feels stronger in the spring and summer. Many plants take their energy inwards during autumn and winter, losing their leaves and concentrating their energy on their root systems, for this reason I find the response less strong at this time of year.

The Medicine Garden paperback cover

The Medicine Garden paperback cover

To buy your copy of The Medicine Garden, where an abridged version of this entry originally appeared, click here…

Reviews for The Medicine Garden

I have decided to move the reviews I received back in 2010 shortly after the publication of my first book The Medicine Garden from my website and keep them here instead. The reason is that I am attempting to streamline my website in readiness for the publication of my latest book Rewild Yourself: Becooming Nature (still a week or so off).

So if you have not read them before and are still trying to decide whether to purchase a copy of The Medicine Garden then hopefully reading this post will give you an insight into that first book and nudge you along to getting hold of a copy 😉

Brigit Strawbridge, January 2010

The Medicine Garden e-book

The Medicine Garden cover

“I love the natural world and have always been especially interested in the healing power of plants, so whenever I’m in a library or a bookshop I always head straight for the ‘Natural Remedies’ section. There are so many books to choose from, but many of those that have been recently published are just re-formatted versions of something I’ve read before – and often quite disappointing.

The book I have on my bedside table at the moment doesn’t fall into this category though; the book I have on my bedside table is truly magical! It came through the post last week and I sensed as soon as I opened the package and saw the cover that it was going to captivate and delight me. So, I resisted the temptation to dip in until I had first made myself comfortable with a nice cup of (herbal) tea – and then I began….

It’s difficult to know how to write this review because I feel that, somehow, Rachel Corby’s ‘The Medicine Garden’ is more than just a book. It is a message; a call back to nature; a plea to remind us that we are in danger of growing so far apart from that with which we are inextricably linked, that if we’re not careful we may never find our way home.

Rachel’s introduction is written from the heart and I can see immediately that she is absolutely immersed in the natural world; I know that what I am about to read is going to be so much more than a list of ‘which plants have what properties’. On a practical note, the information I need to be able to identify which plant to pick for a sore throat, sinusitis or sunburn, is easy to find – and there are detailed instructions on how to make basic preparations such as tinctures, salves, infusions and syrups; but what is most inspiring is Rachel’s deep and intimate connection with the plants she writes about.

Apart from the delightful way Rachel writes, the wealth of information contained within ‘The Medicine Garden’ is arranged in a unique way that would appeal to anyone who has ever been interested in medicinal plants; whether they be novices or practitioners. Rachel’s approach is to begin with the plants on your back doorstep – before moving on to the lawn; the flower border and the vegetable garden – and then further afield to the hedgerow, woodland and riverside. I can actually visualise myself taking a familiar walk as I read through the chapters of this book. I see the herbs just outside my own back door; the honeysuckle and aquilegia at the end of the path; the calendula and borage in amongst the summer squashes; dandelion and stinging nettles on the grassy verges; hedgerows brimming with blackberries, rosehips and hazel nuts…..and I haven’t even reached the woodland or river yet!

I could continue writing, but I am anxious to get back and read the last few chapters of this delicious book – about the healing plants that grow in our meadows, moorlands and coastal areas. Before I settle back into the book, however, I think I might just pop outside an pick a couple of sprigs of rosemary, sage and thyme to make myself an infusion and see if I can ward off this winter cold….”

* * *

Christine Haughton MA MNIMH MCPP FRSPH Medical Herbalist, January 2010

The Medicine Garden paperback cover

The Medicine Garden paperback cover

The Medicine Garden, by Rachel Corby, is a breath of delicately scented air that fills the senses with joy. It is infused throughout with Rachel’s passion for her subject and is liberally seasoned with her own delightful anecdotes. One almost feels like her companion on a relaxing stroll through a beautiful garden on a balmy summer day. Her approach is friendly, her humour gentle and infectious, and she is open and generous with her knowledge. This is a book that can be dipped into time and again in a spare moment or as a reference manual, but it can also be read from cover to cover without ever becoming wearisome or repetitive.

Rachel begins by introducing herself, her love of nature in general and of healing plants in particular. She reminds us of our own place within Creation and of our responsibility towards the other ‘beings’ we share our planet with. She then goes on to briefly discuss diet and lifestyle and their role in health and ill-health. There follows a short chapter on the myriad ways of preparing medicinal plants – infusions, decoctions, tinctures and salves, as well as syrups, vinegars and sleep pillows – along with advice on how to administer each of them.

The main part of the book is divided into two sections. The first features herbs that can be easily cultivated or might even already be resident in our gardens; the second takes a look at plants that might be found slightly further afield in a variety of habitats including coastal, woodland and moorland environments.

Almost 150 medicinal plants are described in detail – these include herbs both familiar and more exotic, fruit and vegetables, shrubs and trees. Each entry gives clear instructions on collection and preparation of the plant, lists its main actions and applications, and flags up any cautions or contraindications. Many are accompanied by black and white photographs, and there is a section of colour plates in the middle of the book featuring the prettiest flowers and fruits. However, readers inexperienced in the accurate identification of plants would be advised to have a botanical field guide to hand in addition to this book.


Finally, the reader is provided with a series of appendices which list common ailments together with suggested remedies, a directory of resources and suppliers, a glossary and bibliography, and some exercises for communicating with plants.


Although she is not a professional medical herbalist, Rachel Corby draws upon a lifetime of experience in getting up close and personal with plants, listening to and learning from healers in Africa, Central America and beyond. She has travelled extensively, both literally and spiritually, in her quest for knowledge about the healing power of plants, and has recently completed an apprenticeship with Stephen Harrod Buhner. Her love of and respect for Nature shines through on every page of this wonderful book. It deserves a place on the bookshelf of amateur and professional herbalist alike.”

Buy your copy of The Medicine Garden here…

Earth Pathways Diary

I am quite pleased with myself this afternoon as I have just sent off my submission for the 2016 Eart Pathways Diary, a full eleven days before the deadline! That has to be a record 🙂

Earth Pathways 2015

2015 front cover

I have been lucky enough to have at least one piece published in the diary every year for the last five years. It is a really beautiful little diary, one of those that when the year comes to an end it is difficult to recycle. I always find myself cutting out at least one or two pieces to pin up on my office wall until they fade or fall (and no, I am not talking about my own contributions!!).

The diary is a great combination of art, poetry, prose and practical suggestions. The new 2015 edition, for example, has a piece which instructs how to make your own smudge sticks, another tells how to make seed bombs, another explains how in the biodynamic system people gardening in phase with the moon.

Rachel Corby in Earth Pathways Diary

My piece in the 2015 edition

My piece in the 2015 edition shares a page with the artwork of Sarah Halstead. My writing tells a little story about my love affair with Earth and how despite  all my planty communications I had forgotten to communicate with the soil itself (not anymore!). The reason I love to be part of the diary is that the whole ethos of Earth Pathways is to celebrate love for Earth, and to live with appreciation and responsibility for the planet in heart and mind.

So if you are one of those super organised people already thinking about inspiration for Christmas gifts then think no further grab a couple of copies for the nature loving artists in your life right here.

Elderberry Medicine Part II

So today, in part two of my elderberry (Sambucus nigra) medicine series, I am going to talk about elderberry tincture, as promised.

making elderberry tinctureIt is another simple remedy, I don’t make anything too complex, I don’t see the point when simple things can be so effective.

I love medicine foraging, wild plants have an extra element to them, they are a bit more powerful, and often more cheeky, than cultivated plants. Never forget when medicine foraging to ask the plants if you can take some, never take all that is there, and thank afterwards, they are living beings too 🙂

So, to make an elderberry tincture first of all collect some ripe berries. Put them in a clean glass jar, cover with vodka, screw on the cap, and wait. That is almost it! It takes two weeks for the berries to infuse into the vodka and you must shake your jar every day, talk to it, make a relationship with it (it makes for a much more potent medicine).

After two weeks pour the mixture through a sieve lined with muslin and collect the making elderberry tincture 2liquid. The boozy berries can be drizzled over ice cream for an immue system boost of a dessert! Or simply compost them. Bottle up the liquid and be sure to label clearly. I always store my tinctures in the fridge although it should be fine in a cool dark cupboard for a year.

Use as an immuno-stimmulant, a cold remedy, a flu remedy and as an expectorant for coughs and even bronchitis. Start using as soon as the first symptoms of flu arrive. Use a dropperful three times a day (1ml x 3).

That is it! For more amazing and simple elderberry recipes get a copy of The Medicine Garden.

There is not long left to harvest elderberries this year as they have been going so long already, so get out there this weekend and get medicine foraging!

 

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