The state of healthcare in this country is in a mess! The economy is in a mess! I personally have become one of the millions of self-employed people who have lost health care because of what is happening now, caught at the dangerous and chaotic crossroads of cultural breakdown and the as yet uncertain new direction and possibility for overhaul and renewal. I am fortunately quite healthy and in the unusual position of being past “midlife” and on no medications whatsoever. Yet, in this culture, being without health insurance is cause for anxiety and for many people whose medical and medications needs are great, terrifying.

I am also an herbalist, and a lover of the Earth and in this, I am able to work past some of the feelings of vulnerability and helplessness by drawing on the indigenous traditions and knowledge that lead us into nature and our gardens for healing of body and spirit through the wise use of wild plants, herbs and home grown vegetables. Whether it is conscious or not, there is a trend culturally that seems to point to this emerging awareness of seeking wellness by going back to our natural “roots” as it were… farmers’ markets are emerging in odd lots with a delightful feel of festivity in many local communities, garden centers are everywhere, their herb sections are overflowing and enticing passers-by. People are drawn to them as if magic, altho often one will over-hear the statement…”I am not sure what to do with these or what they are for….”. The interest in Heirloom Vegetables (grown for flavour and immediate consumption from the garden rather than tasteless long distance transport and shelf life) reveals an emerging interest in both sensuous nutritional savouring and the fascinating histories that come with the “seed savers” movement. In all this is a fierce, tho possibly unrecognized, call to independence, natural values, connection with the earth, and desire for beauty and wellness in forms that are free from the rigid structures and indoctrination of the industrial, multinational and advertising conglomerates that have shaped our consumerist consciousness and that is often misleading, false, and downright dangerous to a healthy way of Life.

A case in point is the Dandelion..one of Nature’s most glorious healing plants both from a medicinal and culinary point of view…which, by the way…is what all natural food should be. In native culture the word “medicine” is not used for what fixes you after you are broken or sick. ”Good medicine” is what keeps you whole and healthy so that you don’t get sick! The Dandelion, is both food and good medicine. And the Dandelion is in DANGER! Except for those artistic gardeners for whom a perfect green turf is part of an aesthetic creation, the Dandelion is in danger by the cultural thoughtforms and the market that is “status” driven and has convinced us that a perfect bountiful green lawn is equal to a perfect bountiful GREEN bank account! A sneaky was to “strut your stuff” and success by a very patrician standard. Dandelions are wild and free and “mar” the image of perfection and wealth ( do only the riff-raff have “untidy” and wild lawns?)…therefore a thought form that emerges in the competitive neighborhood one-upmanship and is culturally sanctioned is: “ let’s eradicate that threatening force by calling in the chemical assassins of green imperfection”! I cringe every time I see an advertisement on television for weed killers that graphically, tho in playful colorful cartoon imagery, shows us the wilting/dying of a once joyous dandelion in full yellow bloom after a dead center spray of “weed” poison! Does anyone else recognize what is actually happening there? (What we do to the Earth, we do to US!)

On a May day a number of years back I received an enthusiastic call from a chemical Lawn Service: “WE are going to be in your neighborhood tomorrow!!!… and will offer you a FREE evaluation of all those pesky weeds, with a special one-time price to eradicate…..” I interrupted ” Err…Excuse me…please..WAIT!..I am an herbalist and all those weeds you “eradicate”..chickweed, plantain, DANDELION..we use for medicine and food…I teach people how to collect, cook and prepare them!” He said “hold on, Lady” as he placed his hand to muffle his voice while he shouted across the office “Hey LARRY!..I got this lady on the phone…and she EATS her lawn!”… and turning back to me he says laughing “Thanks Miss, you’ve given me a good laugh….! We’ll call back next year”. (I don’t think so…!)

I have just started my month of May- left-over-from-Fall yard cleanup…in the bright sun last week, my lawn was FULL of bright yellow dandelions…I plucked off the flowers for dandelion fritters for lunch with a cup of soup on the side, and dug up a small basket full of dark dandelion leaves for a stir fry with garlic onions and tomatoes over pasta for dinner, saved some leaves also for a tea for the urinary tract (the French word for Dandelion is Dente de Leon, or “tooth of the lion “ because of the shapes of the leaves, and its common name is “piss-en-lay”, or piss -in-bed since it stimulates the cleansing flow of urine). I saved the roots for a tincture for the health of the liver and digestion and elimination.

Dandelions in Danger! Protect them! Dandelions to the Rescue! Use them! ..A veritable treasure of “good medicine” when you need to bring health, nourishment , vitality and healing to your life and the lives of those in your community. Using this “good medicine” wisely will hopefully keep me in good shape as I use the “health insurance” of the Earth until I can once again afford the hundreds and hundreds of dollars necessary to purchase the Health Insurance of the dominant medical system.

****Christine will be offering a 2 hour-workshop in southern RI in early June called “Your Magical Garden” highlighting the wonderful wild plants/trees that are on the land you call “home”. Culinary, medicinal and magical uses of the plants will be explained, encouraging the participants to go home and identify the GreeningSpirit energies on their own property. Workshop information will go up in the next week. Christine can be contacted at cphoenixrising@earthlink.net

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