Embracing Fall


It is fall again, the Wolf time of the year. A time to be with community and to help the community.  Fall is also about abundance. The harvest is over and now it is the time to make sure everyone in the community has enough to get through the winter. So fall is also about generosity; of material things and also of spirit.

This is when we share what we have harvested from the garden, the medicines we have made during the year, our time and energy.  This is when we call on the wolf spirit, those who watch over and take care of the community. Do my relations, friends and neighbors have enough food, heat, warm things for the coming winter? What can I do to help with that?

Fall is the time to start slowing down at night, to start turning our energy inward some.  It is the start of the quieting down time.  This is a good time to do a short cleanse for a few days; to change the body both physically and energetically. It is the start of the story telling time.

Out West here, it was a rough year weather-wise. In Northern California in the county I live in, we had the hottest and driest time in over 100 years.  Creeks that have never dried up, including ours  on the land did. The plants could barely live, much less thrive.  There has been a holding feeling, a trying to get through until the rains come feeling.  We have seen the bears coming down looking for water and the snakes in places they usually aren’t.

This is a year to only take plants the plants you absolutely need. It is a good lesson in not going to other places to harvest plants unless you have a long standing relationship with that place  so that you know if  it has been a very hard year on all the beings and taking is not  the order of things at this time.

For the last month the birds have been coming down to the land from the higher country and also the migrating birds and butterflies have been coming through.  They have really been eating the seeds that are around.  I highly recommend that you not cut down your plants in the garden until the spring.  Not only do the birds need the seeds, but they use them for perches and tuck-in places during the winter rains and snows.   All those plants people cut down to make the place look nicer the animals really need.

Photo by Claire Bohman.

Photo by Claire Bohman.

This is the time of year we start to go out and spread seed from the plants that are here.  This year, after seeing how little has grown and that there are less seeds, we have decided to not spread the seeds but leave them for the animals and the birds. It  has been a hard year on them and they will need all the help to get through the winter.  The acorn harvest was much smaller this year, especially after last year’s huge crop.  The animals are having to work harder to find and store their food.

If you are someone who feeds the birds, fall is especially important for them.  For the migrating birds as well as those getting ready for the winter.  Our ‘official’ herb garden is crazy-full with birds eating all the herb seeds and the last round of strawberries and raspberries we left for them.  Even though it feels odd to not be out there spreading seed, it seems like the right decision.

This is a good time to start the deep immune tonics for the fall and winter time.  To start cooking with the medicinal mushrooms and astragalus, if you aren’t already.  To start taking elderberry tea or tincture and to remember to cover up your kidneys and throat from the fall winds.

It is also the time to start to go to bed earlier and sleep more.  Fall is the time to wean away from the cooler, juicier summer foods and start having root crops and bitter greens (which are great all year) and heavier grains and beans.  We have already had really early frosts this year, temps in the high 20’s and low 30’s, and building fires to heat our home.

This is also a time many people are doing heavier work to get ready for winter.  Remember to use one of the best Wolf medicines out there and one of my favorite plants, True Solomon’s Seal.  It is perfect to make the dried root into an oil and rub into muscles and ligaments to keep them from stiffening up and being more vulnerable to tears and rips.  Also remember that True Solomon’s is an endangered plant and to either grow your own and or buy from one of the many organic medicinal plant farms out there. Don’t buy wild-crafted True Solomon’s Seal!

You can also use this plant as a spirit medicine for the fall. It is great for turning toward new ways of being; making the changes you know are needed to have a more balanced self.  You only need 1-3 drops of the tincture once a day or one sip of tea.  If you are using the oil topically, you don’t need to take it any other way.

This is also an amazing time to be in the garden and just walk very slowly around and also to sit quietly for long periods of time.  The energies have slowed down and the plants have a-lot to say right now before they pull their energy underground for the winter.  The veils are thin.  I love meditating in the fall and winter gardens.  The energy seems to really help guide my meditation.

july-2012-054The lighting is also amazing this time of year, its angles are stunning.  Up here,we have lots of golds and oranges and reds going on. You can really notice micro-climates in the area with the color changes and the falling of the leaves.

This is a good time to start to understand what it is to go deeply inside oneself in order to come outside and understand the whole.  Another Wolf medicine helpful for this is  American Wolfberry.  It lets you fully understand your own energy and the parts of yourself you are not filling and or using; the parts of yourself that have been un-used.  Again you only need 1-3 drops once daily.

So this is what we are doing here at Blue Otter School.  Splitting wood, watching and putting the gardens to rest for the winter, putting in cover crops and mulching deeply for the snows (hopefully) to come.  Preparing ourselves with prayer and meditation  and sleep for the classes starting soon.

We also ask that you put out prayers and thoughts, and physical help if you can, for our First Nation’s sisters and brothers , aunties and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers all around this country and all countries  who are putting their lives on the line fighting for the land, the waters and our lives and the future generations.  It is our role as humans to care-take our earth for all beings now, those who have come before and those yet to come.

As herbalists, I think we especially need to make that a strong part of our lives and herbal work.  To make sure we are caretaking the land, putting roots in the ground, planting trees, spreading seed and insuring that the plant people who give us everything are thriving and growing in numbers.

Be well, stay healthy and walk in peace and kindness.



winter thoughts

mt. shasta herbal energetics

sunrise from school

wow- what an amazingly cold morning! when i was outside at sunrise, it was 16 degrees out.  it has been a very cold winter so far. waking up everyday with frost encrusted trees. for some reason though, the cold is bringing in the bald eagles. spotted 2 in our field the other day and a pair are living on the upper part of the property.  i have been checking pretty regularly on the plants and adding some extra mulch here and there because of the hard freezes.  the creek is flowing really strong and the plants down there look ok.  the spikenards are happy with the water higher and the spice bush looks happy despite the hard cold.  i have been feeding the birds lots of seed and fat to keep them alive. the little birds will die from these cold nights and the frost. i don’t want to lose any of the birds- not only for their sweet song, but for all the bug eating and pollinating they do.  have been making a-lot of medicine and doing meditations with them.  it’s nice not to have so much constant work in the gardens. just get to stroll around the land and check on everyone.