Archive for September, 2013

Pondering the Finger or the Moon

Posted on September 13, 2013. Filed under: Path of the Healer, Random Musings, Spiritual Practice, Yoga |

I’ve been thinking a lot about a Zen teaching concept – “Finger Pointing at the Moon” – and just how valuable a lesson it is in so many aspects of my life from my yoga practice, in herbalism, etc.

MoonThe short version of the it is that the phrase points out you can obsess about details while losing sight of the bigger picture or end goal.

Or more elaborately when you overly focus on the minute details of the teachings and practice as if they were the point but instead they are just the finger pointing the way to the moon (goal.)

This shows up for me in yoga practice far too often where I can overly focus on those nagging Pitta Perfect Self questions like am I doing this asana right, etc.  And tending to forget where the practice is pointing in general.   More often than not this shows for me in not letting go enough by aiming for a non-existent “just right” asana – instead a looser spiraling exploration of myself in the journey of asana.

But occasionally I have funny moments of letting go like when I was kicking up into headstand the other night and did it with a bit too much gusto and instead of obsessing/panicking as I fell – I just let myself fall and enjoying my butt whopping into the bed and my feet whacking into the workstation sending the keyboard and mouse of my computer into their own lunar exploration!   Then I laughed, and set myself up and did it again! 😉

In herbalism, this is part of the reason I’m not big on leading plant walks.  There’s always something that has bothered me about going around just categorizing (identifying) and talking about how you can use things.

Mind you, I love me a big old fact filling info buffet as much as the next geeky herbal sort, but it seems too using and ungrateful.  I think I want to create a plant (un)walk where instead you go around thanking the plants and sharing how you have worked together with them.

Kind of like how one Thanksgiving instead of doing the normal nonsense we do that day in America.  I wrote thank you letters to the people in my life.   Giving THANKS!  Which is the point of the holiday isn’t it? -Rather than all the other stuff which just points to that goal.

One final way of looking at this all is how I explained cooking and life to a friend once.  I’m one of those folks who can just throw things together and yummy magic happens.   I said recipes are great but you really learn how to cook once you get to the point of letting go of them and playing in the inspiration of the moment and ingredients you gather.  And you really start living when you let go of the idea of a path (recipe) and starting playing/living your own way.

  • Just like in yoga when you learn enough to really play in the asanas, then you’re on your real path as a full yogi.
  • Or in herbalism when you learn enough to play with the herbs in ways that inspire you then you’re on your way to true herbalism.
  • There are no recipes/paths in your life.  A path is what is formed in your wake as you go forward.   Following others paths too closely never lets you create your own way.

Ponder the finger but let go of the finger once it helps you find the Moon.  Then you can dance in the moonlight.

Just my insane .02

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Herbal Books – The Not So Secret Love That Binds Us All

Posted on September 3, 2013. Filed under: Book Reviews |

If there is one thing that herbalists (and plants fans in general) love spending time with, almost as much as spending time with their plant friends, it’s a good herbal or plant book.

Book Love (Image by Michael Blackmore - Mad Crow Herbalism)

Book Love (Image by Michael Blackmore – Mad Crow Herbalism)

Recently I come up with the idea of and hosted the Boston Herbal Salon (a monthly gathering where plant folks gather and talk about their not so secret herbal love!) at my place in Boston.    As a conversation starter for the first get together I had folks bring a favorite book as a show and tell and boy did that start a great round of conversation all around!

Here’s a partial listing of the books we brought and shared:

  • Herbal Rituals by Judith Berger
  • Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year by Susun Weed
  • Flower Power: Flower Remedies for Healing Body and Soul Through Herbalism, Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, and Flower Essences by Anne McIntyre
  • The Herbal Handbook: A User’s Guide to Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman
  • Magical Herbalism: The Secret Craft of the Wise by Scott Cunningham
  • Seaweed: Nature’s Secret to Balancing Your Metabolism, Fighting Disease, and Revitalizing Body and Soul by Valerie Gennari Cooksley
  • The Language of Plants: A Guide to the Doctrine of Signatures by Julia Graves
  • Dispensing with Tradition: A Practitioner’s Guide to Using Indian and Western Herbs the Ayurvedic Way by Anne McIntyre and Michelle Boudin
  • The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman

Inspired by that here’s a random, and not remotely definitive pair of lists of my favorite herbal books.

First are books that inspire me spiritually in my connection or thinking about plants.   In essence they fuel and nourish my herbal heart in one way or another:

  • Wisdom of the Plant Devas by Thea Summer Deer
  • Herbal Rituals by Judith Berger
  • Plant Spirit Healing by Pam Montgomery
  • Healing Wise by Susun Weed
  • Plant Spirit Medicine by Eliot Cowan
  • Secret Teachings of the Plants by Stephen Harrod Buhner
  • Sacred Plant Medicine by Stephen Harrod Buhner
  • The Language of Plants: A Guide to the Doctrine of Signatures by Julia Graves

While these are books that I go to to soothe that info hungry part of myself, so they feed my herbal head:

  • Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chevallier
  • Backyard Medicine by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal
  • A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve
  • Male Herbal by James Green
  • Earthwise Herbal (both volume Old and New World) by Matthew Wood
  • Practical Herbs by Henriette Kress
  • Adaptogens by David Winston and Steven Maimes
  • Dispensing with Tradition: A Practitioner’s Guide to Using Indian and Western Herbs the Ayurvedic Way by Anne McIntyre and Michelle Boudin

Not that the first list lacks for knowledge nor the second one for spirit/heart but they have different albeit complementary strengths.

I find you need both an openness of spirit/heart and knowledge then you apply both in life and as you gain experience with those tools, you develop wisdom.  🙂

Here’s a really cute video about loving books!

Too fun! 🙂

So what are your favorite herbal or plant books?

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 6 so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...