Site News

Where I’ve Been Lately

Posted on May 4, 2014. Filed under: Site News |

I’ve been a bit busy lately since I’m spending time editing the blog for the Herbstalk festival.   You should check out the festival in June (I’ll plug it again in a while!) and the blog!

Say What? (Image by Michael Blackmore - Mad Crow Herbalism)

Say What? (Image by Michael Blackmore – Mad Crow Herbalism)

There are lots of great herbal posts there, including one by me earlier in the week about the wonders of Oak!

So be sure to read it regularly as we build excitement for Herbstalk and you can get to know the teachers (I’ll be one of those too – talking about Tree medicine!) via the blog!


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He’s back or What’s Happening?

Posted on November 4, 2013. Filed under: Kitchen Herbalism, Site News, Trees, Uncategorized |

My overly long hiatus from the blogging world is over.  I had intended to take a little break because things were just so busy, but it ended up a tad longer than I thought.  But I’m back to regular posting and I’ve had lots of exciting things happening.  So pull up  a seat…

Shocked Cat (Image by Michael Blackmore - Mad Crow Herbalism

Shocked Cat (Image by Michael Blackmore – Mad Crow Herbalism

And try not to look so darned shocked that I’m back.

I’ve been mainly working on two things in my herbal life lately.  One is finding a nice location to teach monthly herbal workshops in my neighborhood in Boston.  After a long search, I finally found one and am starting up a mostly monthly series of herbal workshops.

The first two of which are coming up shortly.  The first one is on one of my favorite topics TREES! Cause trees are the bees knees!

10 Trees to Know and Love
(Herbal Healing Circle – Boston)
Sunday – November 17, 2013 from 1 – 3 PM;
Spontaneous Celebrations, 45 Danforth St, 1st Floor, Jamaica Plain, MA (google maps)
(Just a two minute walk from Stony Brook on the Orange line!)
Cost: $25

Trees make for great medicine, but there is more to trees in herbal medicine than just Elder, Hawthorn and Linden.  This workshop is an introduction to some of the herbal uses of our friends the trees – starting with just  ten of the many trees  available to us.  Hear about the varieties of common local trees, as well as some of the not so common ones.    Learn harvesting tips, where to buy and how best to work with them. 

Come and learn so you won’t end up “barking” up the wrong tree.

And in December I’m tackling another favorite topic – things you can do with what you most likely have in your kitchen:

Herbal Magic in Your Kitchen
Sunday – December 15, 2013 from 1 – 3 PM
Spontaneous Celebrations,  45 Danforth St,  1st Floor, Jamaica Plain, MA (google maps)
(Just a two minute walk from Stony Brook on the Orange line!)
Cost:   $25

You don’t need to order things from specialized stores or even hunt for them in the wild – you can make magic with herbs and foods you commonly have in your kitchen.  Come to this workshop and share the fun as we explore the wonders hidden in your spice rack and lurking in your fridge that you never suspected you had!

Or what I sometime call MacGyver herbalism.  😉   I was so tempted to call it that too. But I did just barely restrain myself.

In 2014 I’ll be lining up some more workshops that I’ll be teaching as well as bringing out some guest speakers from amongst the many gifted herbalists in the Boston area – many of which are part of my circle of herby friends.

The other project is something I call the Boston Herbal Salon:

Community of Plants (Image by Michael Blackmore - Mad Crow Herbalism)

Community of Plants (Image by Michael Blackmore – Mad Crow Herbalism)

which was partly inspired by the last couple of Herbstalk Festivals here in the Boston area. One of the things that we all loved was catching up with folks that we hadn’t seen in a while.

It was then I decided we needed a semi-regular social gathering for herbal folks and the Boston Herbal Salon was born.   I had a first, kind of testing the waters, one at the end of August where ten of us met one Sunday afternoon in the garden yard of my place.  We had so much fun just talking and connecting that I knew magic was being born.

Now the next Boston Herbal Salon is coming up:

Boston Herbal Salon
Tuesday, November 19 from 7 – 8:30 PM
Hosted at the Commonwealth Center for Herbal Medicine, 25 Saint Mary’s Court, Brookline, MA.    Directions at link – (directions)

We herbalists all love spending time with our plants friends, but it can be just as much fun sharing that love with others. So come on out to the Boston Herbal Salon where you get that chance to meet and share that joyful celebration of our plant pals with those who feel just the same way. The Boston Herbal Salon is an informal discussion/get together for herbalists (both current herbalists as well as those on that path) in the Boston area. It’s a chance to socialize and network a bit with other herbalists.

Bring a favorite herbal recipe to share with the group or a good herbal story!

We’ll talk, laugh, share bodice ripping tales of forbidden plant love (well maybe not so true….) There will be teas, snacks, tinctures and more. But most of all fun!

And it promises to be even better!

So that’s what I’ve been doing during my blogging vacation. 😉

Now that you’re caught up it’s time to go back to my usual collection of silly and inspiring tales of herbs, yoga and spirituality.

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Killing Creativity by Should and Empowering it by Could

Posted on February 27, 2013. Filed under: Random Musings, Site News, Urban Herbalism, Yoga |


creativity (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I’d become stuck in my blog writing the past month because I had been planning to review an herbal book that I read recently. Part of my resistance was my disagreement with the book but part of it was me having a bad case of Should (I should do this; I shouldn’t do that, etc.)….

As I read the book, I found my hackles rising. They had so many exact, seemingly arbitrary rules to their brand of herbalism it just struck me as soulless or at the very least very stifling. It was filled with rules that you Should only use one kind of alcohol for tincturing and no others were good, you Should only press out your tinctures at exactly x number of days and not sooner or later. Beyond feeling that was just plain wrong, it felt so undermining of the creative aspect of herbalism that I relish – of course, they had a bad case of Should too!  The result was that I felt very uninspired about reviewing the book, but I couldn’t let go of planning to review it because I Should…

I had also been really busy in my life the past month or so.  Heavy BASS (Busy Annoying Stressful Shit.) Sometimes when that happens I get into crisis mode where I become very seemingly calm and organized. This is great in an actual crisis (no panicking!) but very limiting and stifling to my creative self because it is all about what I Should be doing instead of what inspires me.

We all do this from time to time and in different ways.  When life gives us stress or chaos we try to impose order.  Ranging from full almost OCD rituals to subtler rationalizations – “I did it this way last time and things worked out, so I Should do it again the same way.”  Or when we feel out of control in one, or more, parts of our life we try order to impose order in others or actively avoid change and focusing on what we should, or should not do.

That’s Should.  But Should can be oh so stifling because too many rules can undermine creativity and strict rules can kill creativity.  Yes that is a rule but let’s not look behind that curtain.  Thank you Dorothy….

I see this pop up in herbalism a lot.  I’ve had conversations where an herbalist wondered why I was thinking of trying different types of alcohol in my tincture making when the ones I make were so amazing.  “You found something that works so you shouldn’t change it.”

Why?  Because that is how you learn and grow.  Being willing to shift things about is a foundation of creativity.  (As it turned out one of the different kinds I tried was even better.)

It also drives me nuts when herbalists, or anyone, gets caught in the better/quicker/more (BQM) trap – just because a particular herb or menstruum may work/extract BQM doesn’t mean you have to use it.  Others will work just fine.   Just because something is familiar doesn’t mean you should keep doing it that way!

Should is often all about ruts.

I realized how it was showing up in my yoga practice as well.  In my home practice, I found that too often after a long day of work  I tend to just go back again and again to a combination of asanas I remember and feel “comfortable” enough doing. And so a rut is formed….

I know plenty of other ones (even if that I’m not so skillful in them), just somehow when I get home after a long day and I’m rushing around shifting things in my space to practice I find my brain goes on holiday. Brain: “Nope, other asanas. Never heard of them…”  I know these so I should do them, but I don’t know those so well so I shouldn’t do them.

But how else do you grow but by practicing and trying what you can’t do, or don’t know, well?

Sometimes you get stuck because you find something you can’t let go of.  I’ve always loved this Zen story:

Two Zen monks, Tanzan and Ekido, traveling on pilgrimage, came to a muddy river crossing. There they saw a lovely young woman dressed in her kimono and finery, obviously not knowing how to cross the river without ruining her clothes.

Without further ado, Tanzan graciously picked her up, held her close to him, and carried her across the muddy river, placing her onto the dry ground. Then he and Ekido continued on their way. Hours later they found themselves at a lodging temple.

And here Ekido could no longer restrain himself and gushed forth his complaints: “Surely, it is against the rules what you did back there…. Touching a woman is simply not allowed…. How could you have done that? … And to have such close contact with her! … This is a violation of all monastic protocol…” Thus he went on with his verbiage. Tanzan listened patiently to the accusations.

Finally, during a pause, he said, “Look, I set that girl down back at the crossing. Are you still carrying her?”

Which is a great example of Should as well as not letting go of what doesn’t work for you anymore.

This brings me back to how I was stifling my own creativity by getting too narrow in my vision from being busy and becoming caught up by Should.  But also not letting go of what didn’t work for me.  You see, my blog wasn’t reflecting all of who I was anymore.

Yes I’m an herbalist, but I actually spend just as much time, effort and self in my yoga practice and studies.  So I’m just as much a yogi.  Then it hit me, that is where my authentic self lay in herbalism and yoga and my blog Should reflect it.

I’ll still blog about my herbal explorations, but I’ll also blog about yoga explorations.  Heck in the time I hadn’t reviewed that herbal book I didn’t like – I had read several yoga ones that I did.  I’ll also blog about my particular intersections between my yoga and herbal lives.  (Neat post about that coming up soon!)

So time to embrace change and real creativity through playful exploration and doing things a bit differently – or in other words by embracing Could instead of Should.

Which is one of the overarching themes of this blog, ain’t it?  Somehow Should caused me to forget that.   🙂

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2011 Looking back at a Magical Year, 2012 hints of things to come…

Posted on January 2, 2012. Filed under: Random Musings, Site News |

Magic Tree (Image by Michael Blackmore - Mad Crow Herbals)

2011 was a turning point year for me, because it was when I got bit with the herbalism bug big time and by the end of which I was on what I knew to be my path as an herbalist and healer.

In the course of the year I completed an herbal apprenticeship and, while I was doing that, I had also been studying with two other herbalists so that was like doing two and half apprenticeships. It was a year filled with attending numerous plant walks, herbal workshops and my first herbal conference

It was the year which began with informal consultations with others about their own healing and the year when people started asking to buy my tinctures, glycerites and herbal infused honeys and I started selling them. And the year I started to be asked about teaching private lessons and workshops.

The year I started wild crafting, building my herbal library, collections of medicinal herbs and herbal medicines that I had made. And more.

A beginning but what an amazing and magical one!

And in 2012, I’ll be teaching, consulting, growing medicinal herbs, assisting other herbalists in their teaching and much, much more.

I also started this blog very informally in 2011 at the encouragement of others and in 2012 I’ll start the more formal work here and developing this site.

So magic just grows!

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In case you were wondering…

Posted on November 28, 2011. Filed under: Site News |

You may find yourself asking what the heck is this blog?

The short version is that this blog is the chronicle of my explorations, growth and development as an herbalist and healer.

The slightly longer and more realistic version: it is my excuse to babble, pontificate and be brazenly silly as wanted and needed while I talk about herbalism and any/all healing arts and spiritual matters.

There will be book reviews. Herbs of the week. Yoga adventures. Informational posts. Assorted musings – some rambling and some with laser like focus.

But no funny cats pictures with captions! Well, maybe once and a rare while…I’m not made of stone.

funny pictures of cats with captions

Happy now?

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