The Medicine Person’s Guide to Herbalism (my newly released book!)

My first herbal remedy book was released over five years ago when I closed my first apothecary to become a full time farmer (three months later we opened a new apothecary!). Homesteader’s Pharmacy has been my best seller ever since. I am grateful that I have been able to share my knowledge and the many recipes I have developed over the years as a Master Herbalist. I am grateful because I have been able to write and homestead and there are folks out there that support my work by reading my books. Wado, Tapadh leat, Thank you.

The funny thing about being a writer is, one cannot just sit down and write a book. It just comes. As if I am not writing the book at all. My cousin calls it the Writing Witch. Once it hits, the dishes don’t get done, the house goes to the wayside, and the writer is consumed with words, writing as fast as they can before the precious prose vanishes. Well, around here, the dishes weren’t getting done.

My new book has just been released and I am so excited to share it. It follows up Homesteader’s Pharmacy with over fifty new recipes and new ways to create and brew medicines with detailed instructions. This book goes a step further and teaches many things that I have learned from studying with medicine people, and my experiences as a medicine woman.

The Medicine Person’s Guide to Herbalism; Healing with Plant Medicines, Stones, Animal Spirits, and Ceremony draws from my own work. It is important to have a knowledge base of plant medicine. It is essential on a homestead, in my opinion. Most folks also understand, however, that there are many ailments that manifest as physical, but are often emotional, stemmed from trauma, or are purely spiritual in nature. This book covers different ways to blend modalities in order to achieve true healing. I am honored to share it with you now!

To celebrate the release of my new book, my other books have been newly edited and have lower prices. I hope you enjoy my books and thank you for allowing me to teach, write, and follow my calling!

Click HERE to order your copy of my new book today!

You can see all of my books at AuthorKatieSanders.com

Imbolc- Following the Agricultural Calendar

The agricultural calendar has eight farming and community holidays and celebrations making a wheel.  Every six or so weeks is a corresponding holiday that helps denote the time of year and gives us space to receive blessings and to show gratitude.  These holidays are Celtic historically but they are celebrated still.  The first of these holidays in the year is Imbolc.  Pronounced im-bowl-g.  It begins the eve of February 1st and sometimes goes until February 2nd.  It is not too late to bring back some of our most beloved traditions and wisdom.

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It is interesting to note that in each culture around the world, the gods and goddesses looked very similar and had similar roles.  Brigid is the goddess of spring.  She brings back the light of the sun.  She awakens Mother Earth to warm and bring spring.  She travels through the night on January 31st blessing articles of clothing that are left outdoors.  In her wake life is sparked. 

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Now as Christianity came rolling through, destroying cultures and people in its wake, the church demanded that the peasants (another word for peasant is Pagan) stop worshipping gods and goddesses.  But the people so adored Brigid that the Catholic church finally made her a saint so that the people would at least be praying to a saint.  St. Brigit was born.  Her Celtic cross is not a crucifix, it is a symbol of the four directions. 

Imbolc is one of four fire festivals.  The elements are revered in every original culture for their power to destroy and renew.  Fire warms, awakens, enlivens, brings life. 

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Imbolc translates to “In the belly” or “Ewe’s milk” depending on text and is the celebration of lambs being born.  Fiber, milk, and meat were of course ways of survival before we could truly choose compassion completely.  This is a time to bless seeds.  And each day gets a little longer and a little warmer and gives us hope for spring and a break from the cold. 

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Ways to Celebrate and Prepare

Sweep out the house and set out a bouquet of fresh flowers. 

Mix in a small spray bottle a blend of essential oils along with witchhazel or vodka to suspend.  Try lavender, cedar, sage, orange, frankincense, sandalwood, vanilla, rose, or other intoxicating, cleansing scents and smudge your home and yourself with the oil spray.  Your house will smell fresh, negativity will be released, and a fresh start will commence.

This evening, start a fire or light a candle.  Ask Mother Earth and Brigid and Creator to bless your seeds and gardens. 

Prepare a glass of warm almond milk with herbs steeped in it like lavender or green tea and enjoy before the fire. 

Place a scarf or hat or other article of clothing outdoors to be blessed. 

In our world of science and seriousness, we have lost the enchantment of what was.  People would not have been doing these traditions and celebrating these holidays for thousands of years if there was nothing to them.  Accept your blessings, feel renewed, and enjoy the warmth of Imbolc. 

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The Dance of Medicine and Wisdom Keepers…writing my life story

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I finished my book.

Two years ago, exactly, I was sitting in my friends’ living room in San Diego.  I loved visiting Lisa and Steve.  Over glasses of wine we discussed future, the spirit world, wisdom, and a book I should write.

“You should write it on the beach!” Lisa suggested.  How lovely that would be.

“I could be on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday!” I exclaimed.

The book came to me in pieces but then our financial stress made me put it away.  It came back in a novel form and I didn’t like it so I put it away.

In many books that I have read, spirits help put ideas into one’s head.  As soon as Lisa died, my book came to me in a torrent of rapid fire typing.  It was finished in two and a half weeks.  It is being edited now.

Living my own life again through writing about it was quite the emotional rollercoaster.  I was faced with being honest about people in my life.  Seeing the truth of matters.  Of reliving abusive situations, of struggle, of triumph, and love.  The lessons that I have learned along the way from my mentors and my friends and the earth have been staggering, and beautiful, and have led me to this place where I am now.  As a healer.

After I finished, I opened a cupboard and a memorial bracelet for my friend, Nancy fell out.  I haven’t seen it in a long time.  I can feel Kat’s presence.  I know that my friends beyond the veil helped me write this book and I hope it will help others, or at the very least, entertain.

This is the book I have been waiting to write.  I already have a book signing scheduled.  I hope to have many more. I am grateful.

The Making of a Medicine Woman coming soon….(still working on a subtitle!)  May 1st.

The Medicine Woman Memoirs

wild 23“I had the best day today,” I told my husband when he called me on his way home from work yesterday.

“Oh yea, what did you do?”

“I went to see Maryjane’s dance class and then had lunch with our girls.  And I wrote most of the day.”

I am writing my memoir.  I am my own worst critic.  Aren’t you a little young to be writing your memoirs?  What makes you so special that you should write a book about your life?  They might be voices from my past that just keep following me around.

I am writing my memoir.  I realize that most people have not experienced many of the things I have like working and learning from Native American elders and seeing miracles and healings and dozens of eagles circling my house.  Most people don’t look at others and see tumors and broken hearts and see where the break in the bone is.  I am a medical intuitive and am very psychic.

On the other hand, there are a fair amount of people like me that feel alone or do not understand their situations.  There are folks who were not nurtured as children, or who are stuck in abusive relationships, or who are highly sensitive to everything and those that are clairvoyant, and those young people that are desperately trying to be “normal” and society has labeled them mentally ill or ADD.  There are people that need to know they are important and special and need to know how to embrace, understand, and move forward with their great gifts.

There are a million reasons why I need to write my memoir.  And I am.  It is flowing out of my fingertips faster than I can write and I am fascinated by what is coming out.  I feel like a bystander transcribing a medicine woman’s journals.  We are going to talk about that?  Oh yea, I remember when that happened.  Oh, those were good times.  Yes, talk about that, that was scary…amazing…beautiful…devastating…real.

I want to blog about planting potatoes and spring crops and spring herbal remedies and changes but I cannot.  I am writing my memoir and it is fascinating and the Universe is quite insistent that it get done.  I cannot wait to share it with you.  Right now I need another cup of coffee and I will begin my new day’s work, writing.

The Witch Myths

501a94c193cd108c975a0b7379e57d3b“What exactly do you mean when you say you are a witch?” my cousin asked honestly.

True, when one thinks of witches they often think of skyclad or ornately draped women, perhaps on acid, chanting at the moon.  Or of satan worshipers killing bats and tagging walls.  Or perhaps the old Disney witch pops into mind.  Is there even such a thing as a witch?  And if you are a witch, does that mean you are Wiccan?  Pull up a chair and a cup of coffee and let’s go back a few years to start this story.

One of my favorite farm memoir authors is Jenna Woginrich.  In her books she speaks of agricultural holidays.  She never said the “W” word because that would bring up images of the above.  In fact, until her last book she never said the “P” word…pagan, another word that brings up images.  I was enthralled with the traditional Celtic calendar.  As a farmer the holidays and festivals made so much sense. Everything centered around the earth’s cycles and community.  It was beautiful.

I was a good Christian girl, now, and looked down on any little witchy girls, ’cause who knows what they are up to.  It wasn’t until I began to see in history how all of the Christian holidays were in fact pagan that I starting delving deeper into history.

I have been a flower child since the start.  Planting dandelion seeds in the neighbor’s grass when I was eight, spending vast amounts of time as a teenager alone in nature.  Becoming an herbalist and spending time walking through woods.  I am in love with the plants, the creatures that share this planet, and the cycles of the earth.  I realize how small we are in the whole scheme of things and that we are intricately connected to all things.

I spent a lot of time mentoring with Native American elders and the American Indian religions are the same as the Celtic.  Earth and nature based.  As I continued to research I found that all over the world the ways of thinking and connecting with Great Spirit was the same until organized religion came about (not just Christianity).

Enter the “W” word.  The word “Witch” means wise woman. Okay, hold onto your coffee cups, we’re about to get real here.  Lighting candles to send prayers to heaven, sending intentions to the Universe in hopes that they come true, all of these things are essentially a part of our genetic heritage and inner knowing.  We do them in church, but they are not religious practices.  We are interconnected with everything in the Universe and we can manifest and imagine whatever we want into being.  We are not hopeless little creatures running around hoping God will save us.  We have been given great power to do good and make changes and be instruments of healing.

So a working witch might help you put together a mantra, a spell, may help you dispel negative energy in your house (like a priest would), may help guide you, may make you some amazing tea that helps with arthritis.  She/he may go out and look at the intensity of the stars and may follow biodynamic farming (by the moon), they may be a vegetarian because they love animals.  None of these things make someone a witch.  And being a witch doesn’t mean that you aren’t Christian, Jewish, or Buddhist.  Being a witch does not mean you are Wiccan. Wicca is an organized religion and not all of us want to jump back into that boat!  Being a witch might just be seeing the Great Spirit in waterfalls and sparrows, in all of creation.  A witch sees through people.  They don’t need to be in organizations that are based on power and fear.

Pagan means “rustic villager”.  It was a moniker given by the warriors that came to convert the villagers.  The spirituality of our indigenous ancestors was not taught.  It was known.  In your spirit, it is still known.  It is the most natural spirituality there is.  It is universal.  A Witch is someone who helps people.  They often have intuitive abilities, they can help heal, they can help guide, they can teach you how to manifest, they see the glory in all of creation, and live their lives by it.  They help create a better planet, a more compassionate community, and they see magic all around them, every day.  That is the world of the Witch.  It’s a beautiful place to be.

That’s what I mean.

 

 

Brigid and Joyous Imbolc

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And she awakens at the dawn of Imbolc and wanders the country side warming the earth as she goes, for the maiden has been reborn and with her the internal fire of life.  She is Brigid, the Celtic goddess who was so beloved among the people that the Catholic Church made her a saint in order to lead the people into Christianity.  But long before that she was there.  Her cross was the symbol of the directions and the sun wheel.

We place water out to greet her.

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The agricultural calendar is also called the Wheel of the Year and roughly every six weeks there is a holiday, a celebration, an event that corresponds with the natural intricacies of life and nature.  Imbolc is the whisperings of spring.  The first lambs are born.  The days warm slight.  Farmers prepare for spring planting.

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Brigid is the goddess of children and fertility.  The protector of midwives.  The promise of new life.

She is the goddess of creativity.  This time of year is when our hearts awaken and we desire to create something new, or something beautiful, or perhaps just an old fashioned valentine.  She is the maiden in the sacred trinity or maiden-mother-crone.  She is youth and vitality.

She is the goddess of healing waters known as the Lady of the Sacred Flame.  Next time you visit a hot springs think of Brigid and thank her for the healing virtues and warmth of the water.

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She is the goddess of our precious animals and of crops.  Farmers thank her for her blessing.  A bowl of honey or a bit of milk to offer her was left out the eve of Imbolc.  She is the patroness of wealth upon the land and the life she brings to crops and animals and the fire she brings to our souls after a dreary January brings gratitude and hope.

The waters we leave out for her to bless are used in sacred medicines and for healing.  Look for baby animals in your travels being born.  Smile at a child.  Get out a seed catalogue.  Make a beautiful wreath for your door.  Warm yourself in a bath.  Wash away the winter doldrums for spring is on its path.

Today light a red candle and ask for compassion for all things, including yourself.  Feel the life flame within yourself come alive.

Keeping Yule Celebrations Alive

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The nights were dark and starry.  Cold as the winds blew and the people of the time stayed indoors, lamps and fires lit, families gathered in the dimly lit homes of the land.

The solstice was coming soon and across the lands the sun would shine a bit more each day.  This was a cause for great celebration among the people.  Twenty-thousand plus years before organized religion the families of the ancient lands bundled up in furs and lit lanterns and went from house to house bringing light and song to their neighbors.

The spring prior the God and the Goddess conceived and on December 21st the Goddess would give birth to the son of God, the sun.  The Holly King and his reindeer came around with gifts in exchange for a bowl of porridge.  And during the twelve days of Yule fires were lit, celebrations were had, and light was spread by all.

The newer religions of today borrow the same concepts of celebration and light.  What can we do today to celebrate Yuletide?  Spread light around you.  Compliment strangers and friends.  Check on elders and see if they are well fed and if they need company.  Invite folks into your home for a warm pot of soup and a game of cards.  Give simple, handmade gifts.  Set up twinkly lights and a Yule tree.  Sing and rejoice for the Sun God is coming and will brighten each day.

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Happy Yule everyone!

Yuletide Wishes

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My granddaughter spent the night.  This morning in the cool of the dark morning I pulled the soft covers up under our chins refusing the late dawn.  The smell of coffee wafted in the door.  The cats purred and stretched.  Bits of light cascaded past the window to announce the winter solstice.  Last night was the darkest and longest night of the year.

Maryjane and I went out last night with a small bow of pine from the Christmas (Yule) tree.  We lit the end of it and let the smoke rise up to the bright stars above (the only kind of bonfire allowed on an apartment balcony!).  We said hello to Kat as well as our animals, friends, and family that have passed on to the next dimension among the star people.  We said thank you for all the many blessings of the year and welcomed the new sun.

The people of the world for centuries upon centuries have held bonfires and feasts to celebrate Yule.  Using precious food from their dwindling larders as a way of letting Mother Earth know that the people trusted her to provide for them in the fields of Spring.  Bonfires on the darkest night, perhaps a bit of spirits, food, and festivity sang through the cold night air.

Today starts the sun’s presence growing stronger over the next six months.  Each day it will be light a bit longer.  Yule is a celebration of light and renewal.  The 12 days of Christmas was actually the 12 days of Yule, beginning on the winter solstice and lasting until New Year’s.  Greenery was thought to protect the home from illness and bad luck and as much Fir as one could put in their humble abode was good.  Boughs of greenery were decorated with ribbons and candles.  From the Yule log, to the 12 days of Yule, to the birth of the new sun god by the virgin goddess all seem to ring of coincidental familiarity.  This is the time of year to be close to the hearth, family, and loved ones, and to celebrate the light growing each day.

This is the time of the year to review our lives, our habits, and decide what will make us better, happier, and more peaceful people.  May your day be filled with light!

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Lughnasadh and the County Fair

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Lughnasadh (loon-ah-sah) is one of the Gaelic harvest festivals of old.  The word is from old Irish text and is a Pagan holiday celebrating the first of the harvests.  A harvest festival is always a welcome holiday in this farmgirl’s mind!  Tonight is also a full moon and I can just imagine my grandmothers of old times dancing under the moon celebrating the harvest of grains and other summer bounties.

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I study all religions and see the similarities in all of them, the same God with different names, the same holidays, many customs “borrowed” by other faiths, and the joy in all of the different ways to honor the great Creator.  Paganism was not a religion pre-Christianity since everyone from childhood was brought up with great respect for Mother Nature and the holidays were based on the agricultural calendar.  Paganism reminds me greatly of the Native American ways of worship a continent away.  The Christians use many of the same elements and traditions as the early Pagans.  I was always brought up thinking that Pagans were Atheists, this is not so apparently.  I love the various celebrations.

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Did you know that the local county fairs were originally the celebration of Lughnasadh?  The first harvest festival, showing off goods and livestock, morphed into what we now know as the county fair.

There I am on the Swingers, again 11 years old!

There I am on the Swingers, again 11 years old!

The ride that bankrupted Grammie and Papa!

The ride that bankrupted Grammie and Papa!

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This year’s county fair was more fun than ever with rides and a two year old who loved everything from the young people competing with their horses to the motorcycle ride she would not get off of until we were completely broke from buying tickets!

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Our friends at the annual Dutch oven cookoff.

Our friends at the annual Dutch oven cook-off.

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So tonight, the holiday brings with it a bright full moon, a promise of more crops, and a sense of peace.  The traditional way of late is to enjoy a beer (grains) and a bit of bread (or pizza?) and celebrate and have gratitude for the harvest.  And maybe a little dancing in the moonlight is in order!

Samhain (remembering and new traditions)

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I am intrigued by history.  Fascinated by it.  I learn from it and am entertained by it and live by it.  So many modernized things were not for the best, in my humble opinion.  Of course with my long flowing skirts and aprons I, myself, look as if I skipped out of another time period.  There is so much to be learned from the history of our people and so many lovely things that if added to our life would make it all the more sweet, meaningful, magical.  Samhain is one of them.

Now I do not consider myself wiccan or pagan.  If I were to put my spirituality in a box, I am Catholic.  A Catholic married to a Jew.  We raised our children in a Christian church and they are now oddly Atheist.  One of my best friends is Catholic married to a Buddhist who used to be, along with his parents (also our dear friends) Mormon.  Our family and friends are all different races and religions and in the end we are all connected to one source.  I am fascinated by the similarities in religions and histories across the world.

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If you are like me and had most of your family come over to America in the 1700’s you will find that you are missing customs that would have been brought over.  I am a bit saddened that we have zero cultural ties left.  Most of my DNA will lead back to a strong Celtic heritage mixed in with some Dutch, Yeopim and Cherokee Indian, and Black French, but what they used to celebrate has been lost.  So we create our own customs.

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Samhain (pronounced Saw-win) dates back long before the Christian festivities (and the Hollywood made festivities too) and was an agrarian holiday.  Now that we are homesteaders we understand these holidays so much more.  Homesteading has become our lifestyle, our day in day out, our entire life is marked by nature and the seasonal shifts all around us.  Instead of a smart phone, the changes in the natural world around us make our schedules.

Samhain is the end of the calendar season.  The beginning of rest.  The livestock were humanely butchered, the pantries were full, the fields were empty and the weather kept farmers indoors more.  The folks that died over the past year were now mourned.  Agrarians kept so busy during the late spring and summer that once things slowed down things really started to sink in.  That is the case with us as well.  And if we were all honest it is not just losing folks to death that bothers us, it’s any regrets we feel too.  My friends and animals are in a better place, I know this.  I am heading their same direction.  It is the natural cycle of things.  Not a new phenomenon for things to die.  But I feel bad that I didn’t return Rollie’s phone call.  That I nitpicked everything with Nancy so much during our time together pursuing our Farmgirl business, that we didn’t achieve her dream of a large farm to table dinner, partially because of my attitude.  I feel bad that there are two more young widows out there who lost husbands.  That I didn’t hold Loretta when she was dying.  That I was so frustrated with my old dog.  That I chose to put to sleep (so feel as if I murdered) my beloved cat.  These things start to settle in as I spend more time on the homestead with less to do.  If I knew they were going to die….or that I was responsible….these things set heavy on the soul.

Samhain was a time to light the bonfires as protection from evil spirits, the veil was thin between October 31st and November 1st and you could talk to your lost loved ones and perhaps they could communicate with you as well.  It was a time of contemplation and respect.

In our modern world we do not take time to contemplate anything.  The crafts and chores that were done that created a methodic rhythm have been replaced with fast shortcuts, things that do it for us, and no time to actually think.  If we could take some time to work out our sorrows and talk to those that left, we could free up our hearts and minds and allow more joyful living to take place.

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I will spend Halloween day with Emily and Maryjane trick-or-treating at a local mall then in the evening I will light candles.  I will commemorate and talk to and say goodbye to those I have lost.  My animals are our roommates, farm mates here.  They are my people.  Their loss, even the farm animals, is just as sorrowful to me as losing an old friend.  They are included in my festivities.  I will set some extra plates and invite them all to dinner along with Doug (who is thankfully still with the living) and give thanks for my life and ask that my friends and animals that left say a prayer for me, forgive me, and that they be at peace.  I will be thankful for the harvest, all those still here, my own life, and for the year ahead.

Who will you light a candle for?

My friend, Nancy, my partner in crime in many of these blog posts, passed away suddenly from cancer.

My friend, Nancy, my partner in crime in many of these blog posts, passed away suddenly from cancer.

Our fun friend, Ken, died way too young of cancer.

Our fun friend, Ken, died way too young of cancer.

A friend from middle school high school, Rob, died in a car accident.

A friend from middle school and high school, Rob, died in a car accident.

Our friend, Rollie, who lost his battle to cancer.

Our friend, Rollie, who lost his battle to cancer.

 

Our sweet goat, Loretta, and baby.

Our sweet goat, Loretta, and baby.

My favorite chicken who used to like to sit on my lap, Shirley, along with Ethel and Mahalia and their crazy antics are missed.

My favorite chicken that used to like to sit on my lap, Shirley, along with Ethel and Mahalia and their crazy antics are missed.

My sweet cat, Snuggles, who I will forever miss.

My sweet cat, Snuggles, who I will forever miss.

Windsor, our eighteen year old loyal farm dog.

Windsor, our eighteen year old loyal farm dog.