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

A Sneak Peak for Blog Readers

We have been busy putting the final touches on my new book and scheduling events and book signings.

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I am both nervous and excited.  To expose the shadow side of things -of people- is to rile up defenses.  To illuminate the things that one has experienced that may seem different to society is to set one’s spirit out in the light.  To write one’s memoir is to be brave.

“So why write it?” I have been asked.  Because I am a writer.  I have no choice but to write.  I get up, I breathe, I write.  In that order.

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This book may expose the shadows (which I had to fight very hard to release my self-imposed secrecy of) but its main job is to illuminate the path for others.

“Why is this book important?” I ask myself, as if I am already being interviewed by Oprah.

Because silence is suffocating and we have stopped talking.  Our children no longer look to the skies and recognize eagles.  Our young people have no idea why they carry around feelings of knowing and intuition.  They suffer from anxiety and low self esteem.  The healers of old stayed quiet out of fear.  To stay quiet is to let hundreds- if not thousands- of highly sensitives, intuitives, medicine people continue to try to be normal.  To take anti-depressants (which lead to suicide in Intuitives).  To possibly never take their place among the people as the seers, light workers, healers, and powerful workers is to allow the darkness to remain as a fog over the world that desperately needs every generation of medicine people to rise. 

My book is now available on Amazon.  I am offering the opportunity to my amazing blog readers to be the first to own this book.  It is on Kindle and in paperback.

I am honored to have been chosen to experience it and to write it.  Wado!

Be Brave Before the People

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There is a reason that it has taken me so long to write this book.

Coqui Ashui,” my friend and Comanche elder would say.  “Be brave before the people.”  To write one’s life story is indeed brave.  To divulge every secret means that relationships may be altered.  Unrepairable.  A good book will leave the reader filled with emotion.  By challenging beliefs and opening up my spirit to the world, I risk leaving myself open to criticism and backlash.

Yet, the resounding voice in my head pushed me forward.  I must write these words.  There are folks out there like me that may find comfort from knowing that there is an entire tribe of us that span the world but we were all taught to be quiet.  Quiet about neglect, about abuse, about abilities and gifts, and enchanted happenings and brilliant triumph and peace.  And we all need the lessons of medicine people from different walks of life.

I originally wrote a book that was a point by point way of embracing the beauty of the world and living to one’s fullest.  However, it came out like a text book.  I wrote my story as if it were a novel.  That way I didn’t have to be afraid.  It came out shallow and devoid of life.  I am nervous, but it is written now.  The whole story.  The whole beautiful, amazing story.  It was healing and inspiring to write.  I loved reliving my lessons with the Native American medicine people, and seeing just how enchanted our life is.  The birds that flock around us and the eagles that circle our house.  The owls.  The people we have met.  The lessons I have learned.  The path to now.  It is all lovely and part of a bigger plan.  I am humbled and honored.

The witches, the wise ones, the medicine people, the psychics, the lovers of the enchanted world, the ones trying to be normal, those that are too sensitive, the beautiful healers and wisdom keepers…they will be not be silent any longer.

Coqui Ashui

May 1st.

How to Respectfully Wildcraft (and the enchantment of medicinal plants)

 

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It is wild crafting time.  We have a very short growing season here and a year’s worth of herbs to gather in a short time, sustainably, and respectfully.

I love wild crafting.  I am in my element when outdoors.  Even now, I am on my balcony surrounded by plants.  I am outside every moment I can and being around plants is even better.  I gather wherever I go, friends’ houses, great aunt’s house, sides of barely trodden roads.  (Never in polluted areas and never on private property without permission.)

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There is a special way to properly wild craft.  When I was younger I foolishly thought that you could just gather what was in the yard and put them in alcohol and make a medicine.  There is so much more to that including the plants choosing to help you, full moon cycles, various transports, and intuition.  Wild crafting requires patience, quiet, and listening.

One must approach the plant humbly.  Ask permission of the plant spirits.  If a twig or leaf or root or flower will not come off easily it is saying no.  You can also see parts of the plants moving.  That is where they are agreeing to be taken.  It is really quite enchanting and I am afraid that we have been lost in our modern world and have forgotten these things.  We do not take roots if we do not need to.  The Oregon Grape Root, dalonigei, has a large underground network of roots and will be alright if one harvests the roots.  Echinacea, sochani, is not so easy or prolific and the leaves and flowers contain as much of the medicine within them as the root.  Always leave tobacco to thank the plant spirits.

Only take a third.  A third each for nature, for regrowth, and for your medicine.  It should look as if the area has been undisturbed.  No one should notice that you have wild crafted there.  Having gratitude for the plants and the availability of the medicines is important and humbly taking only what you need is to be remembered.

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There are few true medicine keepers today and it is imperative for the average herbalist (and large herb companies) to understand the importance of maintaining a respectful and ceremonial way of gathering in order to get the plants’ help in making medicines as well as keeping the energy of the medicine.

These things really cannot be adequately explained in print but it should be noted so that we can take care of our natural medicines (including dandelions!) and Mother Earth, Etsia Eloheno.

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Today I was blessed to gather sumac, spruce, cedar, mullein, calendula, Echinacea, and Oregon grape root from Aunt Donna’s.  Yesterday I gathered maple and dandelion from Rodney and Pat’s.  Tomorrow I gather roses, yucca, purslane, and lady sage.  I do love this time of year.

Embracing One’s True Gifts (and the bloodline medicine girl)

And in all the world enchantment remains as our true gifts flow through our veins.

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I suppose I really did think that everyone could do what I do.  I assumed that I could also do what others could do.  Surely I could learn to play the guitar well and walk around sounding like Joni Mitchell.  I played the piano for twenty years and cannot remember a single tune.  No Carol King career for me.  I love my art work until I am next to other artists.  Then mine looks a little fifth grade.  I can do a lot of things if I work terribly hard and then I will grow bored of them and wander off, for they are not my true gift.

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Plants are my passion.  I live, breathe, dream, create, and work around plants, specifically in medicine.  I have a green thumb after never giving up and I can grow anything in a pot or in the soil of the prairie.  But my real magic is in making plants into medicine.  This is very humbling, very honoring, and I am a little awestruck at the magic of it all.

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Over the years I have seen people working so hard, trying to learn herbalism, and it doesn’t quite work out, and then they wander off to pursue their true gifts.

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It changes everything when you know that you have a true gift for something.  A responsibility even.  The idea of multiple stores or hiring employees goes out the window if I am the vessel that makes the medicine work.  I would never sell it wholesale.  The importance of working one on one with people is so important to the craft.  I so respect the plants and their medicine, as well as the people and animals I care for.  Out of all the gifts I could have been given, I am deeply honored and slightly insanely passionate about being a plant healer.

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There are lots of gifts flowing through both sides of my family line, the blood line of varying types of healers, and they can all garden like it is second nature.  I am the first plant healer in awhile.

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In every culture there was a medicine person.  Many households knew minor remedies but there was one person who knew the plants and their medicines intimately, who could handle the bigger issues.  Not everyone could do it.  The odds of having it in one’s bloodline and as their gift was really quite rare.  Just as all gifts are.

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Shyanne Mae has really grown up since this blog first started.  She has become an amazing young woman.  She read my entire text book, did all of the assignments, passed the test, made an effective medicine for her father, and learned to work the shop in twenty-four hours.  She said she had an epiphany.  She was in love with the plants too.  Granted she grew up with this lifestyle, but it doesn’t mean she would fall into the enchantment of its gifts and lessons.  You can imagine my excitement that my daughter is working with me side by side to develop medicines for our community and beyond.

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So, I may not ever become a Rockette, or a folk musician, or even a proper artist, but I am embracing my gift and all the emotions that go with it, and am so happy to share the gift with my child.

What is your true gift?

Gratitude and Quarters

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The sun peeks over the horizon, as it does each day.  Its warm rays promise the beginnings of a good day.  My priorities change, and morph, as I ascend and descend on this current path.  Hoping the quarters hold out, not even enough money to put my beloved cat to sleep, who desperately needs to go to kitty heaven.  But we can see over the hill of this journey now.  Regular paychecks from Doug by the end of the next month and a busy store promises security soon, but right now it is slim pickins, Folks.  Ridiculously slim.  In the meantime we hold on with whitened knuckles and wait for the ride, and finances, to smooth out.

Simplicity and security wait in the corners of the coming month.  We sign the lease for our shop tomorrow.  We are moving into our next home this week.  Our life quietly moves forward with little holding onto us and images of sunrises and walks to the shop, a fire in the wood stove, dinners from a kitchen I have freedom in.  How I miss that.

The pieces of our life like seeds from a dandelion, fluffed into the air, settle and seed and become our new existence.  A place of family, friends, few belongings, good meals, delicious memories, valuable work, a bit of money to live on, cats lying in the sun as it warms our room and each day is a gift.

Through all these winding turns this summer, nay, the last year and a half, we have learned gratitude.  When you are missing things you had, what you have left, or what you can regain, hold a profound place of thankfulness.

Old and new customers are already calling in orders.  Gifts and encouragement from so many people keep us afloat.  We are back on track, temporary detour, thanks for staying with us!  My gratitude holds no limits.

Creating a Medicine Bag

There are different types of medicine bags and all are wise to create.

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The one I am going to describe to you today is a protection of sorts.  It doesn’t matter if you are Catholic or Buddhist, I think we all understand that there is a lot out there that we do not fully grasp.  We are a small part of the whole.  Regardless of the believer’s perceived notions on heaven and hell, there is no doubt that there are spirits, some good, some evil, entities of destruction and angels of good.  We can help in the protection of our own being.  You might see some people have a Native medicine bag attached to their belt or used as a purse but those are for show.  A real medicine bag must be hidden.  Worn under the clothes or kept very close in a purse or the like, a medicine bag is a protection device.

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My first teacher, a wise shaman, taught me to fill mine with something from every element and helper.  I used rocks, and feathers, and totems, and herbs, and boy was it heavy!  One could simply use sage, cedar, sweet grass, tobacco, rocks or totems of meaning, feathers, medals, or holy soil.  Listen to yourself find the perfect combination.  One doesn’t divulge what is in their own personal medicine bag.  Having a shaman smudge it makes it stronger and secure. (If you don’t know one, do it yourself with cedar and sage.)

For those that are healers, intuitives, and empaths, these are imperative as good work is often trifled with from the dark side, but even those that do not find themselves in these descriptions can benefit from extra protection from the negative forces of this world.  Be safe out there and do good works!

The Life of a Healer- Part 7 (grandmothers and owls)

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As most readers figured out early on, Wildflower was the name my mother gave me as my Indian name when I was born.  I felt compelled to explain to folks what I do, as owning an Apothecary could mean anything from growing pot (we don’t) to being as screwy as the shop I ran into in Old Colorado City (virtual tinctures where the herbs never touch the liquid…uh, okay….), and healer…what does that mean?  But I found I could not tell how I became a healer or what I do without telling how we got here.  The miracles couldn’t be expressed without the rest of the story.  The last six chapters of this autobiography have rarely been uttered.  Why?  Fears of judgment, fears of folks thinking I was nuts, people thinking badly of me?  This is also the first time that I could relive the nightmare that was without having reoccurring dreams or tears.  I felt like I was writing about a past life or someone else’s life and it was quite a healing process.  I just had to write in third person.  It made it easier to get the memories out.  I do hope that it might reach someone out there who needs it.  Perhaps it will save a life, or encourage a young intuitive person, or bring faith and hope to those who need it.  Now, on with the rest of the story.

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Teachers come in and out of our lives seamlessly sharing their knowledge then moving on.  The first medicine person came up to my booth at the farmer’s market quite some years ago.  She had long grey hair and lived in her car traveling wherever the winds took her.  She was kooky enough to have a long conversation with my dog the first time she met him, yet psychic enough to know my family history before I did.  And she was there to teach me.  My son is more psychic than I am and things would happen, like Doug’s grandfather appearing to him after he died, or things would talk with him.  We could tell that there was lots of activity going on in our home in Parker and she came to help get it all out and quieted as it was really bothering my son.  She showed me how to smudge with sage and what to say to put a shield around the house.  She was the first person to tell me about the grandmother that looks over me and that she could see right next to me.  I was skeptical but was trying to be a good listener.  She told me the spirit grandmother was an American Indian.  Now, there had long been rumors of a bit of Indian blood in us and every part of my family has the one or two kids in the group that are darker than the rest.  Including two out of three of mine.  But, we had no proof, no names, and no idea what side of the family it was on.  The grandmother’s name was Mary and she stayed very close to me at all times, she said.

I am using the term Medicine person because in our culture that is what we would see them as.  But medicine women and men are essentially herbalists.  But there are many who are readers, shamans, and spiritual leaders and for the sake of this post, we’ll call them medicine people.  For they were medicine to me.

The Indian woman needed medicine for her dog and after giving her some cash and some medicines she was off to find another place.

A trip down genealogy lane and a little pressure on my grandfather revealed that his father who had committed suicide during the depression was Cherokee.  Then he stopped talking and said that it wasn’t enough to worry about.  His father’s mother’s name was Mary.

Did you know that being Native American was illegal until just a few decades ago?  You could go to jail, you have your land taken from you, your mother would have written on your birth certificate that you were white, and folks didn’t talk about family members.  This saddens me.  I am proud that I have this heritage.

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I also found a picture of my great grandma on the other side of the family who was Yeopim and who was forced into becoming a Quaker.  So both sides had this culture, and of course the Celtic side has a lot of herbalists in it too, so combined into me, it would explain a lot about why I could see ailments and lay hands on someone and feel where the initial injury was and then know how to repair it.  It gave me quite a lot of comfort.  I could use my abilities for more than knowing when the phone would ring.

The next medicine person had been one of my students.  I had a dream that she was my next teacher.  She looks white as most of us are all mixed up now genetically and I had no idea that she was a shaman or the things she had gone through to get to that point.  I didn’t know what she was to teach me either.  She taught me how to shield myself.  I really wanted to learn more cool stuff regarding healing but she was there to teach me how to create shields.  Many healers take a physical turn for the worst later in life after absorbing so much around them.  Healers, including myself, pick up emotions and physical feelings from everyone around them.  After years of this, the body can succumb.  It could very well be the reason my grandmother has had chronic pain for twenty years.  Protecting myself was my next lesson.  She showed me how to walk a medicine wheel praying in each direction and being humble to the Creator.  How to layer on shields around my physical self and how to turn off sound.  I can make someone’s voice muffled if I don’t want to hear everything they are saying.  I love listening to people.  I like comforting folks.  I am happy that people feel they can come to me and talk to me about anything, even if they hardly know me.  That is one of my gifts.  People feel compelled to tell me things and that is healing to them.  But it is the ones who complain non-stop that I have to shield myself from or I end up anxious and sometimes depressed.   It was a great gift to learn how to shield.

The next medicine person is still in my life and is a reader, a Catholic priest, and a hospice chaplain.  He is Hopi.  A calm spirit surrounds him.  He helped me when my friend died so suddenly.  He helped me understand the hypersensitivity that surrounds being a healer.  I cannot be under fluorescent lights very long.  I do not use overhead lighting at all.  Only oil lamps, candles, and twinkly lights.  I love soft music but can’t be around loud noises, and the television drives me crazy.  I simply cannot handle the lights and sounds from it.  Large groups of people overwhelm me.

Many years ago he had done a reading for me that showed how our family was doing.  (Tarot cards are not necessarily of the devil, folks.  If used properly they are simply a tool in helping us see clearly.)  Andrew would very likely become a spiritual leader later on.  Shyanne was often pulled one way or another because of her peace keeping abilities and needed to make sure she didn’t end up in relationships that took advantage of her.  Emily was seen as a strong storm.  Strong willed and well balanced.  Doug and I would continue to grow stronger together and our business would prosper.  He also said that I had a direct connection to the Creator.  Everyone does, but that this was a bit different.  I was going to be used to help the Creator and would increase my healing abilities.  The most recent reading was astounding and powerful.  And exciting things are to come as I let go and let things occur and trust myself and my surroundings.

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The other current teacher probably doesn’t even know he is a teacher to me right now.  He also mentioned the grandmother at my side that is always making sure no one hurts me spiritually and helps me with the herbs.  He is perhaps the sixth person who has seen her without prompting.  He further described her and told me about her history matching where she lived to the ancestry I had been researching.  She was a healer but since it was illegal to practice Indian religions, and herbalism was often seen as part of that, so was therefore illegal, she kept it a secret.  A line of medicine women, a long family history of herbalism was passed down from person to person but all in secret.  Until one day someone was brought to the grandmother who needed desperate help and she healed him.  He told me how she dresses and it is the same as how I dress (long skirts, aprons, a bit old fashioned I suppose) and what she looked like.  It was how I saw her too.

This teacher is a religious leader, a representative for Indian affairs in the schools, and a Shaman, clearing spirits and negative entities from places and people.  He holds knowledge and language that is being lost and our Thanksgiving prayer this year was all the sweeter with his prayer in his Indian language.  At the Talking Circle he runs on Sundays I was given a gift not many people experience.  A ceremony.  A traditional ceremony to restore the spirit and strength of a healer.  It is well known that this year was monstrously difficult for me.  And as the feathers swooshed by the face, and the language floated through the air, and the protection was laid on me, I could feel my spirit soar and my strength regenerated.

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Through the years I have been able to better understand my gifts.  I know that these gifts are from the Creator, and are used to help people.  I understand myself by knowing my genetic makeup.  I understand why I am a little different but that it is not a bad thing.  I understand how to use my gifts to help folks live better lives and teach people how to heal themselves and their animals.  I empower people to not lose faith.  I live on a farm where the animals are safe.  The breezes are peaceful across the prairie.  The views are awe inspiring.  This is my respite.  My healing place.  We grow or wildcraft almost all of the sixty-plus herbs that we use in my medicines.  I am now learning more about the spiritual use of these same herbs.  For instance, Angelica is a hormone balancer yet also acts as protection from negative energies.  St. John’s Wort is named for St. John the Baptist and also creates a shield around a person while virtually stopping depression and anxiety.  Hawthorn heals heartbreaks as well as physically strengthens the outer muscle of the heart.

The owls have been here since we moved in and they are increasing.  They fly over my head into the nearest tree.  They are my spirit animal.  But they are also a sign of transition.  I am nowhere near my peak.  A woman does not come into her complete ability until her menses stop.  I have much to learn still and many people to reach.  I have folks to teach and inspire.  I have more plants to learn from and more teachers ahead of me.  And I am a teacher too.  The future looks bright.

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