Category Archives: Herbal Ally Challenge

my mother always helps me

Last week, my son and I visited my parents for a couple of days.   They live in a small town and have a big beautiful backyard that they don’t spray and always has lots of beautiful wild plants in it!

On this trip, I made dandelion vinegar from the plants in their yard.   There’s so much growing there: lemon balm, raspberries, yarrow, rhubarb, walking onions, chives.  They have an elderberry tree that I intend to make tincture from in the fall.

All around their little town are greenspaces that aren’t sprayed so I spent some time looking around for wild plants. My dad and I harvested wild leeks one evening.  We found fiddleheads but they weren’t quite ready yet.

My best day, however, was finding several huge patches of wild violets in a forest area by a river.  SO many!

Lots and lots of violets!

I was walking with my son and my mother. My son LOVES to eat violets and so he spent the next 1 1/2 eating violets (and talking about firetrucks) while my mother helped me pick huge amounts of violets for tincture and elixir.

My mother has always aided me in my hare-brained schemes of all kinds.     I thanked her while she helped me pick violets, even though she’s not so sure about this herbal healing thing.  She still spent and hour stooped over picking tiny flowers because she’s my mother and “that’s what mothers do.” (According to her!)

Mom and my Son walking in the woods!

The other lovely thing I found in my parents backyard is this sweet motherwort plant.  I was going to just leave it there to grow but my parents are planning to re-dig that area to plant vegetables, so I transplanted it (with permission from my parents and the plant itself of course!)   I also transplanted some lemon balm (which will stay in a pot!) and a tiny tiny dandelion plant that my son says he needs medicine from.

All round a wonderful visit with many amazing plant oppourtunities!

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ally updates :)

Now that I finally have a camera I can make some updates with pictures of things for the challenge!

Here’s the cover of my journal

the decorated cover of my herbal ally journal

And some interior pages 🙂

As you can see I’ve been working a bit on impressions.  I decided to add pictures of my mom, me and my son into the front cover.

Also, every year on mothering.com a woman named Tracy hosts a thread about making a treasure map for yourself during the aries new moon.  This year I decided to feature motherwort prominently, because I really do want to deepen alot in this challenge.

treasure map 4

You can see motherwort in the middle there. Here’s a bit of a close up.
treasure map 3

A dear friend mentioned to me that there’s some motherwort growing on a riverside path!  Hopefully I’ll be able to get down there by myself this weekend to sit with some new, wild growth of motherwort!

a very fourtunate meeting!

This morning I had a very lovely meeting with a man who has a herb farm just outside of our city (located at an amazing monastary that has a csa garden, labyrinth, living willow sculptures, an apple orchard and bees!)   He was looking for people to do work-trade for him and I applied! This morning we met and talked about what this kind of barter looks like.    I’ll be working there once a week in the summer and in return he’s going to teach me (and several other participants) about herbal medicine, growing herbs AND give us herbs and seedlings in exchange for our work.   I’m extremely excited!

Motherwort research continues – got word from the library today that two books I put holds on are in – Matthew Wood’s  Earthwise Herbal:  a complete guide to Old World medicinal plants and Susun Weed’s Healing Wise.

My local store does not stock motherwort so I may have to order some dried herb if I want to interact with the actual plant anytime soon.  I had already purchased seeds of motherwort (kind of randomly) so I think I’ll start them this weekend. There’s still LOTS of snow on the ground and so everyone is predicting a late last frost this year (maybe the second week of May…although who knows with this climate changing weather)

research 1

It’s still really very much winter in my corner of the world.   Just yesterday we got a surprise 6 inches of blowing snow and today it is -15 with the wind chill.    Green plants are still a dream right now so I won’t be going to sit with a real live motherwort plant anytime soon.

My offline little book of motherwort is taking shape, unfourtunately we have no working camera right now (although I’m planning to get one soon!) so I can’t show you the artwork yet.

I also don’t have any of the dried plant on hand – I’ll go check our local herb store the afternoon.   Field of Tansy suggests staring with infusions of the dried herb but I think that I’ll jump right into research!  I haven’t managed to make it to the grown-up section of the library this week ( my son “hasn’t got any patience!” to go to the adult section with me, which usually manifests as screaming in the quiet parts!) so this is all internet reserach, but tomorrow I hope to get some time alone in the library.

Motherwort ( lion’s tail, lion’s tongue, Mother’s Herb) is a member of the mint family (which I’ll keep in mind when it comes time to plant it later:)  It started it’s long history in Central Asia and has had a long relationship with Chinese Medicine.  In that system it is prescribed for heart health, menstural regulation and to promote longetivity.  It’s spread all around the world now, particularly in Central Europe and North America.  It’s a perennial to Zone 3.

Primarily used as a cardiac tonic which is especially obvious in it’s botanical name – leonurus cardiaca – “lion heart”.    Some of the actions I’ve seen associated with it are: emmegagogue, diuretic, astringent, anti-spasmodic, anti-rheumatic, nervine and calmative.

It’s also used for all kinds of uterus related things, in particular, for decreasing menstural cramps/PMS, for easing women into menopause, and during and after childbirth to promote healing.   It’s also suggested in several sources that it’s the “mother of the mother” – an herb to help mothers stay calm and centered during their child raising years (could I ever use that!)

I peeked into information about motherwort flower essence as well, because I have had some success with flower essences in the past – one suggested that motherwort was indicated for helping people feel a deeper sense of belonging in their family, one suggested it was “to love others as yourself”.  It is not one of the original flower essences.

The message I’m picking up from this research so far is that motherwort eases transitions and creates a comfortable place to be recieved.   Before mensturation, before and particularly after childbirth, during menopause.   And for the heart: every beat is a transition.

Easing of transitions. Softening the shift.

And then there’s things like this: “What is also so interesting about Motherwort is that it often treats heart health issues in women, but is not as effective for men. Nature is so clever and gifted to know the intricate differences between a man and a woman’s heart…” <source>

Mothwort Tincture: A video with Susun Weed

10 Reasons to Love Motherwort: by Kiva Rose

Motherwort: by Dandelion Revolutin

leonurus cardiaca

I love this idea, spending a whole year with one herbal ally and really getting to know it in as many ways as possible.  I love the idea of many people blogging about their experience so that we may all learn together about so many beautiful plants, amazing medicines.

I want to say at bit about why motherwort (leonorus cardica).

At first I was a bit overwhelmed by the possibility of choosing just one herb.  There are so many that have spoken to me over the years.  Dandelion, yarrow, lemon balm (which was really more of a shout at me as it took over an entire garden at my parents home when I still lived there…my parents still don’t let me plant anything new in their garden, for fear of a repeat!)

But really when it came down to it, there were only two herbs that I felt so strongly drawn to: plantain and motherwort.

I want to say something about plantain first.   The first mention I ever heard of plantain was from my grandmother.  My grandmother lives in the nothern part of our province and grew up on a Native reserve.   She told me about how her brother once cut his foot cutting wood and her mother found this plant on the ground, chewed it a little and put it in the wound to stop the bleeding.  Her brother recovered quickly and easily.  My grandmother showed me plantain and then told me other stories about hunting beaver.

So plantain is an important part of my personal symbology, mythology.

But then, just last year, I heard the word motherwort.  I had never heard the name before but when I looked up its picture on the internet, I realized that this plant, tall and pinkish purple is always growing on my walking paths or in my yard. Once I was at a ceremony that involved taking a stone and throwing it into a moving body of water.  After I had released the stone I turned and there was a single stalk of motherwort growing right there.

And so, motherwort it is.

I am a mother of one sweet under-5 child and could I ever use the medicine of motherwort sometimes.  “Mothering for the mother” as some herbals say.

I hope to keep this blog updated, but really who knows how life will go!   This summer I intend to focus on three things: motherwort (and herbal medicine in general), growing our own food in our 300sq ft backyard garden, and training to be a family constellations practitioner.     I’m wondering about the possibily of combining herbal medicine and family constellations somehow…we’ll see how that develops.

I really want to thank Field of Tansy for this amazing project.  All kinds of blessings to you and your family!