Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
On Our Bookshelf: The Marvels of Plant Medicine
Category:
Healing

This October, we’re marveling at the medicinal gifts nature provides us. To celebrate Mother Earth and the power plants hold to heal and nurture, we’ve selected titles by some brilliant healers and holders of plant wisdom.

Though humans have depended on plants to treat pain and sickness for millennia, many of us have lost the connection and knowledge to derive medicine from the earth somewhere down the long, paved, industrialized road. Thankfully, Indigenous community elders and healers retain these wisdoms and nurture a powerful connection to the natural world. This month, we’ve selected books by five brilliant authors to cultivate and reconnect to the roots of our curative knowledge.  


Earth Medicines 

by Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz

The “Kitchen Curandera” draws on the powers of the elements for recipes and rituals. Part biography, part cookbook, part herbal guide, and part lifestyle book, this tome has fast become a culinary/natural medicine touchstone. Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz, who is a Xicana with Tewa ancestry, offers readers Indigenous wisdom across many traditions. (As she explains in Earth Medicines, Curanderismo is a 500-year-old traditional healing practice, and a blend of many cultures due to colonization.) These pages are filled with simple and traditional ways to heal body, mind, and spirit, along with gorgeous photography that will make you crave the author’s food and warm presence. A bible for anyone who wants to learn about the medicinal power of food or, as the author puts it, “be their own healer.”

This Is Your Mind on Plants 

by Michael Pollan

Famed New York Times food writer Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food, Cooked, The Omnivore’s Dilemma), long obsessed with our species’ relationship to food and farming, turns his sharp and hungry eye to three potent substances and the plants that make them: opium-producing poppies, caffeine-producing coffee and tea plants, and mescaline-producing cacti. Typical for Pollan, things soon spin from the impact these substances have on human consciousness to their consequential and mind-blowing effects on culture, politics, and society. (You may feel like your working day runs on coffee, but you’ll be shocked to learn it also fueled the entire rise of capitalism.) Something of a follow-up to 2018’s How to Change Your Mind, this is another strong hit of Pollan’s trademark clear, surprising, big-picture storytelling.

Iwígara: American Indian Ethnobotanical Traditions and Science 

by Enrique Salmon

This illustrated guide to indigenous North American plant use shares the secrets, uses, and lore of 80 plants long cherished by Indigenous healers. Each one is introduced by family, parts used, season, and region, and also accompanied by lovely detailed illustrations to help you identify each natural treasure in the wild or just your backyard. Author and ethnobotanist Salmon, head of the American Indian Studies Program at California State University, shares that all life is interconnected — an understanding his Rarámuri tribe calls iwígara. To marvel at the never-ending powers of flora with this book is to get a little closer to that life-affirming concept.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

by Robin Wall Kimmerer

A botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Kimmerer writes about the joy and gifts of the natural world, mixing her scientific training with Indigenous wisdom. This brilliant collection of essays, first published in 2013, experienced a massive spike in sales during the first year of the pandemic when readers were desperately looking for connection — and especially connection with nature. An incredible teacher, Kimmerer’s words can bring readers to tears with her passion, her insights, and her truly gorgeous writing. 

The Native American Herbalist's Bible, 3-in-1 

by Linda Osceola Naranjo

For those interested in using plants for DIY remedies and their overall medicine cabinet, this will be (just as the title declares) your bible: the beginning herbalist’s best friend. As stated, this volume contains three books for a complete reference guide. The first is an overview of the forgotten history of Native American Medicine with lessons on harvesting and administering. The second contains profiles of over 75 herbs and wild plants, including their traditional uses and information on dosages. The third has step-by-step guides for teas, salves, oils, and extracts along with healing recipes. Simply the most comprehensive resource out there, you’ll want to place this one on an easily-accessible kitchen shelf.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

On Our Bookshelf: The Marvels of Plant Medicine

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Category:
Healing

This October, we’re marveling at the medicinal gifts nature provides us. To celebrate Mother Earth and the power plants hold to heal and nurture, we’ve selected titles by some brilliant healers and holders of plant wisdom.

Though humans have depended on plants to treat pain and sickness for millennia, many of us have lost the connection and knowledge to derive medicine from the earth somewhere down the long, paved, industrialized road. Thankfully, Indigenous community elders and healers retain these wisdoms and nurture a powerful connection to the natural world. This month, we’ve selected books by five brilliant authors to cultivate and reconnect to the roots of our curative knowledge.  


Earth Medicines 

by Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz

The “Kitchen Curandera” draws on the powers of the elements for recipes and rituals. Part biography, part cookbook, part herbal guide, and part lifestyle book, this tome has fast become a culinary/natural medicine touchstone. Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz, who is a Xicana with Tewa ancestry, offers readers Indigenous wisdom across many traditions. (As she explains in Earth Medicines, Curanderismo is a 500-year-old traditional healing practice, and a blend of many cultures due to colonization.) These pages are filled with simple and traditional ways to heal body, mind, and spirit, along with gorgeous photography that will make you crave the author’s food and warm presence. A bible for anyone who wants to learn about the medicinal power of food or, as the author puts it, “be their own healer.”

This Is Your Mind on Plants 

by Michael Pollan

Famed New York Times food writer Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food, Cooked, The Omnivore’s Dilemma), long obsessed with our species’ relationship to food and farming, turns his sharp and hungry eye to three potent substances and the plants that make them: opium-producing poppies, caffeine-producing coffee and tea plants, and mescaline-producing cacti. Typical for Pollan, things soon spin from the impact these substances have on human consciousness to their consequential and mind-blowing effects on culture, politics, and society. (You may feel like your working day runs on coffee, but you’ll be shocked to learn it also fueled the entire rise of capitalism.) Something of a follow-up to 2018’s How to Change Your Mind, this is another strong hit of Pollan’s trademark clear, surprising, big-picture storytelling.

Iwígara: American Indian Ethnobotanical Traditions and Science 

by Enrique Salmon

This illustrated guide to indigenous North American plant use shares the secrets, uses, and lore of 80 plants long cherished by Indigenous healers. Each one is introduced by family, parts used, season, and region, and also accompanied by lovely detailed illustrations to help you identify each natural treasure in the wild or just your backyard. Author and ethnobotanist Salmon, head of the American Indian Studies Program at California State University, shares that all life is interconnected — an understanding his Rarámuri tribe calls iwígara. To marvel at the never-ending powers of flora with this book is to get a little closer to that life-affirming concept.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

by Robin Wall Kimmerer

A botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Kimmerer writes about the joy and gifts of the natural world, mixing her scientific training with Indigenous wisdom. This brilliant collection of essays, first published in 2013, experienced a massive spike in sales during the first year of the pandemic when readers were desperately looking for connection — and especially connection with nature. An incredible teacher, Kimmerer’s words can bring readers to tears with her passion, her insights, and her truly gorgeous writing. 

The Native American Herbalist's Bible, 3-in-1 

by Linda Osceola Naranjo

For those interested in using plants for DIY remedies and their overall medicine cabinet, this will be (just as the title declares) your bible: the beginning herbalist’s best friend. As stated, this volume contains three books for a complete reference guide. The first is an overview of the forgotten history of Native American Medicine with lessons on harvesting and administering. The second contains profiles of over 75 herbs and wild plants, including their traditional uses and information on dosages. The third has step-by-step guides for teas, salves, oils, and extracts along with healing recipes. Simply the most comprehensive resource out there, you’ll want to place this one on an easily-accessible kitchen shelf.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
On Our Bookshelf: The Marvels of Plant Medicine
Category:
Healing

This October, we’re marveling at the medicinal gifts nature provides us. To celebrate Mother Earth and the power plants hold to heal and nurture, we’ve selected titles by some brilliant healers and holders of plant wisdom.

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About

Esalen Team

On Our Bookshelf: The Marvels of Plant Medicine

About

Esalen Team

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