Rediscovering the Apothecary: Ancient healing wisdom on the farm

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The Mystical Yoga Farm is not a farm in an obvious sense. In fact, it feels more like a fairy garden. Guests climb off the boat and make their way along the dock and the stone path, observing flowers, butterflies and cuddly Farmily on their way. Food is hidden here and there for curious eyes to notice: a pineapple or two thrusting royally from the dirt, precious little corn babies rising in quaint rows, the sunflowers dropping an abundance of seeds. As we follow this trail through the garden, one might begin to notice the rosemary, the gotu kalo, the mugwort. Along with kale and arugula, this perfect little oasis is also a farm of medicine. 

Why grow medicine? Out here on the lake, access to health care is available but not always convenient. The abundant natural space gives communities like ours the opportunity to rediscover the potent power of Earth medicine and the healing she offers us. All those who visit and live in our beautiful community benefit from the study of this ancient wisdom as we share natural solutions in the form of tinctures and teas. With tinctures for parasites, nervous system function, anxiety and more, there is always a plant available to support those in need of balancing. The knowledge of our ancestors and how to work with these sacred plants lives on in books and lineages. It is up to us to unlock it. And with that wisdom, we can unlock our sovereignty.

“We can cultivate our own medicine,” Josie tells me as we sit together in the grass with our journals. “We can cure ourselves, and not be entirely dependent on large, inefficient systems for our health.” Herbalism is a practice of both healing and prevention, and in the case of most holistic treatments supported by herbalism, the goal is really to treat the root of the issue rather than symptom management. When we attack the symptoms, we can often cause more harm to the natural function of the body. Most complicated, lab-developed prescriptions are derived from humble plants anyways. In a wave of colonization, indigenous wisdom on how to heal ourselves with the power of plants was all but wiped out, replaced by manufactured replica compounds which create a dependence on mainstream medicine. Josie shares with me, “The solution doesn’t have to be so complicated. The most humble and abundant plants can be the most powerful.”

Josie’s relationship to the plants she works with is a personal one, built on trust and intimacy. Beyond the immense amount of self study and practical knowledge of the herbs, Josie believes in cultivating powerful personal connections to the leaves, roots and flowers. “When we repair our relationship to our bodies, we trust our intuition more. And when we can trust our intuition, we can listen. Sometimes a plant just tells you, hey, you need me. It’s humbling.” Some herbalists will sit with a plant for weeks, meditating and only drinking the tea of that plant, in order to communicate and build a relationship. Even the Earth shows us what we need by offering it in abundance. Josie three favorite herbs are ones that are considered weeds due to their abundance, and this is what she loves about them.

“First is Mugwort. It grows everywhere because Earth wants us to use it. We use it for smudging and cleansing energy, among other things. Herbs like sage are seriously endangered because they are so over used. With mugwort you can never worry about having too much. Beyond smudging, it’s a very powerful herb for women when it comes to regulating hormones and easing moon cramps and bleeding. It regulates your cycle and keeps it even and predictable. For the mystics, it’s also very powerful for enhancing visions, dreams and astral travel when enjoyed smoked or as tea before bed.

The next one I love is Rosemary because it is so under appreciated. We just don’t realize how much these plants do. It’s known as the most powerful memory aid: it stimulates blood flow to the brain and is very powerful for Dementia and Alzheimer’s, it’s useful for circulation issues and it’s also the herb connected most to ancestral memories. It’s also very good for your hair, stimulating your skin and increasing hair growth when rubbed on the head. Mixed with oregano or thyme, it’s also great to build up immunity strength.

And finally…Nettle! I love the nettles so much. They are one of the highest and most packed nutrient power houses, filled with vitamins, chlorophyll, iron. Called a ‘salty herb’ which means it has a high absorption of minerals. It stings, and it’s a very firey plant, related to the sun and Mars. Also seen as this annoying weed, they just offer so many benefits that most of us are unaware of.”

So, to sum up: simple plants with powerful healing properties are literally spreading themselves everywhere and telling us that we need to use them. They’re offering us an alternative path when mainstream medicine fails us or overcomplicates our lives, and all they offer is grounded in generations of indigenous wisdom, encouraging us to deepen our love for our Earth. Sounds great. Curious how to make your own? Josie shares that, too. 

Josie’s Simple Tincture Recipe

To begin, chop the herbs or flowers you are working with. You want to fill whatever jar you are using about 2/3 of the way full. 

Next, use alcohol with a very high percentage, no lower than 40%, and fill the jar to cover the herbs by an inch. 

Seal the jar and let it sit somewhere dark and cool for at least a month, preferably two. For the first week or so, try and shake the jar every day to encourage extraction. After that, whenever you remember to shake it is fine. 

When your tincture is infused, you can store it in a tinted glass bottle to protect it from the sun. With alcohol, this tincture should last about a year. 

Some little notes:

If using roots for your tincture, you must use a higher percentage of alcohol as they are harder to extract from. 

For those who don’t want to use alcohol in their tinctures, vinegar can also work but will not last long or be as stable. If using vinegar, definitely keep your finished tincture out of the sun.