This past weekend I had the honor of studying with the amazing herbalist Susun Weed. One of my closest girlfriends gifted me a weekend long holiday away to Woodstock to experience Susun’s moon lodge, an all day class on cold and flu remedies and an all day class on digging our roots.To say it was transformational is an understatement. Let’s start at the beginning.
First we drove up on Friday, with my littlest son who is 14 months and arrived at Susan’s Wild Woman Center right as the moon lodge had started. The drive through her driveway in the dark was exciting and spooky and we felt as though we were approaching Baba Yaga’s house and were expecting to see it propped on top of some giant chicken legs. We got out of the car and could hear the distant sound of women singing in the woods. We walked towards the sound and then heard a familiar voice asking loudly for us to turn off our phone flashlight which we were using to see where we were going. The light was extingushed and we were asked to trust into the darkness and follow the sound of the voice. We were led to a circle of women in the dark and that’s about all I can share from moon lodge because what happens in moon lodge stays in moon lodge because the container is sacred and sealed. However, I will say that a beautiful space of honoring and sharing is held and the openness and love that poured out was overwhelming. I knew I was home.
The next morning we showed up driving up that same driveway but this time in daylight and pilled out to meet at the talking stick and were greeted with smiling faces and nourishing herbal infusions of linden. We dove into a day of learning all about cold and flu prevention and treatment and I can say that the way I care for my family herbally has definitely shifted and I’m excited to see how this season fares for us with all my new knowledge, medicines and intentions.
Susun’s style of teaching is amazing. It’s filled with songs, stories and an endless stream of brilliant experiences and ideas. She has strong opinions about everything and always stands in her power to share them. You are not allowed to take notes as she wants your to listen, which at first scared me, as I thought I wouldn’t remember anything but then I eased into it and loved not having the worry of what to write down or not. I was sitting in circle listening and learning from the woman who wrote my favorite books on herbalism. It was surreal, mind blowing and grounding at the same time. We made our own lunch from her land, nettle soup with potatoes and astragulus (an herb I’m adding to everything now; eggs, hummus, tea – even my 4 year old likes the taste) and a salad made of harvested greens from around the Wild Woman Center. Fresh “old lady” bread as she calls it and two kinds of goat cheese made from her goat’s milk. And of course, nourishing herbal infusions.
The next day we dug into our roots. At talking stick we all shared our intentions around taking this class and what we wanted or expected from it. I shared about my own journey of searching for my lineage, birth family and ancestors. How digging the roots is what I’m doing everyday so this seemed fitting. Also, in my own herbal knowledge and training I have never dug a root. I know about roots but never put my own two hands into the earth and pulled a root out. The day did not dissapoint. We talked about echinacea, burdock, yellow dock, pokeroot and many many more. After lunch we set to digging and Susun showed us the tols she usese t start the process. And we found a yellow dock plant to work with. Many people got a chance to begin the unearthing with her tools and once the earth around it was loose she asked, who needs a root?” I spoke up with a “I do” immediately. Susun took my son in her lap and I moved twoard the root. Cupping it in my hands and spreading the dirt back she guided me through an asking, a praying, to the root itself for permission to use it for medicine. I stated my intent of why I wanted this particular root and layed my head to the ground, honoring the growth and cycle this plant had been through and asked for it to walk with me. I could feel the root loosening ass “Susun asked, “What do you feel? What is happening?” “It’s loosening,” I replied and mere moments later it was out of the ground and dangling from my raised hand. Tears were flowing and Susun’s big beautiful smile was beaming.
Last night with the new moon I tinctured that yellow dock along with some other plants I harvested from my own backyard and set the intentions of walking this herbal path, this doula path and this path towards knowing where I come from with grace and ease.
This was my first visit t the Wise Woman Center to study with Susun but it will not be my last.