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25 September 2015

Honoring the Grandmothers

Written by Flora, Posted in Announcements, Sisterhood, Women's Wellness

Next weekend at the 11th Annual Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference

por 2014 10 porch rocker cropped lo res 2Welcome, wonderful women! What a joy it is to be coming together again to celebrate our strength, beauty, and diversity and connect with the Earth in such a meaningful way.

This year, as always, we are honoring women of all ages and stages, but we’re particularly turning our grateful gaze to our elders—to the grandmothers—and to the traditions and insights they bring to us. The 2015 classes include themes honoring the traditional earth-based and herbal wisdom of women from Latin America and Africa, to the Appalachians; from the slavery era to the women’s movements.

17 September 2015

Preparing and Eating Acorns

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

The first time I tried roasted acorn meal, I was pleasantly surprised by its rich earthy flavor. Being a wild foods forager I had heard and read about processing and eating acorns, but had always been daunted by the seemingly lengthy and difficult task. After being inspired by their taste, I was ready to try processing them on my own. One crisp fall day the abundant and large chestnut oak acorns called out to my palette; I began to stuff them into my backpack, quite pleased with how quickly I could gather a large cache full. Most of us descend from acorn eating cultures. Historically a staple food in Europe, Asia, North Africa, the Mid- East, and North America, acorns made up half of the diet for many of the Native peoples of California.

chestnut oak acornsAcorns have been a “grain from the tree” for so many Native peoples because of their abundance, nutrition, and sustainability. A mature healthy oak forest can produce as much as 6,000 pounds per acre, requires little to no cultivation, and can grow on and stabilize the steep banks so prevalent in our mountainous terrain. Acorns are variable in their nutritional composition – predominately a carbohydrate source with fat percentages reaching 17% and protein percentages around 4%. Surprisingly, they are also a good source of Vitamins A and C.

10 September 2015

Hawthorn: Little Rose for the Heart

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

hawthorn flowersWhen most of us think of love, the flower that comes to mind is Rose. However, the noble Rose has a humble cousin that is such a gentle yet powerful tonic for the heart that perhaps it should be the symbol of love. This little known relative is Hawthorn (Cratageus sp.), a small tree that loves sunny and windy places. It has beautiful pinkish flowers in the spring that turn into dusky red berries by fall. Unfortunately, no one will ever send you a bouquet of Hawthorn because it is covered in thorns even bigger than the ones on roses!

Hawthorn is well known to herbalists as a restorative tonic for the heart, one that is able to revitalize the whole cardiovascular system. It has been used to regulate heart rhythm in cases of arrhythmia and tachycardia, and helps to slowly rebuild the heart in cases of degenerative heart disease. It is also a wonderful tonic for people with high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis. By helping to dilate the arteries it can improve blood flow to all parts of the body. This little shrub is a good friend to people with poor circulation.

02 September 2015

Radical Self-Care

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Nourishing Foods, Self Love

2015.4 c basket woods Life is very full these days -- preparing for the Southeast Women's Herbal Conference, harvesting, parenting my son -- just to name a few. Like most women, I wear many hats. To sustain the energy levels that my life requires, without the use of caffeine or other stimulants, I have learned that I need to practice radical self-care.

Radical self-care includes proper nourishment for the body -- good water; local, organic produce; fermented foods (like yogurt and kimchi); and healthy fats (like organic butter and coconut oil). Another important daily practice is herbal infusions -- strong, medicinal teas brewed with herbs such as nettles and oatstraw that help nourish the body with needed minerals and vitamins.

27 August 2015

Make Your Own Beet Kvass

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Nourishing Foods

Corinna making kvassI’m a great believer in integrating beverages into a complete nutritional and wellness plan. Rarely do I find myself without a mason jar of nettle or oatstraw infusion close at hand. Lately, however, I have a found a new love: beet kvass.

Amazing Fermentation

Beet kvass is a fermented beverage that’s a traditional part of the Eastern European and Russian diet and it’s considered to be a powerful tonic. There’s good reason for that. Fermented foods provide probiotics that boost gastric health and promote a wholesome environment for beneficial gut flora in the digestive system. This can be very useful for balancing out the effects of antibiotics or helping to combat the invasive tendencies of less welcome bacteria like candida.

20 August 2015

Women Connecting with Women

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Sisterhood, Women's Wellness

Connecting with Your Sisters

heartsSocietal norms shift very, very slowly. In the last century we've seen tremendous progress in bringing women's issues out of the shadows. With strength, perseverance and non-violent resistance to nearly universal oppression, women are reclaiming our rightful place as co-creators of a new paradigm of equality. And we still have a long way to go in a world where violence against women continues to be both endemic and internalized.

Much of what sustains us through our journey is the profound, primal connection of women throughout the world in our roles as daughters, sisters and mothers--the unwavering nurturers and protectors of Life. It's part of our biology; it is our essence. It is the thread that joins us with every other woman on the planet.

13 August 2015

All About Bees

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

bees honey comb vertAs we reap the harvest of what what has been sown and tended this year, we must also take a moment to honor the honey bee - an amazing arthropod that has helped make this abundance possible!

The bee is a symbol of the potency of nature. Like us, bees are attracted to a plant by its fragrant, colorful flower. In this symbiotic relationship, the flowers blossom, the world is beautified, and the bee gathers nectar from which it creates the sweet elixir of life - honey!

05 August 2015

The Wise Woman Tradition

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Herbal Medicine, Nourishing Foods, Sisterhood, Women's Wellness

“The Wise Woman Tradition is the oldest tradition of healing known on our planet, yet one that is rarely identified, rarely written or talked about. A woman-centered tradition of self-love, respectful of the earth and all her creatures, the Wise Woman Tradition tells us that compassion, simple ritual and common herbs heal the whole person and maintain health/wholeness/holiness.” ~ Susun Weed, Healing Wise

Our society insists on duality. There’s an either/or paradigm in mainstream culture, and even in much of the “alternative” sensibility and New Age spirituality.

It’s all about the “light,” and a predisposition to shutting out what is mysterious and “dark.” That tends to include the Earth—which remains untamed despite all efforts to master her—and woman, whose body and its great mysteries are intricately intertwined with Earth’s body.

The prevailing paradigm tells us that we need to overcome our connection to our bodies and to the physical plane in order to achieve a high level of spiritual “purity.” It calls us to answer to a “higher authority” that dictates strict codes of behavior, telling us that we are, essentially, dirty and flawed; in need of being saved. It negates so many essential parts of our experience as human beings and as women.

31 July 2015

The Fruits of the Season

Written by Flora, Posted in Women's Wellness

spring fruits 600 x 375During these long, hot summer days in July and August, we begin to relax a bit and enjoy the delectable fruits of our summer's labors. Lammas is the time of year when we celebrate the harvest, reap what we have sown and see the desires that we had at the start of the year unfold.

During this last week of July and into the first days of August (Lammas is traditionally August 1), we also recognize that the long summer days will soon come to an end. So while we celebrate the fruits of our labors, relish in the abundance of nature around is, we also start to prepare for the darker, quieter days ahead.

During this ripening time, may you experience the great bounty of this season. Happy Lammas.

27 July 2015

Being a Black Herbalist

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Sisterhood, Women's Wellness

Black Community Herbology

black goddess drawingI am a black herbalist, and as such, I am required to do healing work constantly connected to the past, relevant to the communities I’m accountable to, and in service of the future I want to help co-create.

Once I’m out of bed in the morning, I look for the things I need to honor my ancestor warrior healers: singing bowl, nag champa incense, prayed over stones, orisha candles and lemon water. I call out the names of the African, Indigenous, and white blood and spiritual grandmothers whose shoulders I stand on. These are the women who birthed babies at home, cooked only food they grew or raised, knew which weeds to eat and when, and sat with the dying as they transitioned.

My herbalist praxis, as defined by Paulo Freire, is reflection and action directed at the thing that I wish to transform. I fight against the same conditions that the people who come to see me are struggling with; stress and anxiety which can lead to hormonal imbalances that cause sleep disturbances which impair your immune system and render you vulnerable to depression. These disorders are also connected to the fact that we live in a society founded on racism, patriarchy, misogyny, and capitalism.

22 July 2015

Usnea: Immune-Enhancing Lichen

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

UsneaAnyone who has walked through the forests of the southeast has encountered Usnea, but you might not have noticed it. You probably didn’t know that the inconspicuous gray-green fuzzy stuff covering many of the trees is one of the gentlest yet strongest immune tonics in the herb world. Usnea is a lichen; a combination of an algae and a fungus growing together. Also known as Old Man's beard, it grows in little hair-like tufts, with the green algae covering the white string like fungus. The best way to identify Usnea is to pull a string apart and look for this white thread. However, since Usnea is nearly impossible to find in field guides and rarely in herb books, I recommend showing a sample to a knowledgeable person to confirm you've got the right plant.

17 July 2015

Laying on the Earth

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Women's Wellness

2015.5.2 core bio 2 med res croppedIn the midst of the freedom and fun of summer, we also can find ourselves overwhelmed with all the fullness! One of my favorite “remedies” this time of year, is simply, to lay on the Earth.
As children, we were naturally drawn to run barefoot --to lie in the sweet summer grass, to play amid the autumn leaves, to sit on the ground. As we reclaim that joy, we actually plug in to the vast, free body of healing energy, of the Earth herself.

A large body of research has now verified what ancient people knew about “earthing”—lying on the Earth for guidance and comfort. Even just a few minutes a day of simply lying quietly in the park, in your yard or garden or in the woods benefits physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

12 July 2015

Magical Medicinal Herbal Coffee

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Nourishing Foods

chicory.dandySeveral years ago I was told that coffee has a negative effect on the delicate kidney and adrenal systems. Knowing that this is a major area of support for sexual energy and Qi (life-force energy), I knew that I needed to take immediate action towards better care of this crucial component of my life and body.

I found a basic recipe for an herbal coffee substitute, played around with some roots from my yard, added a little local honey and dark chocolate, and came up with a magic decoction that is not only not harmful but acts as a powerful tonic for the liver, kidneys and heart while building the blood and Qi.

Add a little cream and you have a delicious latte. I hope you enjoy it!

07 July 2015

Garlic Elixir

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Nourishing Foods

“Garlic and vinegar have been prized for thousands of years for their amazing healing powers. Alone or in combination, these foods are powerful medicine.”

So starts the first chapter of Garlic and Vinegar: Nature’s Healing Twins by Julia Charles. One of our favorite remedies is our Garlic Elixir, a tangy, pungent, yet slightly sweet combination of garlic, apple cider vinegar and honey; a delicious way to nourish and stimulate your immune system. It’s best to buy garlic and honey from local farms to make this tonic for sore throats, sinus congestion, colds and winter blues.

Since the garlic harvest season is fast approaching we’d like to share our Garlic Elixir recipe with you. As you stroll through your local farmer’s market this summer, keep an eye out for garlic and honey to brew up some zesty Garlic Elixir.

alliumsativumsmallGarlic Elixir Recipe
Makes: 1 quart; for smaller batch use same ratio
Prep time: 30 min + 6 weeks brewing time

10 oz Garlic
16 oz Apple Cider Vinegar (or other)
5 oz Honey

02 July 2015

Herbs: Fast-acting or Tonic?

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Herbs are used in two distinct ways. One is in acute situations, providing relief for things like an upset tummy or menstrual cramps. The other is to nourish and regulate organs and systems, revitalizing the body's own ability to maintain overall good health.

plantain 1 600 x 405The first way is fast. The second often takes time. A robust herbal medicine chest contains both types of herbal remedies. Herbs like yarrow, skullcap, plantain, wild lettuce, motherwort, and lemon balm are usually used for acute situations. It is best to take them immediately at the on-set of the issue and at regular intervals to have the most desired effect.

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