There is a tremendous amount of information available on the Internet and in books exploring different aspects of issues raised in the film.
Our goal in creating this resource guide is to make it easy for viewers to act, now while the film is still fresh in your mind - not re-create the wheel! We hope these handouts and questions will get you started and inspire you to seek out the herbalists and teachers in your communities.
The most important take home message from Numen is, as Bill Mitchell and Rosemary Gladstar and so many others in the film say, to step outside, spend time in your garden, in the woods, in the meadow outside of town. Be grateful and open your heart to the mystery that is around us all, each moment.
This resource guide has been compiled with the help of two amazing community herbalists, health educators and medicine makers, Dana Woodruff of Dandelioness Herbals and ManaCulture Menstrual Gear and Sandra Lory of Mandala Botanicals, both of whom generously shared the educational resources they have put together for their students. With deep gratitude for the good work they are doing for the plants and for us all.
In this fast paced culture of quick fixes, herbal remedies are being marketed in highly concentrated, standardized pills and liquids, as replacements for pharmaceuticals.
Making your own herbal remedies from the whole plant is simple and for the same price as a store-bought preparation, you could make enough for you and many more.
Also, by preparing herbal remedies for yourself and your circle of friends/family you are continuing a long history stretching back through your ancestry, since all cultures have long traditions of using herbs for food and medicine. You are taking your health and healing into your own hands and encouraging self- and community-sufficiency, which is incredibly empowering.
Also, when you make remedies by hand, you are infusing it with your love and intention, which will make good, strong medicine.
Seed and Plant Nursery Catalogs are the best 'books on gardening'! Request catalogs from companies that specialize in local and hardy plants (we are zone 2-4 in VT). High mowing, Horizon herbs, Fedco, St. Lawrence Nursery, Johnny's, Seeds of Change. Local Heirloom seeds are special because they have been handed down for generations and are adapted to the local growing season and climate. There is an abundance of germinating, planting, growing, harvesting, storage and seed saving tips to be found in seed and plant nursery catalogs.
Plants are affected by the moon and seasons, changing throughout the month, as well as throughout the year. Plants have different qualities according to the phase of the moon. Like the pulling of the ocean tides, the energy of the plant shifts, affected by the lunar cycle. The full moon is the optimum time to harvest aboveground parts (leaf, flower, stem, and bark) and the new moon is the time for harvesting the roots. In general, the aboveground parts of plants are best harvested in the spring and summer, before or during flowering. Roots are best harvested early in spring or late in the fall, when the plants' energy is down in its roots. The ideal time of day for harvesting is after the morning dew has evaporated, and before the full strength of the sun has potentially wilted the plant in late afternoon. The best harvesting weather is a clear, sunny day, since rain can wash away some of the very constituents you're hoping to gather. When harvesting, you want to be sure to take only what you need from each plant.
When gathering leaves, flowers, stems, and bark, you want to take the most vital parts of the plants. If a leaf is chewed up by insects, leave that one and find ones that look healthy. One way to harvest is to pinch off the new growth -the top leaves and flowers or buds - which stimulates the plant's growth. Another way is to harvest the entire stem, cutting it close to the ground or just the top few inches. Having a good knife helps you to harvest the parts that you want, and to not harm the plant by pulling or tearing. Roots are potent medicine and should be harvested with respect since the plant must be killed for its root to be gathered. When we harvest roots in the fall, the plant has time to flower and go to seed. This ensures more plants for the future. Some slower-growing roots can be gathered, and its new growth or buds can be replanted after you've harvested what you need.
When harvesting roots, you want to loosen the earth around the plant with a shovel or trowel, so that you can lift the whole root system out gently. Some plants with taproots are difficult to harvest whole because they are so rooted that they usually break before letting go of their hold, such as Burdock. Once you've dug up the roots, remember to fill space back in with soil, leave-no-trace style.
Dried herbs should be stored in airtight containers, preferably glass jars. To help the dried herbs maintain their vitality, store them in a dry area away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Be sure to label your jars and bags! Really! Just do it! I know every harvest is so special that we'll never forget it, but you'll be so happy when you don't have to make a 'what is this?!' pile of herbs. Many herb books will tell you to use your dried herbs within 6 months or a year, and your dried roots within 3 years. However, I know an herbalist who comes from a long line of medicine makers who said she has herbs and roots that are many years old and still good medicine. Use your judgment and your senses (sight, smell, taste) to decide whether an herb or root still possesses its vital essence.
Infusions or Tisanes extract medicinal properties from the leaf, flower, certain seeds, and a few roots that are high in volatile oils (such as valerian). Fresh herbs can be chopped, torn, or bruised. Dried herbs can be broken up or rubbed between your palms. This helps to break down the plants' cell walls to release more of their medicinal properties, including the oils that give herbs their scent and taste. Place the herb(s) into a vessel such as a cup, teapot, or mason jar, and then fill with hot water. Cover the container to maintain the tea's medicinal qualities that may otherwise escape with the steam.
Decoctions extract medicinal properties from the roots, bark, medicinal mushrooms, and hardy seeds. We have to work a bit harder to get to the medicines of these plant parts, by boiling and chopping/grating/grinding, too, if possible. Chop or grate fresh parts (if whole, break up or grind dried parts) into a glass, enamel, or stainless steel pot, and cover with cool water. Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce the flame and simmer for 20-45 minutes, covered. If possible, let the herb soak for a few hours or overnight, before decocting the herb in order to extract the most properties possible.
Solar infusions draw out the medicinal/energetic properties of herbs with the sun. Pour fresh water over your herbs and set out in the sun for a few hours, with or without a lid.
Lunar infusions draw out the medicinal/energetic properties of herbs with the moon. Place herbs into a glass bowl or jar of fresh water and set out in the moonlight, uncovered.
When making an infusion or decoction, choose containers (mugs, kettles, teapots, French presses) made of glass, stainless steel, or enamel. Other materials (aluminum, plastic) may react with the herbs or leach harmful chemicals into your brew.
Herbal infusions can be steeped for any length of time, from just a few minutes to all night long. Some herbs, such as chamomile, become bitter if left to steep more than a few minutes. Other herbs such as nettles and oats become more mineral-rich (and better-tasting, I believe), the longer they steep. I prefer to steep my nutritive herbs such as oats and nettles overnight in room-temperature or hot water. It's a nice bedtime ritual to prepare the next day's blend and let it infuse as you sleep. When you wake, it's ready for you to just warm and drink.
At any point in your tea-making process you can take time to breathe, unwind, and focus on the changes you'd like to welcome into your life. As the photos in The Hidden Messages in Water show, water physically responds to energy. The waters that we take into our bodies, swim and bathe in, and contain in our bodies can carry negative messages that we've received and replay inside ourselves, or we can infuse our teas, baths, and self with new messages of gratitude, love, and growth.
Since the water has been evaporated out of dried herbs, their medicinal properties are more concentrated than fresh herbs and less is needed. These measurements are only a guide. There are herbs that you may want to use by the handful or pinch. If in doubt, just look them up in a good herb book!
Dried herbs : 1 tablespoon per cup or 4-6 tablespoons (1/4+cup) per quart
Fresh herbs : 2 tablespoons per cup or 8-12 tablespoons (1/2 - 3/4 cup) per quart
Chronic conditions (i.e. muscle tension): 3-4 cups daily, one cup at a time, for several weeks
Acute conditions (i.e. headache, fever): 1/4 - 1/2 cup throughout the day, up to 3-4 cups
The longer you infuse or decoct the herbs, the stronger your tea will be. You can use the same herbs more than once, especially roots and barks. Each brewing will be less potent than the last, so you can add a bit of fresh herbs with the old, if you'd like.
by Dana L Woodruff, Community herbalist, Health educator and Medicine maker, Dandelioness Herbals, Montpelier VT. © 2010
A salve is a blend of oil, herbs, and wax, used externally to soothe and protect the skin. Depending on the herbs you choose, you can make a heal-all salve for cuts, dry skin, burns, stings, and scrapes, or you can make ones for specific ailments such as bites, diaper rash, and fungus. There are many methods for making herbal salves. Here is one way:
Warm 1 cup of herb-infused oil in a double boiler or a pan over very low heat. Add 4 tablespoons of grated or chopped beeswax, stir, and let the wax slowly melt into the oil. Dip a spoon into the mixture and blow on it until it's solid or put in the freezer for a few minutes to cool quicker. If the salve is too hard, add more oil. If it's too soft, add more beeswax. Once you get it to the consistency you're seeking, remove from heat and pour it into dry, clean containers right away. If you wait too long, the salve will begin to harden in the pot. Either just before or just after you pour the salve into containers, you can mix in extra ingredients such as vitamin E oil or essential oils. Each essential oil (e.o.) is different, and each person is more or less sensitive to them than the next, but in general you can add 1-2 drops of e.o. per lip balm tube and 2 or 3 drops e.o. per ounce. If you choose to add them before pouring, give the liquid a stir so that the e.o. blends together with the other ingredients. Let the salves harden slowly, allowing them cool completely before moving them. Be sure to have plenty of extra jars because when the oil and wax warm and blend all together a magic alchemical reaction always seems to happen, somehow making more salve appear.
Most salves keep for about a year. They last longer if kept in a cool, dark place, rather than letting it melt and remelt in a hot car, for example. You can use an array of herbs, oils, waxes, and other ingredients. Lip balms are made as above, but usually with more beeswax, for a harder consistency.
Heal-All Salve with Calendula blossoms, Plantain leaf, and St. Johnswort flowers.
Anti-Fungal Salve with Calendula blossoms and Black walnut hull oils, and Tea tree essential oil.
Decongestant Salve with essential oils of Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Thyme, Rosemary, and/or Pine.
Mint Chocolate Lip Balm with cocoa butter & essential oil of peppermint.
Lip Gloss with oil infused with alkanet root, which gives a red color.
Immunity is the boundary of protection and integrity that interfaces your body and the larger world. Your immune system is your Ozone. Winter, the dark side of the year, is the time of the year for building and storing energy like a seed in the ground does in preparation for springtime's melting snow and sprouting green. Hibernation regenerates your strength and endurance.
Increase circulation and elimination with hot liquids while feeding your body healthful foods:
Herbalists Nancy Phillips, Kate Gilday, Josephine Spilka, Atmo Abram, Amy Goodman, Annie Wattles, Guido Mase, Ms. Beatrice Waight, Rocio Alarcon, Hadar Sarit, Rosemary Gladstar.
The Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice, Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz, The Complete Floral Healer by Anne McIntyre.
There is much more to be found on the Numen website. The complete guide can be downloaded via the PDF on the left, or viewed on the web via the website link below.