Weeds at Our Feet: What Do They Mean?

Weeds at Our Feet: What Do They Mean?

Living in the Wise Woman Way

In my heart, the practice of the Wise Woman Tradition is an ancestral medicine way that passes down from generation to generation even in our subconscious. We may step away from these hands-on skills for multiple generations, but they never really leave us. Harvesting juicy violet leaves, nibbling on early-spring chickweed, pawing through dense clay for potassium-rich dandelion roots - these rituals are built into our cellular memory. They are our birthright and biological imperative.

Our ancestors used what they could reach or what grew right outside their back door. So do/did the granny and grandpa healers who are still alive today. Who had time, resources, or the ability to buy from afar or transport goods along great distances? Exotic Amazonian (as in the jungle, not the retail mogul) antioxidant-rich superfoods were accessible only to those who lived in the Amazon. The name of the game out of necessity was “hyperlocal", and not because it was a buzzword, but because it was life. 

Violet Flowers in a Hand

The substances we use as medicine shift from region to region and may even change among microclimates within one community. A homestead up in a shady holler might use broad-leaf plantain to pack a wound, while those near the sunny meadow down the way might use the lance-leaved variety of the same plant. There is a magic simplicity in knowing the weeds or wild plants which grow closest to your home and touch your bare feet. Gathering abundant medicinal species and making them into tinctures, oils, dried herbs, vinegars, and salves for your own personal apothecary or herbal first aid kit can be done even with scarce monetary resources, as long as the intention, solid identification skills, and willing desire is present. 

Medicine Making in the Wise Woman Tradition

Most important for the home medicine maker is some familiarity with botany, a good field guide, and pure keen observation of when to harvest herbs and how to handle them quickly once harvested so that their peak medicinal potency is preserved. Key rhythmic elements of wise woman medicine making include harvesting leaves and flowers in the spring, collecting seeds in the late summer, and digging roots in the late fall or winter.

Straining nourishing herbal infusion

Harvesting according to the lunar cycle and clipping the aerial parts of plants during the full moon while saving underground roots for the dark of the moon/the new moon is another ritual practice that dates back many centuries. Both our ancestors and modern herbalists understand that they must get to know a plant intimately in order to come into relationship with it and to properly harvest plants at different seasons, therefore gleaning varying nutrients that manifest differently from seed to root and summer to winter.  The cycles of the plant-body, human-body, and earth-body align and the synergy of this collision makes for the best medicine. 

How Medicine Plants Find You

One impactful experience that I’ve had is the sudden and abundant appearance of a plant that is very needed in my life, or the life of a dear friend or family member. This shared story is quite common in the herbal community and often goes something like this: someone is having acute digestive issues and general tummy troubles - cue the dandelions suddenly surrounding the back patio of their home or favorite walking trail. Or a woman who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer encounters a large field of feisty pokeweed near their office or a popup circle of violets in a woodland glade they frequent.

This trend has been observed in the appearance of spiky teasel root in areas where lyme disease-carrying ticks are prevalent. Fascinatingly, teasel is a treasured anti-spirochete, a powerful antidote against the spirochete bacteria that propel lyme. For more on this phenomenon, see this article, "Can Plants Predict the Future?".

Mom and baby wildcrafting medicinal plants
Pokeroot and Yarrow
One specific plant that pops up all over North America, including the Carolina Piedmont where I grew up, and was used in Appalachian folk medicine is pokeweed (Phytolacca americana). The long-standing tradition of eating poke salat is a rich one. Even if you didn't grow up eating poke greens in spring like I did, you surely heeded the warnings of how poisonous this plant could be and were under strict orders not to the eat berries. But come springtime, carefully selecting the young light green leaves and boiling them in a full three changes of cooking water resulted in a dish which offered the whole family a good "cleaning out" after a long winter. Pokeweed is so powerful a medicine that the extract of its roots is administered in a drop dose, one to three drops at a time.

Poke root (phytolacca americana)

Another traditional southern folk medicine way to ingest poke is to swallow the ripe berries, which stain magenta in the wildest way and are often used as a natural dye. There is an immunity-optimizing spring cleanse protocol which involves swallowing one whole (fresh or frozen) poke berry on day one, two on day two, and so on, up until the tipping point where someone experiences symptoms associated with a strong cathartic dose of the herb (dizziness, nausea), and then stopping.
If I had to pick only two herbs to have in my herbal first aid kit and home apothecary, powerful poke would be my first choice. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) - for its styptic (blood-stopping) and anti-infective properties - is a close second. But faced with the impossible task of only choosing one, I'd have to regretfully say goodbye to yarrow and stick with poke; that’s how versatile a lymph and immune system-amplifying first aid plant it is, both internally in low doses and topically in an oil or salve. You can learn to make your own pokeweed salve or oil here.

Making herbal salves
Weeds as Medicine
We have begun to see dandelion greens for sale on the shelves of natural food stores, elderberry has become a mainstream staple for surviving seasonal immune threats, and medicinal mushrooms like reishi are taking their rightful place as adjunct therapy in complementary and "alternative" health clinics. I take heart in believing that the popularity of the medicine of the common, abundant, and hyperlocal plant will one day allow some of the more at-risk plants (see United Plant Savers, an incredibly big-hearted organization we choose to support and partner with, for a full updated list) to have a chance for survival, as people turn back to their indigenous roots and ‘eat the weeds’ again. May these plants that volunteer in your garden, city sidewalks, or patio pots find a special place in your heart and in your medicine cabinet.
For plants and people, 
Jeannie and Heather

Red Moon Rising

by Kate Reynolds

Corinna Wood seems the quintessential earth mother. Tall and strong with a strawberry-blonde mane, her smile is warm, genuine. There is something luminous about her, a soft glow that makes your shoulders relax, that makes you feel, well, safe. She engages one completely, listens carefully to questions and responds with a teacher’s gentle rhythms.

"The Wise Woman tradition is somewhat invisible," she explains. It tends to be preventative rather than heroic. As such, the teaching encourages nourishing the body by consuming plants, herbal teas and infusions with beneficial properties. By supporting and tonifying the digestive, immune and hormonal systems, the body is better able to heal itself when presented with health challenges such as infection, injury or stress. It is built on a trust in the body's innate wisdom.

Wood has traveled the Wise Woman path since developing a fascination with wild and medicinal plants in her late teens. A Connecticut native, she took a detour from the Ivy League track and followed her passion into forests and gardens, eventually finding her way to the Pacific Northwest and Evergreen State College, where she studied botany, biology, chemistry and nutrition.
Her academic degree provided the basis for a more profound practical learning experience with various renowned herbalists and authors. Wood studied with seminal figures in the field of alternative medicine, whose expertise in natural remedies and empowering perspective on women's health proved to be the inspiration that confirmed Wood's calling.

In 1994, Wood and fellow herbalist Jessica Godino founded Red Moon Herbs, an apothecary dedicated to creating high quality tinctures, salves and herbal blends which utilize local and wildcrafted (foraged) plant materials. Despite the current focus on rare, exotic and endangered herbs imported from the rain forests or the orient, Red Moon mainly harvests the common, abundant plants that have formed the basis of folk medicine for generations.

There are tremendous benefits to working with plants that grow where we live.

"They experience the same climate, physiologically and energetically, the same water, air and toxins," Wood says. "The plants that are thriving here are full of truth and beauty. They offer our bodies the ability to thrive in this bioregion as well."

The fields and woodlands of Western North Carolina are a virtual pharmacy for the astute forager, although most folks would consider many of the most powerful 'herbal allies' to be weeds. Among the all-stars: plantain, chickweed, dandelion, lamb's quarter and nettles.

Yes, nettles - the stinging kind that bring up welts on the shins of those unfortunates who wander into their midst. "Nettles are probably my all-time favorite," Wood notes. "They'll cure what ails ya. They're great for adrenals and kidneys, high in iron, support the hormonal and immune systems and help with hay fever."

In addition to their physical properties, plants possess certain energetic qualities. Living closely with them in their environment, the herbalist develops an intuitive sense when relating to the plants, a communication, if you will. This interaction helps the practitioner to perceive when a plant is at peak potency and invites its spirit into the medicines.

While the energetic aspects of the herbs are a key element, Red Moon's medicines are not homeopathic. "We don't make homeopathics or flower essences, both preparations that concentrate the energetic properties of the plant, but have very little of the physical left," Wood explains. Our approach is to have both and to honor the fact that sometimes, for example, the nettles’ iron is what's really needed to build the blood, along with the incredible healing energy that the plant can bring.

After the plant material has been reverently harvested it is immediately drenched with Greek olive oil or a combination of 50% organic alcohol and 50% spring water and set to steep for a full six weeks. Working with fresh herbs and allowing a long brewing period ensures that the extracts will be high potency when they are decanted with an herb press.

The staff at Red Moon then crafts remedies in many forms to address issues ranging from sore muscles to rashes, insomnia to sore throats and fever, and even offer an herbal First Aid Kit. They are particularly dedicated to nurturing women's health, however, creating kits designed to support the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause, along with a wide selection of individual products geared towards women's concerns.

This focus is integral to the Wise Woman tradition, and has a natural offshoot in Wood's role as a teacher of natural healing and fertility awareness. "Our mission," Wood says, "is to empower people to trust the wisdom and the cycles of the plants, the earth and their own bodies." She currently offers a wide selection of classes and workshops through the Earthaven Learning Center, an educational program of Earthaven Ecovillage.

Both Wood's family and Red Moon Herbs are housed at the Village Terraces, a cohousing neighborhood within Earthaven. At Earthaven, an Intentional Community on 325 acres of verdant mountain forest, some 60 hardy souls are creating "an evolving village-scale community dedicated to caring for people and the Earth." It is a vision that incorporates green building techniques, a low-impact, sustainable lifestyle, permacuture principles and a social philosophy of respect, responsibility and reverence.

In this atmosphere of mindful living, Red Moon and Wood's educational outreach are flourishing. This September, herbal luminaries will gather in Black Mountain for the first Southeast Women's Herbal Conference. "For many years other regions of the country have held these conferences," Wood notes, "so the time has come for our region to join in this powerful and vital tradition."

Scheduled to run from Friday, September 15 through Sunday, September 17, the conference program will focus on all phases of a woman's life and include topics of interest to both the experienced herbalist and the neophyte. "The conference is building momentum and there is an amazing amount of support from our broader community," says Wood. "I envision it becoming, over the years, a way of weaving women together and bringing a focus onto women's health with a very natural, nourishing approach."

A perfect time and place for searching out and embracing the Wise Woman within.

Originally published in Bold Life Magazine, July 2005
July 01, 2018 — Red Moon Herbs
Four Wise Women Who Are Changing the World of Medicine

Four Wise Women Who Are Changing the World of Medicine

We’d like to highlight four of the wisest women we know and share how they are doing their part to spread plant love and optimum nourishment of the body and spirit.

1. Phyllis Light

I first met Phyllis late at night when I made the six hour commute from my home near Asheville, North Carolina down to Arab, Alabama to the Appalachian Center for Natural Health. I thought I had really done it this time, completely lost my way with no cell service in the middle of somewhere Alabama to a school I’d committed to for at least a year and never before visited - and suddenly out of the darkness comes the light (Phyllis Light) who welcomed me with open arms into her world and the practice of Southern Folk Medicine - and I am so proud to have had her as my mentor and teacher for the past four years and my heroin for the rest of my life. 

Phyllis can be described as a national treasure. An herbal legend. She is most recently the author of Southern Folk Medicine: Healing Traditions from the Appalachian Fields and Forests, the first to describe the history, folklore, assessment methods, and remedies of Southern and Appalachian Folk Medicine—the only system of folk medicine, other than Native American, that developed in the United States. Phyllis’s own education began in her blood, then as a child on family ginseng hunts, and has continued to a MA degree in health studies from the University of Alabama. A fourth generation wildcrafter of Cherokee and Creek descent, her roots go down deep in the cultural heritage of the south but her branches are forever reaching into the latest science of today. 

Phyllis has been an herbal practitioner to many and varied populations for several decades and continues to maintain an active practice, while also directing the Appalachian Center for Natural Health and teaching everything from story medicine to nutrition to spiritual healing worldwide. 

Phyllis has shared with me some of the wildest and yet most down to earth case studies and folk tales I have ever heard. If everything has a use, Phyllis knows five uses for everything. Just ask her about eating Vick’s Vapo-rub. She once told me, “Growing up we did everything holistically, but we didn’t know we were holistic. We were just poor!" Phyllis has defined for me what it means to be resourceful and make herbal medicine truly accessible to all. Phyllis’s stories of her family of healers who would make house calls and bring no herbs but use whatever they found growing in the backyard have defined for me what it means to be truly bioregional. 

The woman who taught me to drink the cooking water from my broccoli and cauliflower and call it pot liquor, the woman who taught me to view everything in the world as either air, fire, water, or earth, and the woman who has the best kitchen junk drawer in the world - because it’s full of tiny little tops and ends of ginseng or ‘little man’ from decades ago. 

Phyllis is a mother of five, a grandmother of three, a healer of many, and an inspiration to us all. Find her at phyllisdlight.com.


2. Jody Noe

Jody NoeDr. Jody Noe is an all-round incredible woman and healer. Not only is she a naturopath (N.D.) who runs her own integrative medicine practice, but she is a traditional Cherokee herbal medicine woman who spent years in training with her Cherokee elders. She approaches the body with the traditional indigenous view that all things are sacred, and spirit is in all things, including our beloved herbs and stones.

Dr. Noe specializes in integrative oncology, and is the author of a well-researched tome on the subject, Textbook of Naturopathic Integrative Oncology. Her energetic work encompasses a vast range of healing tools that are both allopathic and homeopathic, including herbs, diet, lifestyle, and spiritual counseling.

Find Dr. Noe online at drjodyenoe.com.

3. Corinna Wood

Corinna WoodSteeped in the Wise Woman tradition, Corinna Wood is a voice for local foods and medicines which feed both body and soul. Rather than practicing with plant medicine that uses herbs from distant regions or traditions, Corinna’s attention as a community herbalist is on the weeds and wilds in our own backyards. She focuses on attuning women to the cycles of the earth, the plants, and the moon.


Holistic women’s education has been Corinna’s primary focus over recent years, and out of this effort she has led thousands of women from all paths of life into the green world of herbal medicine. Corinna shares her knowledge and her loving connection with mother nature by engaging women in the sphere of plant medicines each spring during her yearly immersions.

Corinna Wood has been practicing, teaching, and carrying on the Wise Woman Tradition for over 30 years. Corinna co-founded Red Moon Herbs in 1994 and made herbal medicines from fresh, local plants for 20 years until passing on the baton to Jeannie Dunn. Corinna is also renowned as the founder and director of the legendary Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference. With extensive training and experience in herbal medicine and spiritual psychology for women, Corinna now teaches earth-based tools for inner growth and healing. See Wise Woman Studies with Corinna Wood

A note from Corinna: “​​After many years of making and teaching herbal medicines for women’s health, it dawned on me that I needed my own medicine kit for the heart, mind and soul! I applied all I knew of the wise woman ways towards my own deep inner healing. I drew on my depth and breadth of knowledge––nature and her cycles, health and healing, nonviolent communication and feminist spiritual psychology. Now I support earth-based women with tools for inner growth and healing to ground you in your own innate wisdom, needs and desires. I'd love to support you along your journey ~ come connect!”

Corinna studied extensively with various world-renowned teachers  before launching Red Moon Herbs, which has consistently carried out its mission of providing safe, effective and abundant herbal remedies to the community for over twenty years. Corinna directed the late Southeast Wise Women’s Herbal Conference, which was one of the largest women’s herb gatherings in the US.

4. Rosemary Gladstar

Rosemary GladstarIf there’s one name that nearly everyone in the ‘herbie’ world knows, it’s probably that of Rosemary Gladstar. But not only is it a nice name to know (who doesn’t like rosemary, after all?), she herself is a wealth of inspiration and encouragement to all wise women who walk along the healer’s path. To list the accomplishments of someone like Rosemary is beyond our scope, but let’s just say the books of Rosemary Gladstar are to some a sort of “gateway” into herbal medicine.

Got a friend who wants to start making body care products for herself and her family, but doesn’t know anything about herbs? Give her Rosemary’s book. Have a buddy who gets indigestion after eating and wants to do something about it, naturally? Give them Rosemary’s book. Her writings are beautiful, easy to understand, and accessible, no matter your level of expertise.

Rosemary also acts as an advocate for the endangered and rare plants of the world. She is the founding energy behind United Plant Savers, an organization that raises awareness for and protects exotic species. Her work in this area has spurred a widespread movement towards using as many local and widely growing plants as possible, whenever we can.

Rosemary will be coming to speak to us in October at the Southeast Wise Women’s conference. As a headliner, she will be speaking on some of her favorite remedies and recipes with us, as well as sharing her thoughts on Preserving our Herbal Traditions.

An Interview With Kathleen Maier — Simple Solutions

by Lee Warren

Kathleen Maier is a much-loved teacher at the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference, year after year. We’re so happy to have her this year teaching an intensive, a class, and leading a ceremony. Here’s a bit about her, from her:


What is currently inspiring you as a healer/teacher?

Nervines! And any practices for staying in our body and staying centered. Right now in the world there is so much movement–exciting movement and challenging movement. I think we need to make centering practices part of our day and take them seriously.

Can you say  more about plants as allies in staying centered?

We’re all aware of the effects of stress. We all need help in creating tools. Because our hearts and bodies are one, plants can help shift our perception and states of consciousness. When we’re stressed we know we can take deep breaths but somehow or another the plants act quickly and effectively.

Simple things like milky oatsScutellaria and mimosa are very profound. Skullcap can help us stay clear, stay focused, and be much more solid in our bodies.

Nervines are the support we need right now for the fall of 2012.

You’re branching into creating ceremony at the conference this year. How is that for you?

Well, I’m a Scorpio and we love theater. And I don’t mean theater in a superficial or inauthentic way. It’s high performance art that we all get to participate in. For me, shamanism is not only deep and real but touches into the spirit world and into the theatrical world.

In my classes, it’s important that participants don’t  walk away with just information. But that they’ve shifted to another place of understanding. Or at least they’ve shifted to the place of asking the right question.

With the ceremony at the conference this year I look forward to being playful as well as creating a transformative celebration.

What is one message you’d like to give to all women who are seeking healing?

‘To thine own self be true.’ There are many ways, many formulas, and many plants.

Trust yourself.

Kathleen Maier, AHG, PA, has been a practicing herbalist for over twenty years. She is currently director of Sacred Plant Traditions in Charlottesville, VA which hosts a three year community herbalist training program as well as other classes and internationally known guest lecturers. Her training as a Physician’s Assistant allows her to translate the language of medicine and ground it in the wisdom of the age-old, earth-centered practices. She is very active with United Plant Savers.

September 27, 2012 — Red Moon Herbs

An Interview With Monica Corrado – Whole Foods Chef

September 21, 2012 — Red Moon Herbs

An Interview With Anyaa McAndrew – Shamanic Astrologer

by Lee Warren

Continuing in our theme of introducing you to some of the amazing teachers at the  Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference, here’s an interview with Anyaa McAndrew.

What are you currently excited about teaching?


I love creating spaces where women can connect in a WE Space or Sacred Space. As women we do the “Field of Unity Consciousness” so well!

I also love teaching topics where the I space can get strengthened, like when women discover the depth and breadth of “Who I Really Am” and “What my own place on the Wheel of Life is.”

It is my joy and challenge to inspire women to step into their own spiritual and personal authority in a dying patriarchal culture that is still fighting with the feminine.

I feel that we can make a big splash in our lives if we have a strong I, and a strong WE.

What theme do you see as you travel the country and work with women?

Women love to be together! 


Taking my Shamanic Priestess Process and other work around the country, I experience so much excitement when women come together to do personal~spiritual work.

Women naturally step onto a spiritual path when they are invited in a way that is inclusive, honors all ways and honors diversity of all kinds. I have always experienced woman as hungry for the work of the soul, and hungry for work that allows them to express themselves fully.

 How does Shamanic Astrology help women in their lives?

Shamanic Astrology honors the feminine in a way I have never experienced with other Astrological systems, probably because it honors the Goddess or the Divine Feminine within each of us through the archetypes we carry. It also recognizes that there are no bad archetypes or signs, and that shadow is natural for every archetype, which allows us to laugh at ourselves and see ourselves from a witness perspective. That alone allows us to change and grow with more grace and ease!

 Why is 2012 important for women?

Women are being called to step into what is being referred to as the “Solar Feminine,” which was heralded by Venus transiting the face of the Sun this past June.

As a Collective, we have been the quiet lunar feminine for way too long, pulled in and pulled back while we were encouraged and also forced to let the Patriarchy have its way with Gaia. Now it’s time to step up, stand up, and speak out, and nothing is stopping us.

If we don’t become authentically ourselves, it seems that something arises in our lives that confronts us to just do it, NOW. This is the year of all the prophecies of the indigenous peoples, it’s called the “Shifting of the Ages.”

We are far more influential than we may think we are! This is the keynote for us in 2012—no more time for hiding and playing it safe and comfortable.

I look forward to seeing you all at the Conference!

Anyaa McAndrew is a psychotherapist and teacher with 31 years experience in the sacred work of emotional, sexual, and spiritual healing. She’s facilitated The Shamanic Priestess Process ™, the Sexual Priestess Process™ and the Shamanic Magdalene Mysteries™ around the US and in Costa Rica, integrating a lifetime of therapeutic work with women. Anyaa is also a Master Shamanic Astrologer, Shamanic Breathwork Practitioner, Sacred Sexuality Educator, and Imago Couples Therapist.

September 13, 2012 — Red Moon Herbs

An Interview with Dr. Jody Noé, Ethnobotanist

by Lee Warren
At Red Moon Herbs and the SE Wise Women, we continue to gear up for the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference, on October 12-14, in Black Mountain.
This blog features another of our many amazing teachers. Jody (Dr. Noé) is a sister from the Northeast who spent many years studying ethnobotany and Cherokee medicine with elders in our region. Here’s a recently captured interview with her.
How do you blend such scientific/medical perspective as well as indigenous/folk perspectives in your work?
It is easy because it is me….
I started my journey with a psych nursing degree back in the late ’70s and then a rigourous premedical degree in 1985. I created the major myself, a Pre-Naturopathic Medicial degree, by taking the premed biology track and then adding extra credits.  This led to my Masters degree studies in botany and ethnobotany.
Thus I began my traditional training with the Cherokee elders.
I began the first year with Mamma Gene Jackson, Mary Ulmer Chiltoskey and the women of The Qualla boundary Cherokee in the Smoky Mountains in 1986. They in turn led me to my training with Crosslin F.Smith, High Priest of the Keetoowah, and now recognized as the Spiritual Leader of the Cherokee Nation.  I started in 1987 and have continued even to today, more than twenty five years later.
My medical training is from Bastyr University in Seattle Washington where I graduated with an ND.
It all had to blend together while I was learning at the same time from both sides of my brain and experiences.
What themes do you see as work with women and women’s health?
Women are the ones being called to come out–out unto themselves and their own innate power, which in turn is healing.
Once the Womyn, the Mothers, the Crones and Grannies, the Maidens and the Aunties take their own power and healing, we then can change the  world and the healing of change can begin.
I am excited to be a spark in this fire that is happening  to womyn all over the planet.
I call it the Grass Skirts Movement!
Briefly talk about your teachings on Cherokee Ethnobotany and why it is so popular?
I think these teachings are popular because it is empowering and self actualizing.  I often pass down some of my learned traditions in a multi-media style so that all learners can participate but the Cherokee Household Medicine at this upcoming conference will be without power points and slides. We’ll be outside and in circle with each other.
It seems that women all over the states are ready to understand and explore this healing power….the original spark!
Jody’s intensive is called Cherokee Household Medicine and will be offered at the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference next month. You must be registered for the entire conference weekend (over 70 teachers and more than 30 classes) and additionally registered for this intensive, in order to take part in her class.
Dr. Jody Noé is a licensed naturopathic physician in practice for over 17 years. She is currently an assistant professor for the University of Bridgeport’s College of Naturopathic Medicine, and the author of Naturopathic Integrative Oncology. Dr. Noé has a private practice in Westerly, Rhode Island, specializing in family medicine, cancer, and chronic disease. Dr. Noé is also educated as an Ethnobotanist, specifically in Cherokee medicine.
September 06, 2012 — Red Moon Herbs

An Interview With ALisa Starkweather – Defining Empowerment

As the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference draws near (mid October), we’re taking this opportunity to feature some of the amazing teachers. Sharing her wisdom and description of empowerment is ALisa Starkweather, a tireless proponent for women’s transformation. Here’s a recently captured interview with her.

You work with women all over the world; what one theme are you seeing these days?

What I am sensing among women right now is a surge of power that is rising like sap from the collective after thousands of years of oppression.

  • She senses this is our time and she has a role but in order to participate she cannot walk towards this destiny without shedding the lies and judgments that have kept her down.
  • Her visions are haunting her and because of these inner callings she is willing to bring her dreams forward even if she thinks she cannot or that she is crazy. She is becoming more daring with facing the unknown.
  • She is learning that she cannot control things but she can come more alive in her full participation with her choices. By doing this, she stops the stories where victim hood once left her helpless.

It is the time of great weaving because we are recognizing that our gifts are greater in collaboration. To do this however, a healing is needed where women must re-learn to trust not only themselves but one another.

What I see is true commitment by many in a time where we are so needed. Love is our ultimate power right now.

What is stopping women from living a more authentic and embodied life? 

I cannot speak for all women but I can share what I’ve learned in the last three decades of facilitating transformational women’s empowerment via the archetypal realms of initiation and women’s mysteries.

I am truly noticing a division now between women who are coming from the paradigm of continued blame and shame and right and wrong thinking versus women who are learning skills in communication, taking responsibility for their choices, their attitudes and their own consent to live life fully even with the risks.

I am seeing the difference between women who learn skills, who  bravely look within at their own shadows and shortcomings versus women who still project their judgments onto others without recognizing the same qualities are present within themselves.


To live authentically means we must find respect for our tenderest vulnerabilities and equal compassion for our inadequacies.  Can we be transparent with our honest feelings and motives?

I believe what stops many a woman is that she still carries a deep predator voice that takes her and others around her down. She fears her own ferocity and her wounds that misused power created–thus she is afraid to claim power for herself.

Wanting to be someone other than the inner critic (who can be relentless), she dulls her fierce self into complacency and then takes the consequence of having no voice or a voice that is not true to her intensity of presence.

She was actually born for greatness but she must face her own inner demons to find her pure brave heart that waits so patiently for her homecoming. When she does this, her embodied life will fit her like a glove. It will become so clear to her what she must give up or move toward. Women around me will do everything and anything to free up. When this happens, women are unstoppable.

In your words, please define empowerment?

I am so grateful to be asked this because for some reason this word got a bad rap out in the greater world. For some, empowerment work conjures visions of women who are helpless, even hopeless, don’t feel good about themselves and need assistance.  When I say that I do empowerment work in India, some immediately ask me if I am a social worker.

The beauty of being empowered for me takes on these forms.

  • To respect who you are all the way to your core and to know that you have the courage to be yourself.
  • To embody without shoving parts of yourself down in any cavity in your psyche or hiding unexpressed parts of you that still harbor shame or hesitation.
  • To know that you are at choice and can wield your voice, your gifts, your presence intentionally in service to the greater good by your own aliveness.
  • To no longer look at perfection or arriving to a particular status as proof of your strength.
  • To embrace the helpless, hopeless, don’t-feel-good parts of you right into the glorious stature of your sacred self who is both powerful and vulnerable, tender and fierce, afraid and courageous, active and still.

We have the capacity to matter and make a difference simply by living in harmony with life that moves through us. The empowered woman is far from any box that culture tried for millennium to put her in.

You know her because she is beautiful, committed, present, truthful and showing up in all she was born to be and you can feel her in your own bones when she shows up even by the way she walks upon the Mother Earth.

Empowered means that we are not going to lay down in despair when humanity is  at the brink but rather we are going to wake up, take our place in the web of life in a way that honors what is sacred.

For me, our empowered embodiment is visceral.

ALisa Starkweather, is a women’s transformational leader, well known for her inspirational message of empowerment, healing, community, and ritual.


August 29, 2012 — Jeannie Dunn

An Interview With Bevin Clare, Herbalist and Mom

by Lee Warren

Red Moon Herbs hosts the 8th annual Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference on October 12-14 in Black Mountain. Bevin Clare is a very special presenter. Here’s a short interview with her.

 What are you currently excited about teaching?

As the director of a clinical program I immensely enjoy watching students move from being students to being practitioners. Seeing them apply their learning and skills in such a way to evoke change in the people they meet is powerful.
How has becoming a mom changed your relationship to health and herbs?
Having children, people say, allows you to see things through their eyes. I learned about herbs as I was older but for my son, it is a way of life. The idea of gathering flowers or making medicine or drinking medicinal tea is part of the way people live and care for themselves. I see the simplicity of the system so much more readily and have developed a love all over again for the generosity of the natural world.
How do you approach seasonal foods and medicines?
The fun thing about living seasonally is that it brings together age old traditions with the fascinating new science of chronobiology. We are learning so much about how much our animal selves are tied to the rhythms of the natural world around us and with many of these understandings our traditional practices are reinforced. It’s a simple question of observing what is around you in the seasonal rhythm of nature and acting in unison with it as much as you can.
What’s your current favorite way to incorporate herbs into food?
Since it’s summer, it has to be fresh herbs. It’s so easy to make a crazy pesto out of just about any greens you have and to use it on, well, anything!
Bevin Clare, MS, RH(AHG) is a clincial herbalist, nutritionist, teacher, and Chair of the Herbal Division of the Master of Science in Herbal Medicine program at Tai Sophia Institute. She is also adjunct faculty at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and a guest researcher at the National Institutes of Health. She holds an MS in Infectious Disease from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Bevin serves on the board of directors of the United Plant Savers and the American Herbalists Guild.
August 16, 2012 — Red Moon Herbs

Aviva Romm, MD – Walking in Two Worlds

by Lee Warren

Red Moon Herbs is a proud sponsor of the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference. The Special Guest Speaker for the 8th annual event this year is Aviva Romm, MD, herbalist, midwife. Here’s a short interview with Aviva that we wanted to share with our readers.

What was your life like before you became an MD?

Aviva and her youngsters (who are now all grown).

I was a NYC ghetto girl, went to college at 15, dropped out at 16 to become an herbalist-midwife, all-out-mad hippie girl–dreads, fire by friction, the works! But a total geek too. Also, I spent 20 years as a home birth midwife and herbalist, homeschooling my young ones (until college for two of them, high school for the next two).

What inspired you to go to medical school?

All the while I wanted to make radical revolutionary change in health care, and to provide services outside of the scope that an illegal midwifery practice allowed. So before I got too old to lose my nerve I went back to school — Yale no less — and became an MD.

What will be the subject of your Guest Speech?

It’s called, “Walking in Two Worlds: From Midwife-Herbalist to MD.” This talk is about the journey, the reasons for it, and what I’ve learned, using the metaphor of the heroine’s journey. I hope it has lessons and meaning for listeners regarding how to relate to western medicine in a way that is safe and useful, and why and how to honor nature as our first healer from personal, ecological, evolutionary, social, political, and economic perspectives.



August 08, 2012 — Red Moon Herbs