Program 102: Health and Healing

Judy Bluehorse Skelton

Judy Bluehorse Skelton

The Fall of the Four Seasons

with Judy Bluehorse Skelton

Arlie Neskahi:

I’m Arlie Neskahi. You’re listening to Wisdom of the Elders.

Life is interwoven with the circular rhythms of nature for the plant people as for all of us. For herbalist and educator Judy Bluehorse Skelton, it’s not only which plants you choose, but when. Today, Judy focuses on the season of renewal and gets down to a little spring-cleaning.

Judy Bluehorse Skelton:
Living life following the seasons is one of the first steps to creating good health, to creating well- being, not only for yourself, but for your family and your entire community.

Spring comes. We’re inspired to spend more time outdoors. We’re drawn outside to the sunshine. The plants are beginning to awaken. We awaken. And it’s the time when our dreams start to give, we give birth to our dreams.

Braided squash, Wichita, Edward S. Curtis. Photo courtesy of The Curtis Collection.

Braided squash, Wichita, Edward S. Curtis. Photo courtesy of The Curtis Collection.

Spring is the time of birth, regeneration, enlightenment, new beginnings. The time of day is dawn, the sunrise. Spring is a time when we awake from the winter to manifest the dreams that we had during the wintertime. The direction is the east. We face the east when we arise. We feel the sun touch our forehead, touch our chest, purifying, awakening us to a new day, to the gifts we are going to share that day. Spring – shoots coming up from the earth, the plants coming alive – awakening

Music:
Burning Sky
Wind
Creation
Canyon Records

As we move into spring, we start to get our longer days. That’s also a good time to lighten the diet. Traditionally, we would do some detoxification, purification with the diet. There are herbs that can be taken to help this process. There’s a whole family of herbs called purgatives which help to purge – anything from parasites, or toxins, or heavy foods out of our system and prepare us for the lighter days, the more activity of coming into spring and then summer.

The plant world is springing up everywhere. Fresh shoots are coming up out of the ground, sprouting. These fresh greens, many of them can be used to help detox. I like to use cleavers. The Latin name is Gallium. And cleavers are another one of those “weeds” that my neighbors, when they look at my garden, ask “Are you going to leave that there? I usually pull that out right away!” And I go “Oh, no. Yeah, I’m going to leave that there.” And it’s interesting, over the years, as they’ve come to understand it’s a great spring tonic, they’re leaving theirs in their gardens, too. And they’re not using pesticides, either.

Coast Pomo gathering seeds, Edward S. Curtis. Photo courtesy of The Curtis Collection.

Coast Pomo gathering seeds, Edward S. Curtis. Photo courtesy of The Curtis Collection.

They’re cultivating these wonderful little gifts of spring that help move the lymph system, clean the lymph. Unlike the blood, which is circulating around quite rapidly, the lymph is moving very slowly. And so it needs help to clear itself, and to clean toxins out. And cleavers are a specific for this.

Music:
Burning Sky
Wind
Creation
Canyon Records

So I like to take cleavers, fresh. Of course, you’re going to have to find someone to show you how to identify them. And I like to put them in the blender with huckleberries, or blueberries or any berries that I’ve got frozen from last summer, and I add a little cherry juice, or apple juice and make a – I call it my “spring detox” and it’s a great little beverage you can fix. I’ll drink it for a week or two in the early spring.

What I have suggested to people who are just too busy is you can gather your fresh cleavers, and you can put them in the blender and with a little water, make a slurry, and then pour them into ice cube trays and freeze them. Cleavers is one of the herbs that when it’s dried, loses a lot of it’s medicinal properties. And so it’s one I like to use fresh.

Music:
Burning Sky
Wind
Creation
Canyon Records

And so the plants follow this cycle. In gathering plants, you can follow the medicine of the plants with the seasons. Early spring, the energy is in the shoots, the greens. So if you’re gathering, that’s where the medicine will be. That’s where the energy’s moving. Flowers in the summer, and in the fall, some seeds, the fruits, as they come into full bearing, is the time to gather them. When the energy starts to move back into the root if you’re gathering energy or medicine, if you’re gathering plants for root medicine – you might be digging roots in late fall, or, some do that in early spring.

Depending on the plant, depending on the person, depending on the land where you are, the plants will let you know. The medicine moves through the plant as it moves through the seasons. Root medicine in the winter, fresh greens, leaves in the spring, flowers in the summer, fruits and seeds, nuts, in the fall. And so all things follow this, this cycle, this rhythm – this circle.

Music:
Burning Sky
Wind
Creation
Canyon Records

With each breath, with each step, in every moment, may you all be well, eat well, be joyful and create beauty wherever you go. Osadadu.

Neskahi:
Educator and herbalist Judy Bluehorse Skelton practices and teaches her craft in order that our relationship to the plant people will carry through the generations.