Monday, June 8, 2015

Herbalism School, the beginning of a lifelong journey

Fire Cider, the first herbal medicine I learned to make at Twin Star.
Once again I must apologize for my absence in posting on my blog. Of coarse I come with excuses of being too busy. But in all honesty I have been. With working, writing, traveling, hooping, DJing, dreamcatcher making I have had a lot going on. But one part of my life that is new that I haven’t shared on here yet is starting Herbalism School.
This past March I started Foundations of Herbalism a beginner’s 8-month course to learning about herbs and herbal medicine. I am taking the classes through Twin Star Connecticut’s School of Herbal Studies in New Milford, CT. I have wanted to take this program for a year but was hesitant due to the time and financial commitment. Now two months into classes I am so incredibly grateful for this experience.

Stinging Nettle a powerful diuretic and astringent herb.
Plants have always fascinated me. I am an earth sign Virgo and have always been connected to nature. I grew up on Clover Farm now called Saddle Ridge Farm spending my childhoods running through fields of Clover Flowers and Queens Anne’s Lace. I have volunteered and worked on farms learning about planting, harvesting and weeding vegetables. Three summers ago I started a tepee garden that was filled with herbs growing around the circle of the tepee. My mother has always been enthusiastic about natural health and healing. It’s no coincidence that my life brought me to this path of learning about the language of the plants.

Herbalism or Herbology is the use of plants for medicinal purposes. Although the practice of herbalism dates back to 60,000 years ago, today herbalism is scene as an alternative to modern medicine. Herbalism’s history runs deep in Native American, Greek, Egyptian and Chinese culture. Currently Asian and African countries still use herbal medicine for 80 percent of their primary health care according to the World Health Organization. In America the FDA regulates herbal remedies as dietary supplement. Herbalists can’t make any medical claims that herbalism is scientifically proven. Through Twin Star I have learned that although the plants for centuries have proven to be effective. As a society we have shunned away from the herbs and have been driven to believe by the pharmaceutical businesses that pills can fix are aliments.
Bloodroot Flower, native to Connecticut its root is blood red.

This course has taught me that plants can help us tremendously with life’s health bumps. Modern western medicine is great for urgent care. If you get into a car accident go to the hospital. But in terms of the smaller day-to-day issues herbs can be very useful. Whether it be a winter cold, headache, chronic pain or depression there are a variety of herbs that can be of aid to us. As American Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar states in her book Herbal Recipes, its is not about getting sick and fixing the sickness its about living a life to your healthiest potential so you don’t end up sick at all.
Making herbal oils with my classmates                     

 Lupo reads from a flower identification book. 
My herbalism teacher Lupo Passero is incredibly knowledgeable about Herbalism. She is a clinical Herbalist and Flower Essence practitioner and educator. The course is broken up so that not only are we learning about herbs but also energy work, biology and medicine making. Every month we focus on a different chakra starting with the root chakra and making our way up to the crown. During the first class we each had to pick a card blindly that had an herb on it that would be our plant ally. The herb we choose would be the herb we had to focus on throughout the course and do a presentation on at the end of the 8 months. I picked Yarrow. A plant that at first I knew little about. But I have learned that Yarrow is a powerful herb that can even stop the flow of blood from a wound. I never realized it but I live around tons of Yarrow. It grows naturally around my family’s property and I have been seeing it everywhere lately. Its good to know my plant ally is always with me.
Yarrow in West Philadelphia

Mugwort smudges made by my friend Isabelle

I am looking forward to continuing on with this course. The process has been transformative. I feel more connected to nature than I ever have before. I look forward to sharing my herbalism experience here with you all. I already know that this is a journey that won’t just shape the next year of my life but will last a lifetime. 
Chamomile in West Philly

All Photos taken by Arvolyn Hill 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Photo Diary: Maine to Miami

In March I went on two trips with friends to very different places. In the beginning of the month I visited Rangeley, Maine with my boyfriend Blake and our two good friends Alex and Brendan. We stayed at my friend's grandparents house thats perched on lake Mooselookaguntic. It was still very much winter in Maine as the lake was completely frozen and snow covered allowing us to snow shoe on the lake. We spent our days cooking, adventuring, playing music and hoping to see a Moose.
By the end of the month I traveled to Miami, Florida with friend Naima. Opposite from Maine, Miami was hot and overflowing with green. We spent time swimming at South Beach, explored the historic Vizcaya Museum and Garden filled with 16 year olds on Quinceanera photoshoots, hiked the Tree Tops National Park thats filled with airplants and hoped we would see a alligator. Unfortunately I saw no Moose or Alligator in March during my travels, probably for the best. However I did explore new places with some of my favorite people and eat lots of delicious foods, what else could you ask for on vacation. Below are some of my favorite shots from my trips!


All Photos by Arvolyn Hill unless I am in the photo for example above photo by Naima Green.