Summer Solstice Update: the FIRE Issue

Happy Summer Solstice Plant Lovers!This is Garliq at the Urban Herb School writing to say Welcome Summer to (and with) all of you!  Happy Summer Solstice & National Aboriginal Day!I found out recently that the human eye can see more shades of GREEN than any other colour in the spectrum. Here in Vancouver, we've adapted to specialize in the GREY end of the spectrum :P It has been a cold and wet Spring and I'm delighted to see the Sun consistently out bringing smiles and warmth.The Chinese 5 Element Theory tell us that this is the Season of Fire. And while most of us don't require any ancient wisdom texts to point that out to us, I thought I'd share a little about how this affects our health.Before I get to that though, here's what's in this very full Solstice Update... (including 2 free workshops!)

  1. FIRE: the source of Digestion and Community
  2. the Midsummer Fete – Celebrate the start of Summer - Sun. June 26
  3. Living Medicine Garden Party – Get your hands dirty - Sun. June 26
  4. Monthly Wild Food Potluck Dinner– Creating Community One bite at a Time! Sun. June 26
  5. FireMaker Gathering & Community – July 4-10
  6. Gathering Tips for St. Jean Baptiste & Cuddle Tips for Parents
  7. Wild Foraging Workshop – Going Bananas for Plantain! - Sat. June 25
  8. Lemon balm Sun Tea - My Favourite Recipe


1. Fire the source of Digestion and Community

Fire is the element responsible for Connection, Community, Transformation, Sexuality and Pleasure. It's such an important Element that it has 4 (rather than the usual 2) meridians (official functions). Rather than try to paraphrase, allow me to share a quote from Eliot Cowan...

Community is not just about people who live close together and have a common agenda, but people who have heart connection with each other.

Fire is a need, not a frill; we can die of coldness. Life for our people has become very cold. We don’t spend a lot of time enjoying each other’s company – dancing, playing, etc. together. We don’t have time for these things. There is a lack of warmth in our lives and it’s getting worse. We’ve replaced it with coldness, individuality, mentalness, and work ethic.”

I offer this with a smiling encouragement to take time to play this season. Laughing with friends and loved ones has deep healing for our hearts and our nervous systems.The Small Intestines are also controlled by our internal Fires. Fire's flavour is bitterness (also considered hot & spicy or “scorched”). The SI is also the gatekeeper of what passes into you and what doesn’t. It discriminates the pure from the impure and then transforms the pure into our body, mind and spirit. The impure is sent to other Officials to be eliminated.So, if you'd like to connect your internal Fires with the Summer, it can help to eat more bitter foods in your diet. This physically aids digestion, but more it can help you let go of those things you've been holding onto that don't really serve or nourish your body-mind-spirit.Now is a great time to for Digestive Tonics! 2. the Midsummer Fete – Celebrate the start of Summer - Sun. June 26I'm really excited to say that the Urban Herb School will be participating in this Eco-Art Celebration again this year! I'll have a table with info about classes and such, but more fun than that. I'll be doing 2 FREE workshops: a Plant Walk and a Basics in Salve Making.Here's the info...If anyone knows how to throw a party, Mother Nature does.A Celebration of Art and EnvironmentPUBLIC DREAMS and METRO VANCOUVER INVITE YOU TO CELEBRATE NATURE!June 26th1-5pm at Colony Farm in CoquitlamFREE event & FREE shuttle bus from Lougheed Sky TrainPublic Dreams and Metro Vancouver are inviting families across the Region to our free eco-art event, A Midsummer Fête. It’s an afternoon for families to get out of the city, spend time with each other and celebrate Nature and all her gifts.For more info check out their Facebook page ... here

3. Living Medicine Garden Party – Get your hands dirty - Sun. June 26

You may have noticed from past emails or blog posts, that the Living Medicine Gardens are alive and thriving for now the 4th year. Yay!!We've got 50+ varieties of medicinal plants growing in East Vancouver as part of the Grandview Community Gardens at 5th Ave & Woodland.We're working up to regularly scheduled Work Parties, but for right now you need to be on the Volunteer list to get all the Dirt on the Gardens activities.We're looking for volunteers to come out and help either during Work Parties or various other times.To volunteer please email us at ... Gardens@LivingMedicineProject.caThis Work Party will be ...Sunday June 26th 10am – 1 (or 2)pmPlease email us to let us know you're coming or to get on the Volunteer List for other (less widely promoted) volunteer opportunities.We need help with tasks such as... watering, repairing boxes, planting seeds, creating plant labels, and very seldom “weeding” but sometimes, just a little.

4. our Monthly Wild Food Potluck Dinner– also Sun. June 26

Creating Community One bite at a Time!Also happening nextSunday June 266-9pm@ the Levellers Coop in East VanAll are invited! And the guidelines are simple...Bring a dish to feed at least 6 people that contains AT LEAST ONE Wild Food.Have a clearly written Label with Ingredients --> clearly mark foods that have dairy, eggs, meat, honey so that everyone knows what is in each dish.Re-integrating, Remembering and Revering Wild Foods.Join us as we gather for a 3rd time to share our wild food discoveries and delights!These links were also sent out in May's invitation, but nobody took on the task of writing a report on the 2nd Feast, so here again are 3 links about our Wild Food Potlucks...

5. FireMaker Gathering & Community – July 4-10

This is a truly Fantastic event!!  Our family went last year for the first time and it immediately became part of our summer priorities. The organizers describe this event as a Primitive Skills Gathering and Community. It is the most intergenerational community that I've ever found. It's a week of really fun, outdoor activities and play all around the theme of Earth Skills.The Living Medicine Project (the umbrella org for the Urban Herb School) will be there offering a free herbal clinic and offering some workshops. But there's a plethora of skilled and heart-centred people teaching and offering a variety of skills (and friendship).It runs July 4-10 and this year is in the Courtney Area on Vancouver Island.Check out their

6. Gathering Tips for St. Jean Baptiste & Cuddle Tips for Parents

For those who know me and my approach to gathering herbs, you know that I'm rather...hmm...practical about it.I've often answered the question “when's the best time to gather herbs?” with some version of “whenever you're able to!” A large part of my work is to demystify the practice of herbal medicine so that more people are using plant medicines. But don't worry, I've found that using herbs does plenty to re-mystify them ;)All that said, St. John's Wort (or St. Joan's Wort if you're a Susun Weed fan), Hypericum perforatum, is said to be at it's most powerful on St. Jean Baptiste, or St. John's Day, June 24.St. John's Wort is a Wonderful medicine to have in your home first aid kit!It is a very potent antiseptic and is my “go to” for treating scrapes and cuts.But that doesn't really explain it's relationship with St. John. Well, to be honest, I can't explain that either. I'm not catholic and don't know anything about either St. John or St. Jean Baptiste.But I can say that this plant, with it's gorgeous yellow flower has a strong relationship with the Sun and with Fire.It's a mindbogglingly powerful remedy for burns of all sorts. It helps reduce swelling, eliminates pain and itchiness, and even helps with the emotional aspects of traumas from injury.I LOVE it for treating Sunburns!! I used it topically as an infused oil with repeatedly staggering results.For example, my 5 year old son just couldn't (and wouldn't) keep his shirt on when we had one of our first really sunny days about 2 weeks ago. When he got home that night, his back practically glowed in the dark! And it radiated heat 3-4 inches from his back.I offered to give him a “massage” with my “magic oil” and lathered his back, neck and shoulders with my St. John's Wort oil. (hey parents, this is a great way to get more touch with your older kids who sometimes resist it! But don't tell them I told you)The next morning he awoke, after a restful sleep, with a deep brown tan and No Sign of redness or burn.To find St. John's Wort, go to hot and dry places. Check out Macdonald Beach dog park in Richmond, if you can't find it anywhere else.When gathering please gather only what you need and make sure you leave a strong, healthy patch. This ensures that the plant can do it's work in that ecosystem and be medicine for others.Oh, and if you can't do it on June 24th, don't worry about it. It'll be around for weeks. It loves the Sun!!7. Wild Foraging Workshop – Going Bananas for Plantain! - Sat. June 25Next Sat. June 25 from 2-6pm we'll be out Foraging and Medicine Making with Plantain. It'll be lots of fun and everyone will learn lots about this wonderful, inconspicuous medicine.Check out the website for more details...www.urbanherbschool.ca8. Lemon balm Sun Tea - My Favourite RecipeAlright, this has turned into quite a lengthy email. For those that've made it this far, I hope it's been useful and informative :)Here's my little thank you for taking the time to read it all through...Lemon balm Sun Tea...This is a great 'iced tea' for hot days because it's refreshing and cooling. It's a fun way to have the heating energy of the Sun create a cooling medicine for the body.Hey Parents, this is particularly great for your kids after a long afternoon playing in the Sun because Lemon balm has a great 'happy making' or mood enhancing effect.

  1. Take a good handful of dried Lemon balm leaves or 2 good ones of fresh leaves
  2. crush or cut up the leaves and put them into an oversized tea bag or square of cheesecloth
  3. tie a string on the end (secure your cheesecloth square) and put it into a gallon jar (empty apple cider ones work great, but it takes some doing to squeeze them through the hole).
  4. Slowly fill the jar with cool or warm water (no need to boil) until full, running the water through/over the tea bag
  5. if you're using a cider jar, adjust the length of the string so that the bag is sitting just a bit higher than the middle – roughly where the jar starts to curve
  6. then set it in the Sunshine – for a couple of hours if it's hot or over night if that's easier (i call this “Moon Tea”)
  7. You'll know it's steeped when it's got a nice golden or amber colour. Take out the tea bag and serve.
  8. Some people like to add a bit of sweetener or a squeeze of lemon juice, but i love it plain.

Note: I hope that's not too confusing. Once you do it, you'll find it's quite simple. And the advantage of the cider jar is that it creates a 'convection' current in the jar. You can actually watch the tea steep out of the bag once it starts flowing.Here's a link from Simple Recipes ... click here So that's it for this Solstice Update.  I look forward to seeing y'all out and about, enjoying FIRE and Sharing Community!strength & wisdom.garliq