HERBAL GUIDE

Marysia Miernowska

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Marysia Miernowska is an herbalist, witch, biodynamic gardener and Plant Spirit Medicine Practitioner rooted in the Wise Woman Tradition of Healing. She is the director of the California branch of The Gaia School of Healing and Earth Education where she holds ceremony & teaches herbal medicine, plant shamanism, regenerative farming practices, and Earth magick.

— RITUAL —

Do you have a personal ritual with medicinal plants/trees/fungi/the power of the natural word? How does this help to heal yourself and others?

The various rituals in my life have a common thread of weaving me into the body and consciousness of the Earth. Wether it is a simple ritual of drinking infusions of wild weeds on a regular basis, or the more elaborate celebrations of the cycles of the Great Wheel, they all expand my being so I can draw upon the wisdom, energy, remembering, and guidance of Gaia. My (mostly) daily ritual of drinking infusions of wild weeds has been a radically transformative and simple practice that Sage and I share with students at The Gaia School of Healing. The wild weeds are abundant and free; they grow all over the world, they heal the soil where it needs regeneration, and offer the same healing vitality to our earth bodies. Once we begin to eat the wild, the Spirits of the plants awaken a deep remembering inside, and we begin to realize that we are not just a part of nature -- we are nature. By expanding our "self" in this way, we embody the Earth healing herself -- instead of being a small little person with limited understanding, energy, and wisdom trying hard to save the planet. 

The rituals of drinking the wild, meditating with plants, tending to my relationship with Nature, celebrating her cycles and seasons of nature, connect me to the memory and the dreams of the Earth. In my own healing, the nourishing aspects of the wild weeds help keep my body nourished. My understanding of the cycles of death and rebirth allow me to midwife death in my own life, instead of clinging to some idea of what optimal health looks like. Being a student of the Great Mystery keeps me humble and teaches me to listen from the sacred center of my heart. 

— NOURISH —

What tonic herb has consistently supported your health and vitality. How do you prepare and consume it?

Ah! How difficult it is to sing the praise of just one Plant Ally! The plants that have supported my health and vitality, have also held my broken heart in times of sorrow, given me strength and endurance in the face of challenges, and have taught me so much about life and magick. They are my family, friends, teachers and guides. 

One of  my most beloved allies is Nettles. My Great grandmother in Poland first introduced me to her when I was a little girl, and this plant has been a gateway for me and many others into the green world. Stinging Nettles grows all over the world, she is wild and free -- untamed, full of vitality, deep nourishment, motherly love and strong boundaries. She is truly a gift from the Mother to us, her children. Just realizing that we have free "superfoods" growing abundantly all over the world teaches us to relax into receiving energy from the Earth. Rich in minerals, vitamins and enzymes, Nettles supports all of the organs, systems of the body, our heart and spirit, and floods us with deep green nourishment. When I drink her, I often feel like I am at the teet of the Great Earth Mother; often, when I introduce her to people, their bodies cannot get enough - they feel like a deep thirst for nourishment that they did not even know was there, is now being quenched. We truly become transformed when we begin to experience that much vitality and nourishment moving through us, as us -- and her stinging nature helps those who are always "giving" or taking care of others both receive the nourishment they need, and create better boundaries. 

I recommend preparing Nettles as an overnight cold infusion. Take a handful of dried herb, put it in a quart size jar, top off with spring water, and let it infuse overnight. In the morning, strain and drink as much as your body wants on an empty stomach, and then continue to drink the quart throughout the day. I highly recommend doing this for 30 days to experience the cumulative and transformative healing effects of Nettles. 

Now I must call in a few other beloved plant allies, and will limit myself to only 7 plants: Nettles, Schizandra, Kava, Holy Basil, Rose, Linden, Comfrey.

 — SPIRIT —

How do you gain access to the spirit realm of plants, was this something you worked to developed or inherently in you. If you feel called to share the plant that most helps with this portal of access we’d humbly love to know. 

The most direct method of connecting to the spirit realm of plants was taught to me by Sage Maurer, director of The Gaia School of Healing & Earth Education in Vermont. The plant meditations she guided us on have influenced the plant meditations that come through me as I guide students in connecting and learning directly from the Spirits of the Plants. 

In sacred space, we open our senses and guide ourselves into connecting physically and spiritually to the plant Spirits. I call in the Spirits of the plants and guide students to journey into their bodies, into the places where they are experiencing the unique alchemy of the plant spirit and their own spirit. In those places of connection and energy exchange, we communicate directly to the spirit of the plant, asking to receive medicine and messages on all levels of our consciousness. I also teach shamanic journeying and energy exchange & meditations with the plants and the Earth in the garden and wilderness.

The beautiful thing about accessing the spirit realm of the plants, is that it is available to all of us, no matter what our training is. Simply laying on the Earth next to a plant, grounding our energy until our heart feels open and nervous system feels relaxed, and sitting with the plant, touching it, smelling it, closing our eyes and listening -- we will begin to feel a shift in our body, psyche and heart and begin to notice the energy of the plant. From there, we may begin to ask questions, listen in the silence, share what is on our heart with the Spirit of the plant, and follow our intuition about how to exchange energy with the plant. 

— HEART —

What do you love about being an herbalist? How do you help others free their hearts through herbal medicine?

I love everything about being an herbalist! I love that doing this work means I am a student for life. I love learning & growing and the green path is one where there is always more to learn. I love that my teachers are the plants, the Earth and Spirit -- so there is an infinite well of wisdom and magick that I can humbly surrender into and can work to bring into the world through my body, words, actions, and life. I also love witnessing the magick that unfolds as those I work with open deeper into receiving nourishment from the Earth --  as students develop their own relationships with the plants and become empowered on their healing journeys. 

I love that this path is nonhierarchical and that by cultivating a direct relationship with source consciousness and the Earth, by default we begin to dismantle oppressive systems of power and hierarchy.  I love that the Wise Woman Tradition of Healing opens us to welcome in the full spectrum of the human experience ~ learning to find medicine in pain, beauty in grief, life in death, etc. 

Finally, I am grateful how relevant this work is in the Great Turning that is taking place on our planet. I believe we are living in a time that is pushing us all to be more expansive, compassionate, engaged and resilient -- to learn to sit with what is arising instead of distracting ourselves from the challenges of these times -- and  to learn to heal ourselves, the planet and the web of life. 

— BODY —

What is your favorite medicinal herb to incorporate into your food? How do you prepare it?

That is a difficult question to answer! To be perfectly honest, I do not spend a lot of time cooking these days, rather, I look for meals I can prepare quickly that give me as much nourishment and fat as possible. The medicinal herbs help me a lot in this regard -- some days I spend the whole day in the garden, away from a kitchen and stove and I need to be able to bring food with me that will not spoil in the hot Southern California weather. On days like that when I am snacking on "picnic food", the nourishing herb infusions help me make sure I am getting the nutrients, minerals, vitamins and enzymes that my body needs. I bring an overnight cold infusion of Nettles with me, or a hot infusion of burdock, dandelion, oatstraw, red clover, chickweed - any of my wild weed friends! These nourishing herbs are all food medicine, used in cooking around the world. They are incredibly nutritive and fill me up with living, green, vibrant energy when I am snacking on cheese, rice & bean tortilla chips and cucumbers (my go to grab food)! One medicinal meal I do love to prepare is a bone broth in the winter. I freeze it into smaller portions and use it medicinally when my family needs fortification. I like to add reishi mushroom, shitake mushrooms, astragalus, burdock, dandelion and sometimes nettles to the bone broth. A cup of this broth is pure magick and the herbs help make it into a deep immune tonic. 

— RELATIONSHIP —

How do you most enjoy creating relationship with the natural world?

Creating relationship with Nature reminds us how to create relationship with anything and everything. In teaching the ways to create intimate partnerships with plants, I remind students to approach the plants with a humble and open heart, treating them as elders and teachers. We come from the plants, they have much to teach us, and are incredibly generous with their healing gifts. All relationships are built on trust, respect, pure presence, devotion, and time. Our culture is often asking us to speed up all processes, including building relationships. Plants remind us to slow down, to build a foundation of trust, and to receive from the nourishment of spending time together, allowing for deep listening and profound exchange. You would not go up to a stranger and ask them for a gift -- similarly, we must approach the plants with reverence and respect and give them what is most precious to us -- our time, our undivided attention, the prayers spilling forth from our heart, our authentic devotion and whatever else they may be asking for. 

— PERSONAL POWER —

What plant or element from the natural world has most put you in touch with your personal power as a healer?

Ha! The plant SCHIZANDRA comes to the surface right away and jumps out through me loudly laughing and claiming her place as my ally of personal power: "Hello, sisters and brothers who seek to be rooted and moving from your place of power! You ask who has taught Marysia to embody this energy? Clearly it is me! Schizaaaaandra! Bright beam of juicy light! Energizing, empowering, beautiful, sexy and unstoppable! I laugh in the face of obstacles and effortlessly dance through limitations like a lighting bolt of zingy clarity! I have strengthened Marysia in times she was wilting, grounded her foundation, nourished her immune system, nervous system, heart and strengthened her digestive system and ability to transform herself and the energy all around! I clear away clutter and fog from the mind and move the flame of personal power from the belly, through the third eye, casting dreams into being! And did I mention that I tonify the reproductive system -- you see, both our sacral chakras and our roots - where we ground into the vitality of the Earth and birth creativity into form - are wellsprings of power. You need not generate your own energy -- plug into the Great Mother darling, the source of all life, death and transformation.. and allow these currents to move through you into all directions! And feel free to call me Superwoman, darling!"

... Thank you Schizandra. As her dear student and ally, I will mention that it is wonderful to call upon Schizandra while also being mindful of the cycles of life. While it feels great to be productive, energetic and empowered, it is natural and healthy to experience times when energy slows down, when we rest, retreat, reflect and go inward. I have learned to work with Schizandra and also take long periods of time away, honoring that I do not always have to be superwoman, nor is it healthy for me to strive for this energy at all times. Let us remember that the vitality and energy that we feel with life bursting forth in Spring comes after the slumber and meditative rest of Winter. 

As we find ourselves in the Season of Fall, we can harness the energy of releasing, midwifing death, nourishing our roots, harvesting the fruits of our summer labor, and bringing our energy into the darkness of the Earth Mother, preparing to dream with her this winter.

Blessings and infinite love and courage, for us all and for the Great Healing.