The Wisdom of Plants with Angela Segraves

In my interview with spiritual herbalist and energy healer Angela Segraves, we talked about the wisdom of plants and how to connect with them. We each had a story or two about listening to plants, and Angela led us through a short meditation to find a plant ally of our own.

Listen now to this episode of The Natural Wisdom Podcast!

Interview with astrologer Emily Trinkaus

My first interview on The Natural Wisdom Podcast was with my friend, teacher, and mentor Emily Trinkaus, an accomplished astrologer, healer and writer. We covered a lot of ground, including astrology as a healing art; practical suggestions for getting started with – or deepening your connection with – astrology; astrology as a way of connecting with natural cycles; and a brief foray into current astrological energies and how they are playing out in our lives. Emily will be a regular guest on the podcast, and later this year we’ll cover some major shifts in the astro-weather, and take a peek into 2022.

Have a listen!

Message from the Forest

Message from the forest: Give up the struggle!

A few weeks ago, I took a short walk in the mountains and ended up on the bank of the creek, sitting on the roots of a big spruce tree. The challenges of the moment were on my mind and I wondered, as I often do, what I might be missing. As I sat quietly, I focused on nothing more than listening, not too hard to do when the music of the creek filled my ears. As the sounds shifted and flowed, sometimes emphasizing high melodies, at other moments deepening and gurgling, I closed my eyes and felt the weight of my body settle into the forest duff, felt the support of the Earth and the life all around me. After a few moments, a very specific thought clarified itself, almost like a gentle command: “Give up the struggle”.

I felt at once the meaning of the words, although I knew it would take some time for my mind to catch up with the understanding. It wasn’t a suggestion to just give up and stop trying, nor to give in to some notion of failure. I also knew this particular directive would be challenging for my personal make-up, no matter how well I came to understand it.

A couple of years back, I listened to a talk by an astrologer on the ‘secret fear’ of each sign (Sun, Moon or Rising would work here). She noted that the secret fear of a Capricorn person is of being a loser. I have my Sun and several other planets in that sign. Capricorn gives me my connection to the Earth and the wisdom of Nature; my grounded and practical approach to most things; and my ability to climb the mountain, such as that of a career. It also gives me the will to strive towards ‘success’ – the opposite of being a ‘loser’. 

Yet, while striving towards a goal can certainly be an admirable trait, it can also become unbalanced. The hard work and striving become ends in themselves, and struggle becomes a habit. 

In the birth chart, accomplishment, commitment, and mastery are aspects of the archetype of the planet Saturn. Saturn represents our inner authority and integrity with ourselves. When we ‘do’ our inner Saturn, we bring ideas into reality, make commitments, and take responsibility for our time-and-space-bound lives here on Earth.

But the focus on achievement to the exclusion of all else is an unconscious expression of the planet Saturn, which rules the sign of Capricorn. Overdoing in order to reach a summit of some sort fails the ultimate test of sustainability and is no longer life-affirming, but life-draining. It is not the best expression of Saturn.

That same planet is ‘exalted’ in Libra, the sign of the scales, meaning that it finds its greatest expression by reaching for balance, beauty and justice in relationship with another. Fully embodying the archetype of mastery and integrity is not about ‘making it happen’, but about co-creation. The ultimate success comes through cooperation, not domination.

This is the true meaning of Libra, and the work of Libra season. The harvest is mostly in, the nights are becoming longer (north of the Equator), and rather than pushing through we are rewarded for cooperating – amongst ourselves and with the wide world around us. Cooperation, too, is how we reach toward the ever-elusive ‘balance’, which does not exist as a place, but a process. Life is a dynamic, flowing dance and just as in any dance, it is most beautiful when there is an ongoing give and take, ebb and flow between the participants. If the dancers stop to strike a perfect, balanced pose, they are no longer dancing. If we expect to stay in perfect balance, we are likely no longer breathing, and we are certainly no longer cooperating with the flow of life. 

And, while we are generally taught it is better not to go to extremes (an unconscious Libran trait), as my father was so fond of saying, moderation in all things – including moderation. Extremes can strengthen us (as Wim Hof tells us), and expand our range. And some of us only seem to find the middle after exploring the edges. Maybe we burn ourselves out by over-working, over-doing, over-achieving. Or perhaps, instead, we give up and settle for surviving rather than flourishing; for what we need instead of what we truly desire. Neither end of this spectrum is a place we can live

Giving up the struggle means allowing ourselves to flow with the dance, even at the far edges of what is ‘good’ for us. It means accepting we want what we want, as well as the limitations of the moment. In order to fully cooperate with life, we must act from a place of acknowledgement of how things really are. It means, for instance, desiring a home with space, quiet, garden, trees; and appreciating the cramped, noisy apartment that shelters me for the moment.

My daily practice now is to notice when I seem to be making things harder than necessary. When I find myself beating the keys on the laptop trying to finish a newsletter, I pause to wonder if it really needs to go out today. If I catch myself thinking of how I could or should have done something better, or differently, I practice remembering what I did well. 

There always seem to be ‘shoulds’ behind struggle, an unconscious quest for perfection and an ideal of success that drains energy. Maybe for me, there is also that secret fear of being a loser. Giving up the struggle makes room for true success, born from authenticity, integrity, and cooperation.

The advice from the forest feels life-affirming: give up the struggle. Just keep flowing like the stream, or swaying like the trees in my own unique way. Let life lead, and keep dancing.

How do I struggle? Let me count the ways:

  • Judging myself for feeling anything but grateful for what I have.
  • Second-guessing a decision I’ve made and implemented, or an action I’ve taken.
  • Focusing on what wasn’t perfect instead of what went well.
  • Trying to figure out how others are going to respond to what I do, what I say, what I write.
  • Blaming myself for not being in ‘better’ shape, having more clients, creating more classes, having a nicer website.
  • Worrying about next week, next month, or next year.
  • Pretending I don’t feel a certain way, or wanting to feel a different way than I do

In what ways do you struggle??

The Natural Wisdom Podcast Home

The Natural Wisdom Podcast

The first episode of The Natural Wisdom Podcast was recorded July 10, 2021. Topics included an introduction to the podcast and its purpose, a little about how it came about, and some practical wisdom on aligning your lifestyle with Nature’s rhythms. Follow the podcast on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple, Spotify,, Google, Breaker, RadioPublic and PocketCasts.

Listen to the latest episode here:

Here are some of the highlights of what is on offer in The Natural Wisdom Podcast:

  • Astrology! I’ll be hosting regular (at least monthly) astro-weather forecasts and insights to help you get in synch.
  • One of my pet subjects is how our lifestyle can be our medicine. When and how we eat, for example, is often more powerful than what we eat.
  • Other ways to connect with the natural world, from communicating with plants and animals to ‘catching the season’ and more.

Every episode will be geared to helping humans remember ourselves as Nature. Have ideas for speakers or subjects? Become a patron, follow me on Patreon, or send me a comment here on my website.

Want to join us live and participate in the conversations? Become a patron.

List of Episodes

Season 1

Episode 1, July 10, 2021 – Remember Yourself as Nature

Bonus episode – Connect with your inner Sun!

Bonus episode – Feel your inner Moon

Bonus episode – Injuries are my teachers

Episode 2, August 7, 2021 – We are seasonal beings!

Bonus episode – How to get grounded

Bonus episode – Virgo New Moon and seasonal transitions

Episode 3, 2021- An interview with astrologer Emily Trinkaus!

Bonus episode – Message from the forest

Episode 4, October 16, 2021The Wisdom of Plants with Herbalist and energy healer Angela Segraves

Bonus episode – Entering the portal of Scorpio Season

Bonus episode – Scorpio Season Corrections and Uranian Amplifications

Episode 5, November 4, 2021- Learn how to connect with the animals in your life with Kim Shotola of The Lightfoot Way

Bonus episode – Plutonian Journeys

Episode 6, December 4th, 2021 – An epic conversation about current astrology with Emily Trinkaus – the Sagittarius Solar Eclipse, the confusion of Neptune, and releasing certainty and old beliefs.

Episode 7: A special Solstice episode on the astrology of the moment, plus a meditation and ritual for calling in our greatest desires.

Season 2

Episode 1, 2022 – New Year, New Moon, new beginnings

Episode 2, January 8th, 2022 – Cosmic Wisdom with Kristine and Emily. Emily Trinkaus and I covered the major shifts going on in the Heavens and what that means for all of us.

Episode 3, January 13th, 2022 – Turn fear into fuel with gifted healer Belinda Noakes

Coming up soon:

Episode 4, January 22, 2022 – The story of the ancient Queen of Heaven and her descent into the Underworld. This Sumerian myth has exact parallels to the journey of the planet Venus from morning to evening star.

Scorpio Super-Moon – what will break free from our depths?

Scorpio Super-Moon – what will break free from our depths?

Monday’s Super Full Moon in the sign of Scorpio brings old and new tensions to a head. Scorpio, ruled by the animating force of Mars, is the symbol of the edge-walker and the sense of intimacy with life that comes only through awareness of death. Mars has just crossed into the Moon’s sign of Cancer, the Great Mother of creation, and the two bodies are working together from each other’s homes. But with Mars “out-of-bounds” and unpredictable, and Pluto – Underworld Lord  with a Scorpionic feel – standing still as it prepares to turn retrograde, there is a ferocity and obsessive quality in force as this Full Moon brings to light what has been hidden. 

The Scorpio Moon stands opposite the Sun and Uranus in earth sign Taurus. Radical, revolutionary Uranus exacerbates the unpredictable energy of Mars and Pluto, suggesting potential breakthroughs, break-outs, or breakdowns. These aspects alone point to a powerful time for breaking free from old patterns and restrictions, as well as a time of plumbing the depths of our own hearts and minds for what we are ready to release.

However, the Full Moon-Sun/Uranus opposition triggers the tense square angle between Uranus and Saturn in its home sign of Aquarius. We have felt the strain between these planets since the beginning of the year and perhaps most acutely at the U.S. inauguration. Uranus pulls us toward freedom and release, while Saturn constricts and restrains. The interplay between these forces continues through 2021, culminating on Christmas Eve, pointing to the continuation of eruptions of resistance to authority and control.

Uranus in Taurus is known for triggering earthquakes and volcanoes, break-throughs and eruptions in the Earth itself. As Taurus is associated with money, agriculture, food, and other forms of what is material, these breaks can come in the financial system, agriculture or food supply as well other material aspects of life. Crypto-currency, the current volatility of the stock markets, and lab-manufactured ‘food’ are all examples of revolutionary Uranus in Taurus. 

Yet another layer of meaning for this Saturn-Uranus square is the inherent conflict between old traditions (Saturn) and the revolutionary and new (Uranus). Nowhere is this more evident than in the field of health science right now, where the traditional story of germ theory is being tested and challenged by our growing knowledge of the microbiome. Conclusions drawn based on the new science, especially around the pandemic, have been ignored or suppressed as potentially contradicting the current response policies. Yet, without access to all the research, scientific rigor becomes mired in dogma.

These health policy conflicts are the tip of an iceberg: the question of what it means to be human, and what it means to be ‘natural’, and what role technology will play in our future. Will we continue to tinker and remodel ourselves as human beings by incorporating technology into our bodies?  Learn to see ourselves as an integral part of the natural world on our home planet and treat both accordingly? Or is there room for both, somehow?

With Saturn in Aquarius, the sign ruling science, this year’s conflict, suppression and disruptions indicated by the square to Uranus pave the way for Pluto’s entry into Aquarius in 2023-24. Just as Pluto in Capricorn has coincided with the transformation of institutions, governments, and other human traditions around the world, its entry into the sign of science, technology, and human wisdom promises death and rebirth in those areas of life over the next two decades.

The Full Moon may offer us a preview of the some of the paradigm shifts we are undergoing as a collective. It most certainly offers us the opportunity for our own personal breakthroughs. Where are we constricted by old rules or ideas? How do we integrate ourselves into Nature, and Nature into ourselves in our daily lives?

With three of the four fixed signs activated at this Full Moon, there is a feeling of a logjam waiting to break free. What is lacking is the fiery, creative expression of Leo. Each of us can fill in the missing energy by tapping into the blaze of our hearts, and expressing what we find there.

See what Monday night’s Full Moon brings to light for you, and how your heart wants to break free.

If you want to learn practical ways of aligning with Nature in your daily life, join me for my seven-week Diet as Medicine course, beginning May 5th.

What does astrology have to do with natural well-being?

What does astrology have to do with natural well-being?

…when rightly understood, [astrology] opens the way clearly to an understanding of the manifestations of Nature through human and mundane affairs.” – Llewellyn George

Someone once asked me what astrology had to do with nature. Here are some thoughts on that question.

Prefer to read rather than watch? Here is a transcript.

Germ war and peace

I am more than a little discouraged at the polarization of viewpoints over various elements of the pandemic at a time when curiosity and cooperation could not be more important. Social media has become a hotbed of fear, anger and shaming over how individuals choose to respond to the situation. Not only is there little agreement,  there is no room for disagreement over such basic questions as whether masks are effective tools in protecting people’s health; whether, when and how much we should be able to return to daily life outside our homes; and even the extent of the threat – or very existence – of a virus itself. And to my great confusion, these questions have become partisan issues, making it difficult if not impossible to question and examine without immediately attracting an unwanted and unwarranted label. 

We’re moving from theory to practice, from preaching to teaching, from knowing to asking questions, from big picture to little picture (details). We need to cultivate Gemini perception, recognise duality, engage rational and intellect. This isn’t about accepting what we’ve been told, instead it’s continuing to enquire so that we find our own answers.

Leah Whitehorse

For someone who believes neither in the mainstream narrative nor conspiracy theories, any conversation becomes a minefield. But from my perspective, not only are we missing the mark on addressing the underlying causes of one new, virulent virus, but many of the commonly accepted solutions have the potential to make our health, both individually and collectively, worse, especially in the long term.

The fundamental mainstream narrative of the pandemic rests on the assumption we are helpless victims of a viral invader, and only technology – from masks to vaccines – will save us from its clutches. Yet protection from invasion is only one part of the story of health, and an old and destructive one at that. It is based in our unconscious mindset of warfare and conflict, and the even more unconscious assumption that as human beings, we are separate individuals, each self-contained and ending at the outside edge of our skin. Based on this erroneous and incomplete worldview, our culture sees disease as something outside of ourselves, a foe to be conquered. We have a war on every thing we label as illness; we talk about survivors and victims; sickness is caused by an external enemy we can identify and kill.

One consequence of this thinking has been our war on microbes and ‘germs’, based on our embrace of germ theory, which has become an unquestioned assumption on which the conventional medical model – from research to treatment – rests. Antibiotics and their overuse, anti-bacterial soaps, chlorinated water, and even health laws requiring sterile containers for making cultured foods such as cheese, show the extent to which we have gone out of our way to limit or eradicate the microbial population with which we come into contact. And sadly for our health, we have been far too successful.

In recent years, the conventional medical world had just been discovering the problems this war on germs was creating, such as strains of ‘super-bugs’ that are harder to kill and more destructive. And then there is what natural health practitioners know and honor: our bodies are not all human. Bacteria and viruses – our ‘microbiome’ – make up a significant proportion of what we think of as ‘our’ bodies by such measures as the proportion of the total cells with human DNA versus ‘other’ DNA. We are not separate and ‘pure’ humans, but living, breathing, animate ecosystems, and these non-human parts of ourselves are essential to our ability to digest food, eliminate toxins, and manage less-helpful microbes from our environment. We have been poisoning ourselves with antibiotics and medicines meant to attack invading diseases. 

We have also poisoned ourselves by poisoning the Earth – and our soil and food- with pesticides and herbicides (not to mention pollution) designed, again, to kill the plants and creatures we deem enemies. The result has devastated – I don’t think that’s too strong a word – our digestive systems. It is difficult to find a statistic for it as our conventional medical world doesn’t even know how to measure it, but we can point to the rapid and exponential rise of everything from ‘irritable bowel syndrome’ – a catch-all for conditions physicians don’t know how to treat – to gluten intolerance and all sorts of food sensitivities, as well as so-called auto-immune conditions. Interestingly enough, one of the most promising new treatments for some of the most severe digestive conditions is fecal matter transplantation (FMT), which involves refining feces from a healthy person and transplanting into the sick person to recolonize their lower intestinal tract with ‘good’ bacteria. And of course, in the natural health world, a key recommendation is often to take ‘probiotics’ or to eat fermented foods in order to add back in some of the bacteria killed off by our modern lifestyles.

Before Covid, we were just beginning to see more focus on the natural and ‘alternative’ medical view of addressing health by strengthening the whole person, rather than just focusing on disease. In other words, make the terrain inhospitable to the invader. A primary line of defense agains ‘bad’ viruses and bacteria is having enough of the good ones; our microbiome is an inextricable component of our immunity. 

Yet now, here we are right back to using anti-bacterial soaps, hand sanitizers, disinfectant sprays and all sorts of ultra-cleaning techniques in a bid to eradicate one virus. And, lest it needs to be said, eradicating a whole lot of beneficial microbes along with it. Just as with the natural world, that loss of biodiversity within us has severe implications for our health.

Another tragedy of the current shift to repelling invasion and finding a technological cure for any illness is the helplessness it engenders. In the case of Covid, we are told to sit tight, keep your distance, close yourself off and wait for the technological silver bullet. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the mainstream narrative around Covid for me and other natural health practitioners I know is the utter absence of any advice or even analysis on how people can strengthen their own resistance to the virus. Instead, we have social distancing and masks, both of which have very unpleasant and even health-threatening consequences, particularly over the long haul. And since we are at war with the virus, adopting these measures is implicitly related to being a good and responsible citizen for many, contributing to the politicization of the issue.

This time affords us the opportunity to learn how to be healthy instead of simply continuing our failing war with disease. To begin with, we can recognize that health does not come from a one-size-fits-all approach. There is no one right way to eat or to exercise; each of us has a unique constitution. 

We must also expand our thinking beyond the simple questions of what goes into our mouths and how many calories we burn. When and how we eat, how much television we watch, and other lifestyle elements such as sleep habits have significant impacts on our health. For some, the shelter-in-place orders may have led to the discovery of the importance of downtime and rest for everything from digestion to sleep to mental clarity. 

And while we are at it, we can start breaking down the artificial barriers between body, mind and spirit/soul.

The war on germs and disease is costing us our health. It is time to make peace.

True care

I was fortunate enough to attend a three day astrology conference over Memorial Day weekend, my first professional astrology gathering. Despite the last-minute switch to an online format, it was an enriching and nourishing experience. I remember professional conferences from my time as a corporate communicator as somewhat mercenary, focused entirely on various forms of selling – oneself, one’s company, even the profession itself. The Northwest Astrology Conference (NORWAC), was a breath of fresh air – and confirmation of the great depth, breadth and most important to me, the humanity of my new profession. 

Attending workshops and plenary sessions, even electronically, with hundreds of colleagues and astrology nerds helped me feel a sense of belonging I rarely had in my corporate days. The depth and diversity of the content exposed me to speakers and topics I might not otherwise hear. As someone who loves to learn through immersion, I felt as if I soaked up a semester’s worth of education in just a few days.

As a self-care teacher and consultant, one of the talks I found most thought-provoking was titled “Astrology as radical self-care”. The presenter, Diana Rose Harper, defined self-care on a significantly larger scale than I have commonly understood. More than physical and even emotional well-being, her conception of self-care encompasses a wide sense of self-acceptance, aimed specifically at the internalized beliefs that diminish self-worth in marginalized populations. The nagging, subconscious feeling of ‘not enough’ is challenging enough in my own white female experience, let alone in people who receive messages of ‘less than’ because of not only their sex but also skin color, religious beliefs, and more.

Diana Rose named a couple of specific examples of unconscious cultural stories which contribute to our de-valuing of ourselves, including the Christian myth of ‘original sin’. Among others, the story of Adam, Eve, a serpent, and an apple pervades our beliefs, thoughts and actions whether we realize it or not, coloring our assumptions about everything from our inherent worth as individuals, our relationships to each other (especially men and women), and to our place in the natural world – as in, separate.

Her talk went to the heart of why I practice astrology, what I love about Ayurveda, and the value I see in yoga when taught well. These disciplines encourage us to understand ourselves as unique and valuable individuals, each with our own talents, physical/emotional/mental/spiritual make-up – with great worth and value precisely because of this uniqueness. These disciplines, practiced in this manner, are practical tools supporting true diversity, of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual make-up.

Another gift of these systems of knowledge, based as they are in Nature, is their underlying assumption of our unity with each other and our innate belonging to the natural world: every plant, planet, animal, human, rock, tree, molecule, atom are each individual waves in one cosmic ocean. We relegate the term ‘ecosystem’ to discrete parts of the natural world around us, yet we are all integral elements within one great ecosystem. And none of us is more or less than any other.

In a recent newsletter, Sajah Popham, founder of the School of Evolutionary Herbalism, gave these eloquent words to this sentiment:

“We are all human. We all have a heart, a mind and soul, a unique gift that we were born onto this Mother Earth with. We are shaped from the same elements, breathe the same air, drink the same water, see the same sun, moon and stars. We are all an integral part of Nature, just like everything else.

When we look in Nature, does the Rose look at the Peony and think, “My petals are so much more beautiful than those, my perfume so much sweeter. I am better than the Peony”? Does the Eagle think itself as higher or better than the Hawk? Does the orange part of the rainbow think the purple part is lesser?

No. Nature does not judge. Nature does not criticize and put down. Nature does not discriminate.There is no such thing as higher and lower in Nature. Everything is what it is, its own unique form of a beauty and perfection. Each part necessary, integral, and creating the dazzling richness of diversity that we see in the natural world.”

It is our very sense of separateness from and superiority to Nature that gives rise to the sense of separateness and superiority of one race/culture/nation/sex over another. Separateness and superiority are not natural, regardless of what we may have been taught.

We are in desperate need of reclaiming the natural wisdom that comes from knowing we are each an inherent and valuable part of a greater natural whole. When we truly, deeply understand at the level of felt emotion and sensation, in our hearts, minds and bodies, that we are “all in this together”, then we might stand a chance of healing the divides that are conquering us: black/white; man/woman; Republican/Democrat; masks/no masks; vaccines/no vaccines; global warming/ no global warming; cold, unfeeling, mechanical universe separate from humans/living, intelligent cosmos of which all humans are an integral part.

It is never too soon to start, and no effort is ever wasted. Remembering ourselves as unique, valuable, integral to the Natural whole is radical care for ourselves, each other, and our planet.

Sacred rhythms of life – and health

In the indigenous medical science from India, Ayurveda, there is great emphasis on harmonizing daily life with the natural cycles of the Sun and seasons. The focus on lifestyle and routine (rhythm) was also an integral part of traditional Western medicine in ancient times. The word ‘diet’ originally referred to not just what we eat, but – as in Ayurveda – the whole construct and pattern of our daily life.

When, what and how we eat (‘food’); how we exercise and the balance between sleep and waking (‘sleep’); plus how we use our creative energy and the quality of our relationships (‘sex’)  are the three pillars of health. Yet, these three essential components of human life are commonly overlooked in the quest for ‘silver bullet’ solutions and quick fixes for our symptoms. Whether it is a vaccine for a novel flu, a superfood to prevent cancer, special diets, the latest pharmaceutical creation, and even – ever more popular – herbal concoctions, we spend huge amounts of money and create entire industries dedicated to finding the ‘right’ remedy for what ails us.

But what if the key to our health is less about treating what’s wrong, and more about remembering what our bodies already know – that we are inextricably intertwined with the cycles and rhythms of the Earth, the Sun and even the planets?

Ashram porch

Some years ago, I spent a month in an Ayurvedic ashram in India, undergoing a detoxification and renewal process called ‘panchakarma’. Rising time, meal times, even when I could get hot water for a bath were all consistent, structured, and based in Ayurvedic teachings. In one of my last conversations with my doctor, as we were discussing some of the herbal medications he was sending home with me, he pointed out that herbs are wasted if the client does not adhere to basic healthy lifestyle practices. As someone with a deep respect for all life, he – and many of us who work with plants and other natural remedies – preferred not to offer herbs to someone who was looking for an easy fix while continuing destructive lifestyle practices.

When I work with clients on wellness, my first go-to ‘prescription’ is regulating mealtimes and sleep schedules, with an emphasis on have the largest meal in the middle of the day when possible. Other simple – but not necessarily easy – recommendations include not eating or drinking anything past seven p.m.; getting up with or before the Sun; and creating rituals around daily tasks, especially eating. It is quite easy to get much more elaborate in outlining a daily routine consistent with Ayurvedic teachings. For those who more fully integrate Ayurveda and yoga into their lives, or live in yoga ashrams (spiritual communities) the instructions can become even more proscriptive and detailed. In fact, this is likely why so many people with a little familiarity with Ayurveda see it as complicated and time-consuming – which, of course, it can be.

Yet the greates benefit to our health can come from the smallest efforts. One of my teachers used to say the single most important practice anyone can implement to improve their life is that of eating consciously. When you eat, just eat. Practice mindfulness over your food by putting away the TV, computer, and books, and focus on your food as the sacred gift from the Earth that it is.

This ritualization of daily life, bringing back the sacred to the mundane, is the great work that will bring balance back to the Earth and our bodies.

I like to dream of a time when food is truly seen and felt as the sacred body of the Earth. If eating were an act of worship, I sincerely doubt we would engage in ‘factory farming’, or look for lab-grown meat and ‘protein’ to fill our plates. Rather than meat production, perhaps we would return to animal husbandry and plant-tending in a time-honored co-creative relationship with the beings who nourish us. 

This movement back to partnership is just as important in our relationship with plants, which provide the bulk of our food and medicine. Whether the grains that have adapted with us and for us, or the fruits that tempt us to spread them wherever we go like Johhny Appleseed, or the herbs that offer their medicine in our yards, the gracious presence, intelligence, wisdom and beingness of plants deserves our honor and appreciation as much as the two- and four-legged creatures, bees, and other animate creatures on whom we depend.

I do not believe we can reach my version of Utopia until we learn to see the deeper meaning of, and on, our dinner plates. As long as food is a means to an end, something to manipulate and analyze in an endless quest for the ‘right’ diet, the ‘right’ weight, the ‘right’ nutrition and the cure for what ails us, we will continue with our tunnelvision of the Earth, plants, animals, and even microbes being ‘out there’ rather than part of the continuum of material existence that includes our notion of our physical selves. Forget the idea of your body as a discrete human entity. What you call ‘you’ is mostly other – microbes outnumber human cells by a factor of ten to one.

We can turn to modern research to corroborate the ancient wisdom regarding how aligning our lives with natural cycles can support our health. And we can turn to our hearts to underscore the importance of honoring the lives that support our lives. Best of all, we can just begin where we are with our bodies as our laboratories. Pick one thing – getting up earlier, or eating a lighter dinner, or starting your morning with some sort of mindfulness practice – and try it for a week or two. See what works for your body, your heart, your mind.

Want to find out more about how to incorporate nature’s rhythms into your own life, and support your well-being naturally? Check out my Signatures of Health consultations. Your birth chart is also your health chart! And, coming in May, 2021, I’ll be leading a seven-week online course on Diet as Medicine. Registration opens in mid-April.

Just add oil

As the Sun and Moon came together in the sign of Libra, we received our first snow here in the wilds of Montana. My body was not ready for the cold. Hot, spice chai helps, as do hot baths, and hot food. A basic (and intuitive) principle of Ayurvedic wellness is to balance a quality such as cold with the use of its opposite.

Another quality of late summer and fall is dryness. Even if it is rainy or damp outside, the late heat of August and September may have dried our our systems. And the inside of our homes can become desert-like as we fire up wood stoves and furnaces.

Sesame oil is traditional for abhyanga, but olive oil is my favorite.

The cold and dry season is hard on the nervous system, especially for those of us feeling stressed in the first place. One of the best remedies I know to soothe the nervous system is self-massage with oil. Called abhyanga in Ayurveda, it is a simple practice of massaging warm oil into the skin, preferably before bathing. Various types of oil are recommended for various constitutions, but you can use any good quality oil.

I once saw a quote from a centenarian in the Mediterranean crediting olive oil “inside and out” as one of the keys to her longevity. Ayurveda would agree. Besides nourishing the skin and protecting from the drying effects of a shower, massaging our own body with oil is a way to physically express self-love, something we can all use more of.