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Autumn

The Energetics of Autumn

And the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep, and Autumn was awakened.

While we are still feeling the lingering hot afternoons of the last few weeks of summer with the transition from August to September, it is hard to not feel the quiet calling of autumn upon us. 

The mornings are just a little bit cooler, a little crisper, and the plants awaken to the sun with just a bit more dew these weeks than previous. 

It is hard not to start having visions of quiet strolls down the street in a cozy sweater, leaves crunching beneath your feet, and start daydreaming about spicy, warm drinks that nourish the soul. 

If we look closely, we might even start to see the soft whispers of the coming seasonal change. Even now, as the days are still so warm, we see the trees slowly starting the preparations of transition – of letting go. Perhaps it may come in the slight change of color in the leaves as we gaze above us. 

Or perhaps it is in our garden as we see once-flourishing abundance starting to produce seeds in the place of fruit or flower, pushing the energy into the next generation – final stages as they prepare to rest or return to the earth. 

Autumn comes to us like a warm hug from a long-lost friend, and brings with it the sense of peace, slowing down, and a calling for rest, balancing out the vibrant, bright energies of the past few months. 

Photo by Isham Fernandez on Unsplash

 

Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox 

With the coming of the Autumn Equinox, we start preparing for the darker half of the year. The Autumnal Equinox is the companion of the Spring Equinox, the second time of the year in which the period of day and light are in balance, and equal in number. While it is a time where we experience a transition in which we embrace less of the external energies and look more inward, it is also a time of deep reflection and celebrating gratitude. 

It is often around this time that traditionally much of the harvest would occur. We sing songs of gratitude for the abundance the earth has gifted us, and the rewards we are experiencing for our diligent tending to our gardens and fields. 

It is also a time to reflect upon the beautiful, energetically-vibrant months of summer. For many of us, summer is synonymous with a time of adventure, memories, and excitement. We can hold a space of gratitude for these gifts of the previous season, and how they will live within us long into the future. 

We also can express gratitude for the calmer, quieter months that lie ahead. It is during the fall that the earth prepares for a period of deep rest. The natural world slows down immensely, the energy often having a downward momentum, toward our roots and returning to the earth. 

The energetics of the equinoxes are beautifully described by Simone Matthews, teacher and founder of the Universal Life Tools Wisdom School, as being synonymous with the breath. The spring equinox can be thought of as a sort of re-birth, in which nature again arises from the deep rest of winter, and energy has more of an external momentum. Therefore spring is synonymous with deep exhalation, whereas autumn is a time of drawing energy inward, moving in synchronicity with stillness, root medicine, and introspection –  or deep inhalation. 

If it is of interest to learn how you can further align with and celebrate the autumn equinox, we have an in-depth post dedicated to this significant date of the year, as well as suggested activities in which you can participate! 

 

Photo by Marc Wieland on Unsplash

Energetics of Autumn 

Like the spring, autumn marks a point of transition. It is a shift away from growth and renewal, light and warmth, toward introspection and return, darkness and cold. 

Unlike the spring and summer, in which nature is in a period of celebrating birth, growth, rapid change, and vibrancy, we celebrate a different type of energy during the autumn. In nature, this time of the year marks a period in which nature is celebrating growing old, remembering and honoring those who existed before us, and marked the paths we walk today, letting go, and sacred death. 

The energy of autumn aligns with the archetype of the Wise Woman. It is the Wise Woman who, as described by herbalist, teacher, and author Marysia Miernowska, “practices discernment and uses her energy wisely.” As the trees shed their leaves, immensely symbolic of letting go of what no longer serves us, we too should seek to “use this time wisely to put down your baskets of doings and over commitments. Cutaway the overextended ways that spread you thin and far, and draw yourself back into your wholeness.” 

It is this energy that makes autumn such a profound time. Matter of factly, some ancient cultures believed that autumn was not a time of ending, but actually the exact opposite. Unlike much of our modern culture in which death, particularly that which happens in nature during this season, is seen as an ending, this period was actually seen as a beginning. Samhain, the Celtic holiday that marks the end of the harvest season, was often seen as what we might describe as the New Year. It is from a period of deep rest, reflection, and period of fallow in which we can be reborn. 

 

Practices to Align with Autumnal Energy

  1. Express Deep Gratitude. Find a way to do this outside if you can. Perhaps you can sit in your garden if you have one and give thanks to the plants that have given so much energy to produce nourishing fruit for us. Maybe you take a walk in the local park near you, and give thanks to the trees, thanking them for producing the oxygen we breath, and being teachers for us. Perhaps you sit outside on a chair, simply breathing in fresh air and take time to reflect on the year, and what you have been given. Find whatever way suits you best, but this is a transitional time to spend with nature and give thanks.
  2. Let Go and Cut Back. Living in alignment with the seasons is to follow the lead of nature. At this time, nature is preparing the process of letting go. Trees will shed their leaves, and it is often that our gardens are putting all of their energy into either the last of their fruits, or are producing seeds. Perennial plants may be starting to turn brown as they prepare to go dormant for the winter. In our gardens, this is the time in which we cut back plants, preparing our beds for winter rest so that we may plant anew in the spring. In what ways can you let go of what no longer serves you? What things can you say no to that do not inspire you or bring fulfillment to your life? 
  3. Honor Your Ancestors. For many cultures, autumn is a time of remembering those who came before us. This is reflected in such dates as the Celtic Samhain or Día de los Muertos that is celebrated in Mexico. It is believed that during this time, the “veil” between this world and the next is thinner, and our ancestors and loved ones are able to return to our plane for a brief period of time. We all have ancestors who come before us, who have helped shape the path we walk today. Take some time to reflect on what that means for you, and how you might honor them. 
  4. Explore the Concept of Sacred Death. As we experience in nature, there is a balance of life and death. As we are cyclical beings, nature too exists in a cycle. Often, our culture does not like to acknowledge death, and instead we focus on youth, trying to hold onto it as long as we can. We do not embrace the blessing that is growing old and wise. Herbalist Marysia Miernowksa accurately states that, “When we do not allow for the season of Fall to enter our relationships, creative projects, bodies, minds, and souls, we overextend Summer, trying to do, produce, and expand – and we burn out. Being unable to tend death in our lives also prevents us from rebirthing ourselves, and we may become sick, weak, uninspired, depressed or ill.” It is during this time of the year that we may observe how nature embraces death and the sacredness of this transition. Perhaps you might take some time to explore your own thoughts and feelings around death. What comes up for you and why? Explore this concept without judgement or preconceived ideas. 

 

Photo by allison christine on Unsplash

Herbal Allies for Autumn 

As with each season, the plant world has many allies that stand ready to share their wisdom and energetic alignment with autumn. Calling upon and working with these herbs can help us further come in tune with the transition from summer to fall. 

It is during the autumn that root medicines come to shine. At this time, the energy of nature is shifting downward as plants prepare to return to the earth. Therefore, less energy is spent in producing fruit or seed, but instead in producing larger root systems. When we harvest roots at this time of year they are at their most potent and bring us the most amount of nourishment, because this is the time of year when the plant is sending its energy down into the roots for the winter. Recommended root medicine herbs to work with in the autumn include astragalus root, dandelion root, burdock root, and marshmallow root

We can’t have an article about being in alignment with autumn and not mention cozy, warming herbs that take center stage during this season! There is a reason these have grown to have such comforting familiarity in our culture, and are so beloved. They have a warming effect in our body, enhance our mood, and aid in invoking digestive fires. These include such herbs as cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. Check out our blog post all about these herbs to dig in further: Fall Herbs & Spices

Lastly, an herbal ally and widely-recognized symbol of autumn is apple. Apples were often offered during rituals and harvest festivals in thanks for abundance. Apples have many benefits, including being a nourishing source of fiber, and contribute to healthy levels of cholesterol. We can also work with weaving apples into a gratitude practice, infusing our energy into them as we bake a pie to share with loved ones. 

 

Join us for Seasonal Energetic Classes! 

Did this post resonate with you? Are you wanting to go deeper? If so, we are so excited to welcome you to join us in a seasonal workshop series at Golden Poppy.

Each season, we will offer a class that is comprehensive and in-depth, teaching participants how to align themselves with the rhythms of each season. This class series will take a deep dive into the energetics of the seasons and how these affect your body and your state of health, and apply this knowledge in easy-to-use ways so you can begin to match your body to the rhythms of nature. 

We will discuss energetics from an Ayurvedic, TCM, and Western herbal perspective; touching on ancient traditions as well as their modern counterparts. We will cover herbs, foods, and lifestyle habits for each season to help bring, and keep, your body into harmony with the world around you. 

These will be longer, lecture-style classes, so come prepared to take notes and discuss! 

Seasonal Energetics: Fall Community Class

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021 6pm  MST

This will be a hybrid in-person and zoom class, those of you who live nearby the store can attend in-person, it will be held outside. We will also (attempt) to live-stream it through Zoom, so if you can’t make it live you can still sign up and get the recording. 

Cost $10/person

Click here to register for the class! 

 

Thank you so much for joining us on this exploration of autumn energy, and we hope to see you soon! 

 

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8 Methods to Welcome the Autumnal Equinox

 

We just have to say, this is the best time of the year. 

Okay, maybe we are a little biased, but you have to admit, there is something just so cozy about the onslaught of the autumn. 

Summer brings a lot of bright, vibrant energy – from endless days at the pool, the hustle and bustle of family road-trips, and the residual ache we still feel in our stomachs from all of the laughter at summer family reunions. 

The energy of autumn, on the other hand, has a bit of a different nuance. As we retire our summer t-shirts for knitted sweaters, trade-in iced teas for hot cider and pumpkin spice lattes, days at the lake for apple orchards, and the air turns from hot and muggy to crisp and cool, this time of year brings a different kind of reflection. The beginning of this season calls for us to look inward, to be more present, and to slow down. 

We have compiled a list of ways in which you can celebrate and welcome this changing of seasons, and particularly the Autumnal Equinox. We invite you to explore these with us, and hope that you might find some of these activities enjoyable, and a means in which to better connect with the shifts that are occurring at this time. 

Photo by Annie Spratt

The Autumnal Equinox 

There are four distinct markers that divide up the seasons of the year. These are known as the solstices and equinoxes. 

The month of September (September 23rd this year, as a matter of fact) is where we experience the Autumnal Equinox. Like its counterpart in the spring, this phenomenon only occurs twice a year. During an equinox, the day is equal in daylight as it is at night, meaning there is the same amount of hours for each. 

A solstice however, is a little bit different. Instead, these consist of imbalances in the day and night. During the Summer Solstice, we experience the longest day of the year, or the day with the most amount of daylight before the night comes. The Winter Solstice on the other hand, is the opposite. It is during this time that we experience the shortest day of the year, meaning we spend more hours in darkness than in light. 

So what happens during the Autumnal Equinox, and what causes this to occur? It is not the actual distance of the Sun from the Earth we have to thank, but actually the tilt of the Earth’s axis, according to National Geographic. [Matter of factly,] when the Earth is closest to the Sun, is when we actually experience winter in the Northern Hemisphere. The tilt of the Earth’s axis is slight, measuring at about 23.5 degrees, and this causes rays of the Sun to not be distributed over the Earth evenly the majority of the time. When the Earth’s tilt is toward the Sun, that part of the Earth experiences more of the Sun’s energy, resulting in Summer for that particular hemisphere. Only two times per year is the Earth equally balanced in receiving the Sun’s light, which is when we experience an equinox. 

We invite you to check out this post from National Geographic, as it has a fantastic slideshow demonstrating how various cultures around the world celebrate and welcome the Autumnal Equinox. 

 

Photo by Andrew Neel

 

Holistically Speaking… What Does the Autumnal Equinox Mean for Us? 

The equinoxes are representative of complete balance and harmony. Where the Spring Equinox is a reminder of the awakening energy that is to come, the Autumnal Equinox reminds us more of the cycle that is life, and perhaps the more difficult things to come to terms with, such as loss. 

For example, within all of us there is darkness, just as there is light. If we do not come to terms with what is deemed dark within us (such as a fear that is restricting us from pursuing our goals), this becomes an anchor, holding us to the bottom of the sea. We are unable to move forward and will be held back from seeking that which serves us. 

Additionally, in order for there to be life, there must be death. It is during this time that we celebrate and honors that which must die for there to be rebirth. The vibrant plants release their fruits to be harvested and enjoyed, and the leaves wither away to the Earth to become nutrients utilized by the new growth of the year to come. Many cultures across the world use the energy of the fall season to celebrate their loved ones and ancestors who passed before them, using this time to acknowledge the memories and gifts they have passed down through the generations. 

Perhaps at this time of the year, you sense the slower, almost sleepy vibes of your environment. It is during this season that the Earth prepares for the deep slumber that is winter. This is the season that calls us to look inward, and as the trees shed their leaves, we shed what no longer serves us and prepare ourselves for the goals of the coming new year. 

 

“. . . It is so important to use this time of universal balance to hold gratitude in your heart for the life lessons that have helped you grow, and let go of everything else. 

For the soul, the autumnal equinox is also a time of harvest.”

Nell Ragan, Author of Rhythms of Play

 

8 Tips for Celebrating the Coming Autumn 

If you are looking to find a deeper sense of connection with the coming season, we invite you to explore the following tips and recommendations: 

  1. Journal. As we have mentioned throughout this post, the themes of the coming autumn include equal balance and shedding what no longer serves us to make room for the rebirth that is to come. Meditation may not be everybody’s cup of tea, and that is okay! Journaling can still bring about a meditative state, and allow one to look deeper within themselves.
    Here are a couple of journal prompts to nudge you in the right direction
    ~What can I release that no longer serves me?
    ~Where am I experiencing a sense of imbalance, and why do I feel this way?
    ~What goals do I have for the year that is to come?
    ~What are 20 things I am grateful for that have happened this year?
  2. Press reset. This is a great time of year to conduct your own shedding of leaves on the inside! Perhaps after all of the treats we indulge in over the summer months, our digestive systems and metabolism could use a bit of a reset. This can be done through adjustments in our nutrition. We invite you to connect with our in-house nutritionist and schedule a consultation to develop an individual and personal plan perfect for the fall.You can also lead yourself on a DIY cleanse, we love using the Whole Detox by Deanna Minich. It’s a whole foods based cleanse that also works through your chakras and is lovely, not a starvation diet, and dives deep into the mental and emotional aspects of cleanses as well.
  3. Meditate. For those who do enjoy meditation, or are looking to deepen their practice, this is a great way to honor the changing seasons. Take the time for quiet solitude, and observe the nuances of the season arriving around you. Does the air seem different? How does the energy around you seem to be changing?
  4. Conduct a Gratitude Practice. This time of year has historically aligned with the harvest season. It is a time to give thanks for the abundance that the spring and summer months have contributed to. At this time we reap the fruit of the growth that has occurred.This same concept can be done by you. Take the time to express your gratitude for any abundance you have experienced so far, and will continue to experience in the future. Perhaps you can do so in the form of a journal prompt, as suggested earlier in this list, or even start a “Gratitude Jar” with your family. This can be a special jar in which each member of the family writes something they are grateful for each day, and at the end of the year, you can read them together as a family!
  5. Connect with the herbs of this season: Nothing creates and solidifies memories quite like that of different smells. Fall is largely associated with cozy, comforting aromas. We’re betting that the minute you even hear the word fall, a certain number of scents come to mind. A great way to connect both with herbs of the season, and manifest some lovely fall aromas for your home is to create a herbal incense using herbs reflective of this season!
  6. Make pinecone pumpkins with your little ones. Here is a natural and sustainable craft idea from a fantastic blog titled Fireflies and Mudpies: Simple Crafts and Play for Kids, for you to enjoy with your kiddos!
  7. Restore balance in the home. Our environment has a profound impact on our overall wellness. If you find your home has collected a bit of clutter, or perhaps seems out of order in other ways, it can be hard to achieve the equivalency in balance that the equinox represents. Take the time to get organized and perhaps purge anything you no longer find useful (Marie Kondo anyone?).
  8. Support your local farmer. This list of tips to welcome fall would just not be complete without a little bit of cliche! We, of course, are going to suggest that you participate in apple-picking or hayrides, but not just because they are fall activities, but because it is important. Often these activities are organized and offered by small, family-owned farms who are members of our community. Supporting our local farmers is a way to support our community as a whole, and can be a great way to remind ourselves where the harvest we have come to enjoy comes from!

We wish you happiness as this summer comes to a close and we move into fall. May this time of year bring you wellness, and with an immense sense of release! We are excited to see the abundance the coming year brings for each and every one of you! 

 

Sources: 

  1. National Geographic. “What is an Equinox?” National Geographic. 19 March 2019. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/equinoxes/
  2. Regan, Nell. “Fall Autumnal Celebration Ideas.” Rhythms of Play: Raising Creative Nature-Loving Kids. 2018. https://rhythmsofplay.com/11-ways-to-celebrate-the-fall-autumnal-equinox/
  3. Schoettler, Lorrie. “Autumnal Equinox 2018: 8 Ways to Connect with the Fall Season.” Stony Ridge Farm. 20 September 2018. https://stonyridgefarm.blog/autumnal-equinox-2018-fall-celebrations/
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Fall Herbs And Spices To Keep You Warm

Fall has officially arrived with the recent Autumn Equinox and we are entering the season of harvest and abundance. Traditionally, in some cultures, the Autumn Equinox marked a time of inward reflection, introspection and change. To assist this natural cycle, warming and nourishing foods and herbs were often celebrated at this time of year for their ability to build and strengthen all body systems going into colder months.

Fall harvest time rewards us with a variety of vegetables including beets, potatoes, and squash that all contain high nutrient and complex carbohydrate content. Then, of course, there are fall favorites like pumpkins and apples, along with warming, spicy herbs! What better time to cozy up with your favorite book, (or favorite Netflix show) sipping on a tasty brew of Spiced Cider, Chai or Golden Milk!!

This special time of year is one of the best to experiment with spicy, warming herbs like Cinnamon, Ginger, Turmeric, Cardamom and Allspice in cooking or herbal teas.  Many of these highly aromatic, warming herbs contain chemical compounds, especially in their volatile oils, that have a wide array of physiological effects. They can stimulate cardiovascular function, relax nervous system function, boost the immune system and aid in promoting healthy digestion–  All while warming the body and soul!

 

TREAT YOURSELF THIS FALL SEASON BY ADDING THESE TASTY
AND HEALING HERB/SPICES INTO YOUR DIET AND LIFE.

Cinnamon– (Cinnamomum spp.)

*Cinnamon is highly aromatic and one of the best warming herbs/spices there is! Cinnamon stimulates circulation, and is highly anti-inflammatory. It also increases healthy digestive fire,  helps an upset stomach, and feelings of nausea. It also lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and helps promote healthy weight management. Consider adding Cinnamon to cider, chai, Mexican Hot Chocolate, applesauce, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and chili.

 

Turmeric (Curcuma longa

Turmeric is primarily known for it’s anti-inflammatory action, specifically for joint and chronic pain conditions.  It’s also a great digestive herb that protects against ulcers. Curcumin, the main active constituent in Turmeric, increases blood flow and strengthens cardiovascular function while also helping to support the liver and healthy detox processes. It has been shown that adding a small amount of black pepper along with Turmeric significantly increases the absorption rate and the bioavailability of curcumin in the body. Add turmeric to soups, stews, Indian or Thai curries, Chai, and Golden Milk.

 

Ginger (Zingiber officinalis)

Ginger is one of the most important herbs used during colder fall and winter months. It warms and rejuvenates, stimulating proper circulation. It also helps at the onset of colds and flus by reducing body temperature and encouraging healthy toxin release. It helps digestive upset by relaxing smooth muscle around arteries, and allows warm blood to move from the core out to the periphery. Other benefits of Ginger include its use for nausea, indigestion, cramps, motion sickness, vertigo and morning sickness. Consider using Ginger in tea with lemon, ginger ale, kombucha, Chai, Golden Milk, in sauces, smoothies, cookies, salad dressings, miso or soup.

 

Cardamom  (Eelettaria cardamomum

This is another warming digestive herb that freshens breath, promotes appetite and improves digestive and liver function. Cardamom can be added to blends to improve circulation or to clear sinuses and air passageways. Cardamom is also safe and effective for morning sickness. Consider using Cardamom in tea, Chai, bread, sweets or soups.

 

There are also important lifestyle habits that you can adopt in fall that can help as we move into colder winter months. Fall is one of the best times to begin boosting immune system function and implementing healthy eating habits in order to avoid catching colds and flus later in the season.

 

HERE ARE SOME OTHER TIPS FOR SUPPORTING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM DURING THIS TIME OF YEAR:

 

Root vegetables including beets, winter squash, sweet potatoes and bell peppers contain carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene that helps build Vitamin A and supports healthy immune function overall. Consider consuming these throughout the season!

Fermented Foods, Healthy Fats and Fluids: The gut is highly connected to immune function. In fact, about 70% of our immune cells are located in the small intestines. Kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and fermented foods can help support healthy bacteria that builds immune function. Healthy fats also coat the intestines and support healthy immune cell functioning.

Vitamin C: Is known to help protect the integrity of immune cells. It is helpful in small doses on a regular basis. Useful in large doses when sick only for a short period of time. Natural Vitamin C sources include citrus fruits, rosehips and and some berries.

Bone Broth: A mineral rich broth that is similar to a homemade chicken noodle soup. It is rich in essential vitamins and minerals as well as amino acids. This broth can help nourish and restore overall health and vitality. A vegetarian high mineral/nutrient rich broth can be made with Nettle, Burdock and mushrooms like Reishi.

 

RECIPE CORNER:

 

Golden Milk

Bring coconut milk, ginger and Turmeric to boil, then add all spices and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Strain, then add honey to taste!
Enjoy during cold fall or winter nights to warm up!

 

References:

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Tips For Fall Health

We love the changing of the seasons, even though the plants are starting to make the transition into their winter slumber, fall is typically the time to harvest root medicines, so us herbalists never mourn the loss of the flowers and leaves because we know there is still medicine to be found.

This is the time of year to start deepening your roots by slowing down and taking the time to nourish yourself to help keep your immune system strong.

Fall is commonly known as the start of cold and flu season, with back to school, increasing amounts of things to do, and the coming of the cold weather, but it doesn’t have to be.

There is a lot you can do to help keep yourself and your family healthy this time of year.

MAKE SURE YOUR VITAMIN D LEVELS ARE ADEQUATE.

Low vitamin D is very common in the winter, even in states that get a lot of sunshine, this is due to the amount of UVB rays your NOT getting when the sun stays lower in the sky during the wintertime.

Ourselves and our clients most often take this vitamin D supplement. Typically they are taking 5,000 IU’s per day, but you should double check with your doctor.

To learn more about how all of this works check out the Vitamin D Council’s website.

USE IMMUNE-BOOSTING HERBS

Herbs such as ElderberryTurkey TailReishi, and Astragalus are perfect for keeping your immune system strong BEFORE you get sick. You can drink a tea daily with these herbs in it, or use an elderberry elixir (which we have for sale in the store only) if tea takes too much time (though we highly suggest you try the tea).

Using these herbs in your homemade soups is also a really good idea, simply toss them in the stockpot while it’s cooking and infuse the broth with extra goodness that doesn’t really change the flavor much.

The one thing that’s important to remember is that astragalus should only be used BEFORE you are sick, as soon as you experience signs of illness STOP USING IT as it can make the illness last longer. Once you start to feel something, switch to other herbs. The Immune Boost tea is perfect, as is the Winter Warmer Tea.

Once you get sick, try the Cough Calming Tea to help relieve dry irritating coughs or the Cold & Flu Tea if you come down with something particularly nasty. In the store, we also have a Cough Syrup and a Cough Calming Herbal Honey that are excellent to have on hand this time of year.

BE SURE TO GET ADEQUATE REST

We tend to push ourselves too hard with the start of the school year, but our bodies naturally want us to slow down as the light begins to fade. Make sure you’re getting lots of rest and relaxation time and plenty of good sleep to help bolster your system.

Our Time for Bed Tea can help if you experience mild to moderate sleeping issues, and our Relaxing Bath Salts are perfect for helping you to unwind at the end of the day.

START WITH THESE SUGGESTIONS AND LET US KNOW HOW IT GOES!

We love getting feedback about how we’ve helped (or didn’t!) you get healthier through herbs, so be sure to send us an email if you like, follow us on FacebookInstagramPinterest, and Twitter

If you’re excited about learning more about how herbs can work for your health, check out our great book selections, or come to an evening class.

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