Full Compassionate Dig


Full Compassionate Dig


This is a recent post made by my student and friend Lydia. She attended a "root birthing" with me this autumn and received an experience that I could never have found the words to teach to her. In all of the great wisdom I've gained from my human teachers and all that I've attempted to share, there is never any more adequate way to transmit the essence that occurs between human, plant, and the act of gathering. It must be felt to be learned and really it's what we're doing it for. Sure, the medicinal properties of Burdock Root are important and the "how-to" of digging and preparing and admistering it are much needed information, but, from my view, that is the lure. 

The things that the plants can do for us, their healing gifts, their medicine. This is how we're led. A wise woman I knew told me this about a conversation between Siddha yoga guru Baba Muktananda and an attendee at his ashram; A man once asked Baba "Is it ok that I came here, partly, to meet a woman? Is this the wrong reason? I'm feeling guilty, my intentions weren't pure, should I leave?" And Baba said, "God doesn't care why you come. What's important is that you do and God will do the rest."

Once we step into it. Start the dig. The information is generated as an effect of the exchange and is multidimensional and so difficult to express in language, although what Lydia has shared here conveys that she met with this sympoeitic space between plant and human on this day when, from all apperances, we were merely digging Budock root.

Sympoeisis is derived from the ancient Greek σύν or sún: together, and ποίησις or poíēsis: creation or production; creating together, making-with, in contrast but not opposed to autopoiesis or self-creating or producing. Autopoiesis in this sense arises from the sympoietic exchange and evolution with self-creation or self-agency occurring or materializing as a part of  sympoeisis. As Donna Haraway explains in  her book,“Staying With The Trouble”, “Sympoiesis enfolds autopoiesis and generatively unfurls and extends it.”  Sympoiesis was first termed by M. Beth Dempster in her 1998 master’s thesis in Environmental Studies and Planning at the University of Waterloo who defined it as “Sympoietic (collectively-producing) systems do not have self- defined spatial or temporal boundaries. Information and control are distributed among components. The systems are evolutionary and have the potential for surprising change. Since they cannot be identified by boundaries, sympoietic systems must be identified by the self- organizing factors involved in their generation.”

Herbalism is sympoetic. Plant medicine is sympoetic. Gaia is sympoetic.

Words from Lydia:

"Last week was my first experience harvesting Burdock root. During the first dig, the burdock root broke from misusing the shovel. Prior to my second attempt, teacher Lisa shared wisdom of the caring craft of this particular harvest. We identified mother Burdock from the children (from which we 'birthed'), then a circle/square was designed around the stem(s) and leaf of 1st growth Burdock and, finally, we began the full compassionate dig.

Mindfulness is important when utilizing a tool such as a shovel. When pulling back, the shovel-head has great potential to break the root, however, when pushing forward it allows for the soil to loosen which then should provide protection of the root!

Once established, let the tedious patient work commence.

(Could this be plant/root/earth spirit magick?)

With intermittent uses of hands and shovel, working cool Earth, and tickling gnomes, we managed to achieve to the end (or the beginning) of the root.

After a successful responsible harvest, we continued the ending process of triple washing and scrubbing of roots in cool water, then chopping and into solvent for tincture.

Though the majority of the process required patience with the tedious, i found myself feeling fulfilled, rewarded and gained more respect for plants/herbs and learned more about the responsibilities of being human.

Currently, im undergoing root work and as much as i'd like to enhance the pace of healing, the work has efficacy when not rushed. Beauty and potentially good things are associated with the art of patience. "We dig down into deep dark to rise up." "All we need is a little patience"- Guns N Roses"


To follow Lydia  and her work as an herbalist, root digger, and champion hemp actvitist on Intsagram: @hempnoesis


Return to By Earth, Root, and Flower Blog



Root Birthing


Root // Birthing

There are two times of year that are considered optimal for digging medicine roots, Spring and Autumn. The reason for this is both because it is a folk way that was practiced as an aspect of seasonal living by Earth-based cultures and as part of our understanding of plant phsyiology. Biennial and perennial plants use their roots to store nutrients throughout the Winter. In the Spring the roots retain these rich, essentials until the plant is signaled by the sun and temperature shift that it's time to send it's vital energy upward toward the emergence of sprouts and buds. After the plant has flowered and produced seeds, the lowering of the sun and the first frosts signal it to send it's life force back into the roots.  If the plant is biennial (has a two year life-cycle) we can gather the root any time during the Spring or Fall of the first year and the Spring of the second year. For perennials roots are gathered during the Spring or Fall, and, with perennial roots, many plants have certain years that are considered optimal for root harvesting. Such, as with Echinacea, it is generally considered best to harvest it after it's at least 3 years old and after about 7 years old, I have found, the roots become more fiberous and woody so are not optimal.

As with all herbal medicine making, I consider root digging to be a sacred activity, and, root digging in particular, a sacred activity of the highest order. The roots of a plant are the containers, the vessels, the medicine bags that hold all of the synthesized nutrients medicinal compounds, basically the sunlight, generated during the Summer. Roots, in their living luminescence, are enfolded beneath the surface of the soils and snows to wait for the time to rebirth. This is in every sense a gestation period when the deep codes of life are restored and regenerated.. The roots are enwombed beneath the surface within the and when I gather them, as I dig, my perspective is not one of pulling or ripping up, but of midwifing the subterrean, the beings of the underworld, the origins of green depth.

And the Earth, dug into, shoveled, torn. Root diggers. We. Make her sacrifice.

Below is a video of myself and my friend/student Lydia harvesting some Burdock root. Burdock requires a fair amount of patience to gather as its taproot really reaches down into soul of the soil. Once harvested, we scrub it with 3 water baths, chop, and either tincture or dry.





See video

Living In Tick Country-updated post tick bite recommendations


Living in Tick Country

Fall is truly upon us now and this is one of the times of the year that ticks seem to be most prevalent in the Northeast/Adirondack foothills. Spring is the other season when they're highly active. During the summer when we may popularly think of ticks being about, they are less of a problem because they don't thrive in hot or dry conditions. Ticks thrive in cold, damp conditions and although they can be present during both winter and summer, they are far more active at spring and fall.

Syndicate content