THE BOTANY OF BESOMS

I believe we and our relatives have been tying up brooms for hundreds of thousands of years.  We have lived in camps, caves, and lodges, and in every one of those settings brooms were likely used for all kinds of reasons. I can see our ancestors sweeping embers back into fires, sweeping out annoying insects … Continue Reading

BASKET MEDICINE

All of my ethnobotanical essays are about expanding our perception back to what it once was. Our greatest loss has been compartmentalized thinking, that bugaboo that has rendered us incapable of perceiving the spirit in seemingly mundane things. Our ancestors were holistic thinkers and viewed the world as unified, tangible spirit, a world so fractured … Continue Reading

AND THE WORLD SHALL FORGET YOU FOR KINGS

“Ye are gods, and, behold ye shall die, and the waves be upon you at last. In the darkness of time, in the deeps of years, in the changes of things, Ye shall sleep as a slain man sleeps, and the world shall forget you for kings.” I have been exploring the herbs used by … Continue Reading

INTRODUCTION TO MESOLITHIC BRITAIN

I have been asked, why spend an entire lifetime studying Mesolithic Britain. It is prehistory about which virtually nothing is known. The archeological evidence is scant and what has been discovered is often shrouded in mystery. The word prehistory has a way of implying unknowable; something lost forever in the remoteness of antiquity, until you … Continue Reading

THE DELICATE DANCE OF BALANCE

No matter what harmonic epithet might resonate with our soul, Shaman, Priest/ess or Witch, I have found that the craft holds no hope of perfection without intimate knowledge of our Earth’s mysteries. Therein lies true magic, a gift from the Mother of Creation and handled deftly by the most ancient of mankind. What we call … Continue Reading

EVERYDAY THINGS HAVE ANCIENT ROOTS

What could be more breathtaking than our Earth, impregnated with life by cosmic glitter? She is traversed in a web of improbable silken threads of energy. Cloaked in a many-layered, multi-dimensional mantle of overlapping worlds, Her mystery moves and changes like fog seeking with intention. And yet Her secrets, seemingly unknowable wonders, reside just beyond … Continue Reading

THE PRAYER OF TRANSCENDENT SMOKE

It is remarkable that many of us have trouble naming five or ten plants associated with smoke medicine. In my search through the ethnobotany of Mesolithic Britain I was delighted to re-discover at least 120 species indigenous to that area alone. Smoke is an area of medicine that is, to me, a practitioner’s dream. There … Continue Reading

THE SANCTITY OF ANCIENT HUNTERS

“The first ritual pertained to hunting, the center of our existence. We hunted plants and animals for food and medicine, never easy in the winter. We stalked the paths to the stars and to the Ancient Ones. We preyed upon knowledge to transcend ourselves. And we prayed for lovers and the Dreamtime. We hunted remedies … Continue Reading

THE FLUTES AND DRUMS OF ANTIQUITY

The woodwind and percussion instruments of ancient people were created from a wondrous array of species for an intriguing diversity of reasons. As with other hunter-gatherer medicine the flutemakers and drum makers knew the intimate properties of the plants harvested and selection was never random. Animal clans often used the bones of the species they … Continue Reading

THE SPIRITUAL DISPOSITION OF TOOLS

Some of you know by now that ethnobotany is the love of my life. I am convinced that without a working knowledge of plants and the ecosystems in which they flourish our ritual practices that include everything shamanic lack the power and vitality to truly transcend our everyday reality. The spirits that inhabit every single … Continue Reading

THE KEEPERS OF BODY PAINT, PIGMENTS, AND TATTOOING SOOT

Little else quite excites me as much as the discovery of a mummy with tattoos, a stone age artifact painted up for some magical purpose, or a gallery of magnificent cave paintings. The vast improvement of archaeological techniques as well as our Mother’s willingness to give up a secret or two keeps me fueled up … Continue Reading

RAINMAKERS AND THUNDER PEOPLE

The Mesolithic era was probably the apex of cultivating observational excellence. We watched everything from the cosmic mystery to the natural world making our ancestors, in my opinion, the definitive experts of all time. They were scientists by any definition. Yet I revere them because they never failed to include mysticism, spirit, intuition, and ritual … Continue Reading

SUN SIGNS AND PLANT INDICATORS

This essay will seem a bit loosely constructed due in part to the limit of material. Even so it does weave together not so much within the construct of 21st century thinking but within the holistic thinking of far more ancient people. Although not directly related I will provide anecdotal material on the species mention … Continue Reading

WHEN MIGHT WE HAVE HAD IT RIGHT?

That was the question I asked myself more than forty years ago. My life-long quest rolled through tens of thousands of years of history and like all trails the path did get cold eventually. But there was enough to conclude, heart and soul, that once we did have it right the memory of which still … Continue Reading

GENDER ROLES: PREJUDICE OR POWER

I have been asked by a number of people to work up a piece that addresses how the principles of the Mesolithic Goddess world apply to 21st century women. I could do that. But is it really a good idea? An essay like that suggests that only women had any place of relevance in ancient … Continue Reading

SHAMANISM: WHAT THE HECK IS IT ANYWAY?

I thought before entering into a discussion about “Shamanism”, where I am bound to regale you with my personal understanding and opinion, as I am apt to do that I would turn to good old Funk & Wagnalls: “Shamanism: [<Russian<Tungusic "saman"<Sanskrit (abbreviation Skt.) "samana">ascetic] A primitive religion of NE Asia and Europe holding that gods, … Continue Reading

NEANDERTAL: NOT OUR COUSIN BUT OUR BROTHER

Poor Neandertal (Homo neanderthalsis), discovered in 1856, has been maligned for more than 150 years. He was a hunter-gatherer and lived in small bands or extended family units. Neandertal’s physical uniqueness is now understood as a consequence of having left Africa for Europe about 400,000 years ago and finding himself genetically isolated in an exceedingly … Continue Reading