Accepting Applications for 2016!

Accepting Applications for Apprenticeship Programs with Serendipity Plant Lore School of Ethnobotanical Studies for 2016!

Serendipity Plant Lore is accepting applications for 2016 Planting Love, Red Cedar Love, and Black Poplar Love Programs!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Interviews will be scheduled from September until December, 2015. Serendipity Plant Lore’s Programs start in February and March, 2016!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our first year program “Planting Love” and our second year program “Red Cedar Love” cover the fundamentals of Wild Foraging, Plant Healing, Biological Systems, Botany, and Anatomy, for the Home Herbalist and for the Professional Community Herbalist. These programs are geared towards healers learning and having first hand experiences of Plant/Human Relationship, Stewardship, Biology, Wild Foraging and Plant Identification, Ecosystem Awareness, Field Training, Healing Autism and Other Neurological Diseases, Intestinal Health, Emergency Medicine, Immunity, Degenerative Diseases, Spirituality, Working with the Psycho Spiritual Aspects of Plants, Midwifery Herbs and Deathwifery Herbs, Nutrition and the Olde Ways of Unlocking Plant Knowledge handed down through my families own Healing Tradition. There are further clinical apprenticeships available for Community Herbalists, such as Black Poplar Love and Community Herbalist Love Programs, please send an email for details!DSC_0364

These programs will FUN from March through November 2016.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Email to receive details, dates, and registration information!

(c) 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 Serendipity Plant Lore School of Ethnobotanical StudiesDSC_0386

All rights reserved.


Uncovering the Dark Magic of Grocery Stores

This commercial, while it’s my least favorite form of communication, has got a meaning, a real meaning. What kind of country are we where we hide the way our food is abused, mono-cropped, chemical laden, faked, nutrition-less? Think about it. Think about the ethics. Think about the lack of regulation on big industrial enterprises while we have an immense amount of regulation of the private citizen. Think about how we eat life to live, and just because this fact is true, does not give us permission to torture the life we eat. We are what we eat. Turn to wonder how we can change this around, each and every one of us! It really is extricating yourself from a system that abuses you in return. I am not against neighborhood grocery stores, stores that employ people. I am against profit driven monopolies that standardize animal, plant and human torture. Change it, wake up your light!

(c) 2013, Summer L. Farkas Takacs Michaelson, CH

Into The Wild, Alexander Supertramp, Wild Potato

Many of us in the wild foods and wild foraging communities have had our eye on Christopher McCandless for a long time. Many, including Herbalists, Botanists, Forest Rangers have had discussions about the plants he was eating. Some have been quite disparaging. It’s hard understanding someone like Alexander Supertramp if you, yourself, have never blazed through fear of life to go on a journey, to connect with the primal being inside, sit on the earth, and be fed.

Someone like Alexander Supertramp is hard to understand, if one has never contemplated ones own life, being, ethics, connection to the breathing, beating heart of the world. I am in great admiration of Christopher McCandless, and while I have never met him, my own story follows an oddly similar pattern to his in certain aspects, and I understand the matters of my own soul.

In April 1992, Christopher McCandless walked into the Alaskan Wild. In September, 1992, his dead body was found, a poisoning from a plant near the bus that was his home. In October 1992, I went into the wild, to find myself, to be myself, to connect with life on a more primal level, a level of living, of life. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHowever, my story, bittersweet as it is at times, resulted with me alive, with a family, and living by wild foods foraging, and teaching, and stewarding the wild, and participating in natural healing with those in my community on the ground level. The Unity and Love and the freshness of living that I was seeking, and found, the connection with all the wild forces of raw nature, no matter what, is what draws some souls to undertake some journeys. Opening eyes to the real world, not civilization, but the real world. The picture to the right was my home for many years. This is my home in the month of October.

As tragic as Christopher McCandless’s story may seem, I have to give it to him, until the end, he had an integrity, and I love Alexander Supertramp. He’ll be in my heart forever. He was poisoned by a wild plant that wasn’t exactly clear on edibility in a field guide, nevertheless, he knew which plant (Hedysarum alpinum) he was eating, as stated in his journal, clearly. I am happy to post this article about the new findings, so as to hear no more comments about him being confused about which plant he ate….he knew, he was aware. I also find it VERY interesting the information connecting back to German Occupied Ukraine.

This also points to why learning about wild foods by many people and sources, and not relying on only one field guide is so important…there are mistakes and leavings out of each guide. Not so long ago, families took the time to teach their children the plants around them, this is no longer the case in Industrialized Nations where we buy plants and foods that *magically* appear in wrapping, on a shelf, under an electric light. However, this is changing, and many of us are finding our way back home. 🙂 Rekindle your family traditions! Honor them!!!

The ethics of living aren’t necessarily about fitting in. It’s about integrity. It’s sniffing out your own way, living ones experiences to the full. It’s choosing a path, blasting through fear, making a way or relationship and understanding. It’s about living, in a full sense. The full experience. Absorbing it, growing as a person.

If you are unfamiliar with Christopher McCandless and Alexander Supertramp, I heartily recommend you watch the movie “Into The Wild” and read the book “Into The Wild”. An amazing story, with an amazing music soundtrack. For the soulfully inclined. 🙂

This is written with a very deep, and profound love in my heart for Christopher McCandless, Alexander Supertramp…which are curiously, the names of my own brothers, as well. I do wonder at the marvelous being who is writing the intricacies of the greater script, or how, people who never knew each other can share so much history together, and similar journeys, and serendipitous similarities.

Perhaps, souls are born in groups. 🙂 Love, Love, Love is the point.

(c) 2013, Summer L. Farkas Takacs Michaelson, CH

Ethical Herbalists…Healing In Relationship, Right Walking In Community Herbalism.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUp close photo of Heracleum maximum, Cow Parsnip. A plant in the carrot family that is easily misidentified with some very poisonous brothers and sisters, and sometimes confused with other medicinal’s!

This is a huge discussion, so this may end up as a series over time, as differing issues come up, and things occur as I watch myself in practice, and others in practice. This is too large a subject to tackle all at once! This is a common discussion that I’ve had with many Herbalists over the years. The Authentic Practicing Herbalists that I know and work in tandem with, value a core set of Ethics to their practice. Those who do not embody a core ethical practice are not Herbalists or Healers I will work with. If I am not popular for such decisions, I’m just fine with that. Community Herbalist Healers that I respect and admire and practice with, generally feel the same way about the ethics of our craft.

I firmly believe that Herbalism is OUR medicine, a people’s medicine. Always has been, always will be. There are, however, some guidelines that one may wish to contemplate if a student would like to eventually become a Community Herbalist or work in some capacity with people as a Healer. Some of the skill sets required may be applicable to other branches of healing, some spoken about will apply to Herbalism in its own right.

In my own experience with many teachers, some of the highest healing codes sit with Herbalists. We are life loving, life supporting bunch, with a penchant for caring for plants, people, animals, and the earth, and not necessarily in that order! We believe that the natural world contains our medicine. We’re happy to augment other forms of medicine and medical strategies, or simply to nourish, tone, stimulate the bodies own repair mechanisms as a solo strategy. Most of us believe all medicine, and all strategies are tailored to the individual.

I love my role as teacher, to light, and fan the flame of herb and plant curiosity with my students. I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for it! It is an ARM of my own Community Herbal Healing Practice of over a decade. However, it’s always important to mind our excitement (we’re not talking lessening here) and move it in ways that mutually support our own health, our families, and our communities, in ways that do not harm ourselves or others, and provide for the deepening experience necessary if we want to eventually practice in the wider community.

The light in student’s eyes, new vistas of knowledge opening up and visions of great health are extremely fun to participate with! A student takes these home and works with them! Homework involves working on oneself, one’s health, one’s life(style) and love. Learn about plants, learn about oneself! This is not a stage to be looking up “answers” in books and passing out protocols from second hand sources and second hand strangers problems not based on experience or hands on knowledge with verification. If the Herbal World is opening up for you, allow it to OPEN for you! As a student learns things, and can check these with experience, that is a beautiful opening, a field to start tending and planting. Don’t rush this stage, it is beautiful and full of enthusiasm, full of love. A great ground to grow from! Prepare the ground, so you may first Do No Harm, and have a great foundation.

Take these things learned, in healthy, preventative ways, and work with them with others, for FREE. Yes, if anyone thought they were going to get rich being an Ethical Herbalist, the truth is, putting time in, and real time in is necessary. Most practicing Ethical Herbalists involved in Community Healing have thousands of hours of volunteer clinical time behind them, and lots of shaping in apprenticeships. For example, one learns how to work with a diaper rash effectively, repeatedly, and then goes out into the world working with more, and different kinds of rashes. This is a great learning method. One learns skill first, then moves out in ones household in greater waves. That takes time, effort. That is not profitable. Often, considerable self sacrifice in time and energy, many times there is no acknowledgement, yet the reward is in watching people heal, lifting a bit of misery, guiding someone to the next step.

An Herbalist builds small, but if the aim is to be a Healer, one does end up working on anatomy, biology, botany, psychology, Allopathic Medicine, Holistic Medicine, Spiritual Aspects. When one becomes serious about a way of study, one looks for teachers. After learning basics, one looks to apprenticeship. Apprenticeship is olde. A very olde way of learning from a teacher at a deeper, experiential level. It is not the same relationship as a teacher/student in class, it goes beyond.  Apprenticeship is the equivalent of what colleges deem as internship. Thinking about that a minute here, the very idea of internship came from the practice of apprenticeship!

Staying humble, as one comes to learn, there is no such thing as learning it all, or being an expert on every possible healing way. No matter how many decades we have behind us, we are always learning. Herbalists love learning. Respect and support your teachers, you might just find you’re working with them one day! They may point out something about your approach you wish they had not, and that can be humbling too, but it is these experiences that allow growth to occur, and truth and honesty to always prevail!

Connection with Nature…we become responsible for our relationships with Nature, the health of stands, and learn not only about plants, but about their community and their sisters and brothers. As one of my wonderful Teachers, Gradey Proctor has taught me, he says “if you’re wanting to identify plants for a hike, it’s all great to generally identify plants” but “if you’re identifying plants for food and medicine, you need to chuck your ego”. It means, you take the time to learn, and learn properly. You do not harvest and prepare medicine you are not 100% sure about, and if you do not know the plant community, the brothers and sisters, you many not be 100%. Wild harvesting for food and medicine, especially medicine, is contingent on many factors of ecosystem health, something one learns from those experienced. Heck of a lot of it isn’t in books, or field guides, its passed on by apprenticed craft. And for sure, if you’re harvesting medicine without knowing the community you’re taking it from, you might be creating great harm.

Think about the next generation of plants, the next generation of animals, the next generation of people. Are you removing something that keeps another plant family contained? Are you impacting generations of seed development? What are you going to do when you become AWARE of this relationship?

When we take, we give back. Pure and simple, otherwise, plant communities are not sustained. Here is a blog entry I made a little bit ago about “The Myth of the Brutal Savage”. Herbalists work for and with, and out of abundance, period.

If you do not know the plant ways of abundance in wild places, you will need to take the time to learn them! Farming like Natives, Harming NO Natives. Get it? That just rolled out of my fingertips like honey dripping from a piece of comb. Sometimes all we need to do is listen to our Heart Spirit for direction!

Being an Herbalist Healer, or even an Herbalist Grower, we do not deal in commodities. Health is not a commodity. We learn processes of life, of biology. It’s not a production/profit mindset, we have plenty of supplement companies that are over-harvesting life beings to extinction with fancy labels indicating something extra special to blindside the greed. If I’ve offended anyone by now, good. You’re not in it for the healing of self/others, you are going to need to look at that within yourself, contemplate, investigate your motives and what you feel called to do.

Be Honest about ones skill level, ALWAYS. An example, if you haven’t worked in a certain area, or with a specific organ before, or illness/disease process, it is your duty to tell the truth about the level of ones skill. We only work from our skill level, but with each new skill learned, experienced in relationship, we expand outwards with our healing abilities.

Each Herbalist, like myself, has a myriad of special training and learning behind them. There is no one preferred mix, each Ethical Herbalist practices with their own unique gifts and experience, and many of us have made specific choices to work in the branch we work in for many reasons. In my own history, I was not only born into a family healing legacy, I studied in Allopathic Medicine, Biology and Psychology for many years, coming back home to marry that with Traditional Shamanic Herbalism and real life experiences or working through family healing. I’ve been training in Herbal Medicine for 23 years (and still training, always and forever!) and longer than that in Allopathic Medicine (little fact about me, I was studying to be a Forensic Scientist!) To each his or her own, as long we bring a set of Ethics with us to navigate the path we’re working on, and our relationship to healing, a knowledge of our skill level, talents and weaknesses, and a way to move forward, together, in relationship with healing people, animals, plants and the earth. If you find you’re of best service this way, take a moment to consider some of the above!

I’m thinking this is a very good topic to write on periodically, as it is something that is very important in my work, this work. I have now created a new category on this blog called “Ethics of Community Herbalists” to continue in this vein! There is too much to talk about in single writings!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA beautiful Scrophularia californica, Figwort. She is part of a protocol for treating Tuberculosis and reducing inflammation in Arthritis.

(c) 2013, 2014, 2015 Summer Farkas Takács-Michaelson, CH

Hungarian Gypsy Sauce from the Farkas Takacs Family!!!

Nomadic Fire Food at its Finest!

This recipe comes from my own FAMILY*, the Farkas and Takacs Tribes. It often relies on wild foraged plants, intermixed with garden plants, but can go either way. Make it on the wild side, or make it on the tended garden side. A mix of both is great.

This is a nomad’s stew. Herbs easy to carry in ones clothes while shepherding, before the times of “instant” this and that sauce and bouillons, there was our wholesome, instant whole food sauces, pastes and salts. Our home-made bouillons. Our home-made lives, which were far more delicious and nourishing and health promoting then what is available in stores these days.

Can we make our return to this easy whole food-ism?  I think the *only* thing in the way is our pervasive dependence through marketing and advertising to forget our olden ways, our healthy ways, and our connected ways.

First, we’re going to cut up a pastured chicken.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis recipe calls for a whole chicken cut up. Do not buy a cut-up chicken, you’ll pay just as much or more for it, and not have the beautiful back to make stock out of.  Cutting a whole chicken for frying takes a bit of practice, but not much. When you pull the skin back on the chicken, you’ll see a map on it of fat lines. In the above photo, my thumb is pointing to a fat line, I’ll cut there. Preheat a large cast iron skillet with a cup of fat (butter or oil of your choice works). Cut up your chicken.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASave the chicken back, skin and scraps for making a future broth (I just bagged them up and put them in the freezer) or to prepare fresh broth ahead of time for this recipe. To make a simple broth, place the back, skin and extra bone pieces into a soup pan with onions, onion skins, carrots, parsley, etc. and gently simmer for 2 hours. This is why cut-up store-bought chicken is such a waste, you miss essential food ingredients the less whole your food!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATake your cut-up chicken pieces and salt and pepper then. Dredge them through flour, we prefer oat flour for this. Place in the pan and fry until the outsides are golden brown, about 6-7 minutes on each side. Remove when they are browned, and place on a warming stone while you move on to the Farkas Takacs Hungarian Gypsy Sauce* and the veggies.

I always joke, the secret is in the sauce! No truer phrase has been spoken. We’re going to make a paste out of herbs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn a food processor or old fashioned mortar and pestle, place peeled, chunked ginger (wild ginger* (please see note at end of blog about wild ginger) or store bought/homegrown ginger), garlic scapes (or wild ramps or onion chives), cardamon seeds, coriander seeds, toasted cumin seeds, paprika peppers, hot red cherry peppers, mint (I use homegrown orange mint, but wild mint works too), basil, wild fenugreek leaves, a quarter cup of fish meat (carp or sardines), salt and pepper. Dribble a bit of oil, I used extra virgin olive oil.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is what the final result will be. It can be kept just like this, in the refrigerator, stored long term in the freezer in cubes (fill ice cube trays with paste for freezing, then remove them to a freezer bag) or dried to take shepherding/traveling/hiking/foraging with you.

In a HOT iron pot that you cooked the chicken in, place minimum of 4 tablespoons of paste into it, and mix with the oil from frying the chicken. Blend in a couple cups of raw milk (we use goat milk). Add more paste to taste, slowly so as not to overdo! Depending on the peppers I use, it may be very spicy indeed!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAdd your vegetables into the sauce mix. Here I have a handful of chopped red potatoes and onions with paprika.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACover your pan and allows onions and potatoes to cook until nearly done.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the last few minutes, add your fried chicken back into the dutch over to finish cooking. You can make this Hungarian Gypsy Sauce for cooking with a vegetarian dish by simply removing the meat from the recipe. It may not be truly Hungarian any longer if you do so, but it will still be delicious!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAServe with Herbed Csipetke. Csipetke is a Hungarian pinched dough noodle. There are many different types of Csipetke that I make, and one day, will devote a posting to some varied recipes. It is simple, just some flour, egg, milk, salt and water, butter and herbs. Mix the ingredients until you have a stiff dough. Place in an oiled bowl to rest for 15 minutes. Roll out into finger sized logs, pinch small pieces and place on a baking sheet. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, drop noodles in the boiling water, cook for 8 minutes or until floating on top of the water. Remove with a slotted spoon, and mix with butter. In the above photo, I added chopped cilantro and chives on top!

This is a family recipe of love, and convenience, as the Hungarian Gypsy Sauce Paste can be made anytime when there is an abundance of spices, and frozen/preserved for later use. In a pinch, it is quick! Mix with milk and a bit of oil, and you’re cooking soup, main meals, stir-fried veggies, deep dishes in a moment without harmful additives. It also has many, many nutrients and anti-oxidants!

*Wild Ginger, I do not believe people should be foraging this much anymore in the Pacific Northwest unless one has a patch that they are responsible for protecting, nourishing, and renewing. It is just as easy to grow one’s own ginger these days in a greenhouse or buy some while it is still on the commercial market. Remember, the WILD is not there just to take from, it depends on a reciprocal relationship of abundance. It is NOT a “resource” of endless supply with no giving back!

**As I share family herbal recipes and my life, livelihood and heart, please be respectful with my photos and writings, and ask permission if you would like to share, and give due credit to my blog by including it as the source. I’m tickled when people share my writings and recipes, but please do so respectfully! Have fun!!!

(c) 2013, Summer L. Farkas Takacs Michaelson, CH

Don’t Frack Our Future-Doreen’s Story

Our friend, Dermot M O’Connor, just put out an anti-fracking campaign video he was commissioned to create. Amazing, please watch and share around!

(c) 2013, Summer L. Farkas Takacs Michaelson, CH

Alighting the Dancing Root Feet of the Future!

DSC_0369An olde story, of growing from our home and back again, an adventure, in the garden and the wild wood of the forest. Breathing deep, we feel, we hear, we see, we clear, and inside, a thump, of the Dancing Root Feet.

The Dancing Root Feet come alive, that dance a tune, and stir the blood. The Dancing Root Feet sifts the soil for nutrients the root needs. Stirs, and whirs, stirs and whirls, all a light with the joy of growing, and be-ing. Whenever we spy Root Feet, first, we must decide if they are still, slow moving, or jumping. If any of the above, we may look closer until we find those that dance…when we find the Dancing Root Feet Dancers, we join, we dance the dance, we become intimate, we shout blessings to “DUNA”, and we nurture that love, water it, feed it, and strum the music. We don’t take what we do not reciprocate in the forest. We harvest with love, care and permission, and we return the gift of life…the seeds, re-potting a piece we do not need, we water them with our tears if need be, we plant back. We share back. We give back. We cultivate that very love.

This beautiful planet earth is losing her wild spaces, her “enough” spaces. Her species. With our focus on our “gimmes”, we have forgotten our deal of the care taking bargain. The “givings”. For all life feeds on life, on death, and life again. Our lives too. The cloud of the Great Respect moves in to remind us of our Tribal Elders….those who lived, in partnership, WITH.

So, dance I say! You Dancing Root Feet! Wake and smell the oxygen. Remember, we are not “entitled” to Forests or Life without giving back life. Take a close look, have you been voting for loss of public lands? Are you allowing Tribal lands to be swept away? Have you forgotten how to Shepherd with Love?

Wake those Dancing Root Feet, Wake! Those Dancing Root Feet are of the future, the future of life, as we know it. Remember the time of abundance, where all that was given by the earth, was given back in shared cultivation. Want and “not enough” come from a great imbalance of the laws of this precious planet. Want and “not enough” have come from ceaseless taking from nature without returning. The time of the industrial machine culture is coming to an end……….do you hear the whispers on the wind?

(c) 2013, Summer L. Farkas Takacs Michaelson, CH