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THE WONDER explores perspectives, rituals, and observances of modern, naturalistic, Earth-revering Neopagan religious paths. Naturalistic Pagans embrace the world as understood by science (that is, without gods, magic, or the supernatural), and enhance our lives with myth, ritual and activism. Hosted by Mark Green (author of ATHEOPAGANISM: An Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science) and Yucca (formerly of The Pagan Perspective YouTube channel, now of the Magic and Mundane channel).

Named #4 in the top15 Pagan podcasts for 2022! https://blog.feedspot.com/pagan_podcasts/

Herbs, Plants, and Paganism

June 21, 2021

Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com

 

S2E23 TRANSCRIPT:

Yucca: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-Based Paganism. I'm one of your hosts Yucca. 

Mark: and then the other one, Mark.

Yucca: And this week we are talking about herbs, about plants, about Wildcraft all that good stuff. 

Mark: Yeah, exactly. You know, I was saying before we started to record, if you think about the stereotypical, which is hut, you know, they're out there in the woods, right. You know, all dripping with Moss and everything, and you step inside the threshold and you look up what you see are the rafters hung with bundles of various kinds of plants and herbs that are drying.

Right. So pretty much a part of the whole tradition and archetype of the witch or the healer or the, the pagan to be to be working with our local herbs and. and to do that with, for a variety of different reasons. So we're going to address that today with the caveat that neither Yucca nor I is either a botanist or an herbalist.

So we're just kind of nibbling around the edges of this, but wanted to make our listeners aware of it and give you our thoughts.

Yucca: exactly. I think that that image, that archetype is really interesting in today's conversation because very, very few of us live in that context anymore. That archetype, that image comes from at least as stories about times in which we lived in much smaller communities when we've lived much closer to the rest of nature.

And for many of us today, we live inside of, of very large urban areas in which the connection with the rest of nature is not so visible to us. Of course, we're still part of these cycles. We're alive. There's no way of getting out of that, but our society is set up in such a way that many of us are simply consumers.

By what has already been produced. And then it just magically goes away, whether that's a flush of the toilet or you put it in the bin and that gets taken away by the garbage truck. And we just, aren't part of the production element, let alone the death part and the decay, which we'll come back to in the fall.

When we come back to talking about compost and all of that good stuff, just cause we like to do things seasonally. But I think given that the, the connection with plants and of course not just plants, but fungi and, and all of the other very interesting

types of life that there are that I, think that that can be really, even more potent in our lives today because it's missing. 

Mark: I agree. I, I think so. And one of the things that struck me as you were talking about our urbanized environment is that the other thing that's happened is that we have really farmed. The expertise in various skills like medicine. And that's not to say that Western medicine is somehow wrong because generally speaking, it's not, it's very effective at what it's good at, but 

Yucca: that's another conversation of, it's very good at it. Certain things not so great at other things. And hopefully we can start to address that. 

Mark: right. But it used to be that medicinal activity was mostly the purview of yourself, yourself and your family. You kind of had to take care of this yourself. So if you didn't know anything about. The kinds of herbs that might help you, if you have, you know, a really terrible sinus cold or something like that, then you were just going to be miserable and maybe things would deteriorate from there.

But if on the other hand you knew that elderflower is a really effective tincture for head colds and congestion and stuff like that. Then you could remedy your situation and improve your symptoms. So, that image of the, the herbs drawing in the rafters yes, it's part of the whole witchy aesthetic which is cool.

We're into the witchiest. But it's also a reflection of a time when people just had to be much more self-sufficient because services were not as available.

Yucca: and, and today it's, it can be 

Mark: Cool.

Yucca: a reminder and a symbol of, of that self-empowerment of taking back a little bit of that knowledge and that ability to, to take care of yourself and your loved ones and your, your household members. 

Mark: Right. And, and I should say right now, I alluded to it a minute ago, but we are in no way suggesting that. You know, that you try an herbal approach to your cancer treatment or something like that. Western medicine is powerful. It's science-based it's peer reviewed science-based, which is about as good as it gets when it comes to our research and our understanding of the nature of the human body and its processes.

And that is still a wide open field that we're discovering things about every day. So not everything is known by any means, but we are not saying you know, take up, take up this soft path, herbal medicine and give up on your, your family practitioner and know, that 

Yucca: Yeah. We're definitely not trying to set this up as a, somehow it's a either or kind of situation that like everything in life, but it's nuanced and there are, there are appropriate times for each and seeing it as part of a bigger picture is really important. 

Mark: Sure. If you're experiencing mild anxiety and you're unable to sleep a cup of camomile tea, maybe all that you need in order to solve your issue that yes, there are pills for that, but you may not need pills for that. You may just need a cup of camomile tea.

Yucca: Yeah. And that's one of the things that later on we'll get into is, is bringing some of the ritual aspect into that as well, that, that cup of camomile tea tea, plus that as an, a component of your ritual could be really quite, quite soothing. Right? Yeah. So we've put that out there that we're not saying use, ignore your doctor's advice or anything like that, or, or shun particular kind of medicine or anything like that.

But so all of that being said that the herbs and. Other types of life forms, again, getting into the fungi and some of the bacteria and things like that. They, they bring a richness and that there's going to be some which are going to be more widely known. Like we just mentioned Campbell meal. That's something that's can grow in many different environments, many gardens.

And it's something that is widely available, but there'll also be things which are very, very specific to your own area where I live. We have OSHA, which is oh, you're nodding. Like you've heard of it before. Yeah. 

Mark: I've had OSHA. Boy. Is it bad?

Yucca: It is, you know, that, that bitter there's something to that. And yeah, w where I grew up, basically you have any trouble in here. They then make it pictures too, but just two on the route. And

there's all kinds of really fun folklore around it too. And when I had my first kids, I was given several bundles of them, of people, swearing that you got to put them in the crib and put it in this direction, that, and put it in the car seat and all of the, you know, lots of fun things around that.

But certainly you're not going to find that plant in say, you know, more than Canada, it's not going to 

Mark: no, no, you're not going to find it where I am either. 

Yucca: Yeah,

it's, it's very specific regions and there's going to be a ton of plants where you are, that, that I wouldn't even know what family they were. 

Mark: sure, sure. Yeah. I can't emphasize enough how dependent we are on on full Gloria and indigenous people in discovering this stuff, because honestly, there are plants that are deadly and there are plants that are delicious and good for us and medicinal. And somebody had to do the trial and error at some point to figure out which was which, and it took generations, many, many generations, and it took tremendous courage to accumulate that base of knowledge and, you know, indigenous peoples all over the world have their own kind of Pharmacopia of things that, that are from their local environment that they know how to use.

So, I, I want to be clear, we're not in any way, encouraging a sort of cultural appropriation here, more that as in our previous episode where we talked about paying attention, Part of paying attention as pagans is knowing the plants of our local landscape especially the ones that are useful. So wherever you are, there are plants that are, that can be medicinal.

There are plants that can be recreational. There are plants that can be sort of spiritually enhancing. There are plants that can kill you. So being aware of all of those and, you know, knowing their names, knowing their uses, knowing how they're prepared is something else that kind of goes along with the whole being a pagan thing.

And that doesn't mean we're saying you have to do it, but the more connected you are into the fabric of the, the landscape where you live, the more deeply your earth based earth based spirituality will.

Yucca: Yes. Yep.

So what are some things that folks can do to try and deepen that connection? 

Mark: Well, having a plant identifier, I think is a big deal. You know, I'm, I'm, I'm old and I'm old school, so I have a so I have an actual book, an identifier that will identify plants that I can take with me while I'm hiking, but there are apps that are pretty good. And some of them, you can just take a picture of a leaf and it'll tell you what you're looking at, which is pretty impressive.

The but then of course, knowing what to do with that do you rub it on your skin? If it's poison Oak, you do not. If it's nettles, you do not. On the other hand, you can make a very effective dandruff shampoo with nettles. You need to boil them so that the formic acid is toned down quite a bit. But it'll still make your scalp tingle, like mad 

Yucca: And the right time of year they're delicious. 

Mark: are they?

I was unaware of that. So you cook them like a leafy vegetable. 

Yucca: Yep. Yeah. You want to get them and there's certain varieties which are better than others, but you get them when they're really young and tender and you boil that down really well. And it's wonderful. It's another one for women's health.

And, and I believe that that's supposed to be high in iron and some of those some other minerals as well. So it's an example of, of herbs. Now, the nettles are one that again, are going to be found in many different areas because they've been spread there's different varieties, but for many of us in the north in north America that was brought over by the settlers and then it went wild and you can find it all over.

Now there's a lot of other like Mullins and, and some of other ones that are the same where they weren't from here, but now you can find them doing just fine. 

Mark: Like, in my area, fennel, for example, is a highly invasive universally seen plant and phenols delicious, 

Yucca: Another delicious. Yeah. 

Mark: You just, you roast the fennel bulb and it's got that, you know, kind of smokey licoricey flavor. And it's, it's great. It makes a wonderful side dish.

Yucca: Tim use it a lot. Like you would celery or like a turnip or something like that in your stews. Yeah. 

Mark: this, got the same kind of crunch or a leak. It's got the same kind of texture and crunch, but it's got that unique licorice sort of flavor. So that, that's an important point that you make Yucca, which is that the Americas are really heavily impacted by invasive species. Native landscapes are few and far between at this point because European and Asian varieties have invaded and have taken over because they have no natural predators.

So they just. In some cases, we find that problematic enough that we actually try to control or eradicate them. But in many cases like fennel they're not really doing any harm other than to the fabric of the ecosystem, which we don't tend to prioritize very much. So we allow them to continue to spread.

Yucca: Yeah, well, it, and it really depends on the particular plant because there are some that fit nicely into the community and function well as part of the ecosystem. And there are others, which out-compete because they don't have those predators, they don't have that balance. And that's where we run into some pretty major challenges because they can have their function when managed properly.

But when there isn't that management, whether it's us or their natural management, it can be very destructive. 

Mark: Yes. I think nettles are a good example of that because there really isn't anything in north America that wants to eat a nettle because they have needles that are full of formic acid and it's very uncomfortable. But where they come from, I'm certain, there's something that needs them, whether it's a bacterium that kills them or something 

Yucca: there simply must be it. Yeah. 

Mark: be

Yucca: That's if it's been around for awhile, 

Mark: okay.

Yucca: that's what nature does that? It's, there's an open niche right there and whoever feels that's going to have their advantage, they're going to grow and, and it works itself out 

Mark: Right. 

Yucca: and 

Mark: Yeah. Nature of horror 

Yucca: on a luck and it always does on, on the real big, long scale.

But, but there can be a lot of loss and destruction in the meantime. And I'm of the opinion that as, as humans who are able to think logically and observe these patterns, that we have an opportunity to help facilitate that happening in a, in a less destructive, less painful way. 

Mark: I agree because it can take tens of thousands, if not hundreds or millions of years for the, the natural counterweight to some of these organisms to arise. And in the meantime, you can blow a pretty big hole in the fabric of biodiversity. And as humans, we don't really have tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands to millions of years to wait.

Yucca: Well, we don't. Yeah. And does the bird outside your window, right. Or. You know, whatever organism it is. Yeah.

As individuals, we certainly don't. So it's a tricky one thinking about, about the different kinds of plants. One thing I would encourage people to in their own areas that they, that they steward and tend to, to try and not have black and white thinking about plants that not if there's a certain type of plant, it might not necessarily always be bad or, or you know, that there's really got to think about the whole system.

That it's part of an example in the community where I'm from is we have Russian olives and Russian olives in the riparian systems can take over. They spread really, really well because the birds loves the berries. They poop them out and then they grow everywhere. But they're also early succession species.

They can really help to build soil. And so if there's one in a garden, it's not necessarily, Oh,

it's evil. You've got to cut it down. It's Okay.

Let's look at how is it interacting with the rest of the system here? I think autumn, all of in the east is a relative that this happens with too. It's a nitrogen fixer.

If managed properly, you can be parting it, you can be growing your soil. You can be setting up the situation for later successional plants to come in. So one of the things that's important is just to think about the whole system that's happening and not just get into the, this plant is bad or this person is bad or that kind of black and white thinking. 

Mark: Yeah. This, this leads me to a natural tangent, which is unrelated to our topic, but it brings me on to thinking about, 

Yucca: tangent, 

Mark: yes, there you go. Well, humans human thinking is associative. So here we go. It reminds me a bit of the so-called cancel culture where, you know, people who have opinions that a person does that someone else doesn't agree with are immediately kind of cast on the Ash heap and nothing they have to say or nothing.

They do their, their kind of inherent worth as a person is denigrated. I, I just think that's very extreme. I th I think it may. Much more sense. It's fine. If you disagree with somebody, I've certainly told plenty of people to fuck off who I totally disagreed with. I, you know, I'm not interested in talking to you because you're racist, Trumpist homophobic, whatever it is.

But that's not the same thing as just kind of persevering in character assassination and, you know, needing to drive the name of someone into the dirt. Which is something that I see on Twitter 

Yucca: Twitter. 

Mark: lot on Twitter. 

Yucca: Twitter.

and, and the like, Yeah.

if that's, it's a really interesting area, because there's so much happening with that, I think that the cancel culture often gets shouted by certain corners of the media is a immediate way of trying to dismiss what people they're legitimate concerns. And I personally, I think. There's it's legitimate to say, I'm not going to Sue. I'm not going to give you the voice of the platform to, to, to be spreading really harmful beliefs in and misinformation about trans folks. Right.

Right. But there that isn't the same as what you were talking about. Just the, the dragging someone through the dirt and the, and the real immediate reactionary.

So there's just so much in there. 

Mark: Yeah, there really is. One of the people that's been castigated for being transphobic legitimately in my opinion, is JK Rowling. And I will go as far as saying, I completely disagree with her on this issue. And I think that she is bigoted and I, I don't approve of that bigotry. I will not go so far as to say she's a bad person because I don't know her.

And I don't know enough about her to be able to say that she's a bad person or not. What I can say is I don't want to engage with her because I choose not to engage with people who hold those kinds of views.

Yucca: Yeah.

And that's, I was never on anything that followed her, but if I was on Twitter or something like that and followed her, I would have unfollowed and said, Well, I'm not going to, I'm going to put my money somewhere else. Right. That's so that's where I stand with that. But it, you know, it's a big, I'd say I'm really glad that, that this is something that we're even talking about.

I say that on so many issues, but then I'm so glad that we can even talk about these things now. And to have these fights, even if I don't like the way that people sometimes buy theirs, 

Mark: well, yes, 

Yucca: itself, right? 

Mark: yeah, 30 years ago, if you suggested anything in support of trans people, you know, the whole world would land on you with both feet. And that would be the end of the conversation. So at least now there are these movements for liberation and and we can advocate on their behalf and be a part of them.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, 

Mark: So that was a tangent on a tangent.

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: So we were talking about not having black and white thinking about plants 

Yucca: yes. 

Mark: and 

Yucca: Or any, or?

Mark: Or

Yucca: Yeah, 

Mark: you know, really, 

Yucca: your neighbor, JK, Rowling, whoever. Yeah. 

Mark: yeah. Which doesn't mean that you don't end up having very firm opinions, 

Yucca: Hmm. 

Mark: but at least admit some nuance. Right. You 

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: even Hitler loved his dog that doesn't make him in any way an acceptable human being, but he did love his dog. So, that also applies with plants because, well, not only in, in planting a garden or trying to do a restoration project, but also in their use because plants are toxic to human.

Many plants are toxic to humans in varying degrees. And a lot of 

Yucca: we like. 

Mark: Yes, especially the ones we like, we call them spices. Those are plants which have evolved to create substances, which will lead them to taste bad or to smell uninviting or to in some way, negatively react with the kinds of organisms that are most likely to eat them so that they can survive.

We like, 

Yucca: those organisms, if they're the right size. 

Mark: Right. So we like to use many of those in small increments. And in fact, over time, spices have been pretty much the most valuable commodity in the world. In the middle ages, pepper was worth something like 12 times gold on a weight for weight basis 

Yucca: Wow. 

Mark: because it had to come from Asia. And this, this is in England.

And if it came from Asia to England, you can imagine the the dangers and risks and and expense that was involved in bringing that over. Now we can go to the grocery store and there is a rack of spices from all over the world. There's cinnamon from Indonesia and there's there's cumin and there's Mason, there's coriander and there's cardamom and, and all of those cloves, all of those express chemicals, which were originally intended to make them either dangerous or at least undesirable on the part of, of organisms that otherwise would eat them.

And so the same thing is true for humans. There are plants that will kill you, and it's really important in your local landscape to know what they are. of them produce nice looking, little fruits don't want to eat. I'm 

Yucca: some of them are beautiful flowers. The poison hemlock, which was Eurasian in origin, but you can find throughout many of the woods in north America now as well. And I believe that that's the case in some of the Australian and New Zealand books as well. Basically anywhere that the Europeans went there, their plants went with them. 

Mark: So this is kind of, where I'm going with, this is kind of a warning to, to know what you're doing. Don't make yourself a nice cup of cherry bark tea because it's full of cyanide and you don't really want that cherry stones and cherry bark actually have quite a lot of cyanide in them. You can eat the fruit.

The fruit is delicious. But the same is true of apple seeds. 

Yucca: Well, you'd have to eat a lot of 

Mark: you have to eat a lot of apple seeds, 

Yucca: Don't make a flower out of it, 

Mark: yeah, there have been cases of people, however, who really loved the taste of apple seeds and saved them until they had a big cup full and then ate them as a treat and died. And it's just something to be aware of that particularly the reproductive parts of these plants are likely to have concentrations of toxins in them so that they don't get consumed.

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: Nature's clever evolution that

Yucca: it, does it in both ways, right? Some of them, they want to be eaten because they got to go through that

digestive track before and be fertilized. 

Mark: right.

Yucca: And others. Nope. They don't want to be touched at all. 

Mark: Right, right. I think it's the, the stone fruits that are particularly toxic in the seed because they only have the one seed. If there's some kind of a critter, that's going to crack that open and eat the kernel out from the inside, then the, the reproduction is over. Whereas if you think of something like a raspberry, which is coated with seeds, that wants to be eaten because most of the seeds are going to survive through the gut and then end up being deposited.

Yucca: Hmm. 

Mark: It's just a different strategy.

Yucca: Yeah.

It's just amazing how many different ones there are. And then there are ones that don't even worry about being eaten, like the dandy lion that just says I'm going to make a lot and I'm just going to float 

Mark: yep. Off I go.

Yucca: if I go. Yeah.

Before we jump on. Just another reminder for folks we've been talking about plants and mushrooms are not plants.

They're fungis. So they're much more closely related to us than they are to plants, but that's another one where many, many mushrooms are edible and delicious and some of them are toxic and will kill you. 

Mark: Yes. 

Yucca: And it's, some of them look very, very similar to each other. So we're not trying to scare people off from, from mushroom hunting or collecting plants, but just to be really informed about what you're doing.

And for today, there really isn't an excuse not to be. We know that if you're listening to this podcast, you have internet access and it's easy to, to look these things up and, and find your local groups. Is going to be excited to, to identify the plant for you or the mushroom for you that you post the picture of or whatever it is. 

Mark: that's right. There's a, there's a, a group where I live the Sonoma county mycological society and I've gone, mushroom hunting with some of their members and it is, it is amazing how excited they will get at finding a mushroom this long. That's got these little long tendrils on it and they know that they know the Latin name for it.

And you'd think that they had grown up with this thing that they'd known it on a first name basis. 

Yucca: What an incredible kingdom that 

Mark: oh yes.

Yucca: fun are just unbelievable. And we start to get into reproduction how bear reproduction works or how there are many methods. It's just, it's just. 

Mark: Yeah. 

Yucca: Boggling. And then of course, how important they are to the plants and we start getting into the microrisal associations and it's just, 

Mark: And the, the lichens and other sort of commensal relationships and everything. Okay.

Yucca: That's one of the things in my area it's very, very dry, but we have so many different kinds of like, and it's, it's just, it's staggering and fungi and lichen. And so like in our several, usually several fungi and some sort of photosynthesizer like, 

Mark: Moss or

Yucca: it's, it's, there's a single cell, so, but they could be prokaryotes or eukaryotes  often like a cyanobacteria or

eukaryotic algae. They're completely left out unless you go to a very, very, unless you go to school for my cology, that's left out of the, the studies, right. You might do bought me one-on-one and have half a chapter talking about funding and they're not even plants, but they're so crucial to the functioning of our ecosystems, whether you're in a dry ecosystem or whether you're in the middle of the tropical rainforest, they're absolutely crucial.

And we just don't, we barely know anything about them and what we do know just doesn't get taught. So 

Mark: Hmm.

Yucca: that's a, that is a rabbit hole to go down. If you are interested in, in things to check out.

Mark: Okay. 

Yucca: Okay.

Mark: Yeah. It's it strikes me that as we're having this conversation, we are we're veering back towards. Wow. No with which we did an episode on a while ago, but we come back to that again and again, which is that we're just very excited about nature. Very you know, the, the beauty of it, the majesty of it, the remarkably intricate cleverness of it working within the laws of physics to create these organisms that just fit this perfect little crevice in in a completely complicated fabric.

So, and that's another reason why getting to know your local plants and having somewhat of a relationship with them is also really a value because then when you are out hiking in the woods and you see aha there's miner's lettuce then you know, well, I, I can eat that. That's, that's actually pretty tasty, especially early in the spring when it first sprouts out.

It's a very, very nice vegetable. And it's like meeting an old friend. So it's, it's kind of cool that way. She'll still, we talk about preserving things a little bit.

Yucca: Yeah. So there are many different methods, but one of the easiest ways, which we've already mentioned several times and here's that the image of the hanging herbs, but is simply drying. So this is going to work with, with your herbaceous plants very well. So your mints you know, oregano and things like that. 

Mark: Yeah. So you want to hang them upside down so that the moisture drains to the end of the, the branches and leaves and then slowly evaporates out. 

Yucca: For quickly, if you're in the Southwest 

Mark: yes, or quickly what that does, is it concentrates the various useful oils and compounds into the, the lower parts of the plant. And that's the part that you want to use for making your tea or whatever it is.

You can learn. Oh, go ahead.

Yucca: I wasn't, you don't want to do that in direct sunlight. So you don't do this in your window is pretty, as it might look, you, you want to do a spine for there to be light in the room. Although dark is better, but take it somewhere away from the window. That's still gonna be. 

Mark: right, right. Okay. 

Yucca: Continue. I'm sorry. 

Mark: Well, I'm just thinking, I was thinking of some other examples of the kinds of things he might do that with various kinds of mints. Of course, they're very useful. Mint is very invasive where I am, so we have some in our backyard and we will always, as long as we're here, we will have access to as much mint as we want.

But for people that don't have access to it, if you find peppermint or spearmint you can, you can cut it and then hang it upside down. And it makes a very nice tea. 

Yucca: Okay. 

Mark: elder flowers are another very common like cold remedy, cold symptom remedy. It doesn't cure the cold of course, but it kind of eases the symptoms and elderberry syrup, elderflower syrup are also used quite a bit for for coughs and throw them.

Yucca: And elder is often used as an ornamental. So you'd be surprised where you can find it. Of course, you want to be mindful that it's not getting sprayed with something, but that shrubby that beautiful green shrubby looking thing with the pretty flowers that, that depends on the, the variety, what color, but often like a beautiful white might end up being elder, say they're all over. 

Mark: the things, that's, that's a, that's a happy accident. The things people will plant are really kind of amazing to me. People plant privet, which is unbelievably invasive and really annoying. That's just, it kind of sticks out all over the place. It's not attractive. It's I 

Yucca: And when you, in that case, you're, you're meaning aggressive. They may be invasive to the area, but they're an aggressive plant. The way many mints, the meant family in general is just find it.

all over the world. But when people talk about being invasive, they mean that it's just a very aggressive, it spreads, but through the roots and can take over and just be delighted to be wherever it is 

Mark: right. 

Yucca: at the expense of most other things you want to ground cover though. 

Mark: Yeah. The meat is a little thirsty though, so it, it, it sits in a little low spot, which is right underneath the shade of a live Oak. So it's a little bit more wet they're over the dry months than it would otherwise be. So, and we haven't seen it expand much beyond that footprint. But there's still a lot of it.

Yeah.

Yucca: We're planting a lot from that family right along the border of our house now where we live, things do not grow unless you water them or they are from the desert because we just get, we normally get 12 inches of precipitation total. So that's rain and, and and snow, although this past few years, we haven't gotten anywhere near that, but, but we're putting it around because it's one of the very few things that will grow.

And they're really, really strong sense. So going back to what we were talking about about those, those tastes and smells that we appreciate as humans that were actually designed to repel, insects, and herbivores from eating them. It's a wonderful barrier for keeping little unwanted guests out of the house. 

Mark: Yes.

Yucca: If you've got a You know, your wood box or something like that, sprinkling it of the mint leaves in the fall often helps to keep little critters out of it. That sort of thing,

Mark: You know, I never actually thought about using using herbs in that way. I wonder what would repel rats we've had? 

Yucca: they're not a herb, but they, 

Mark: yeah, well, cats, cats, cats that aren't lazy. Our last cat was just like, no, no, I can't be bothered, but this one I think would be enthusiastic. Kiki's the new cat is she's pretty excitable

Yucca: Well, those strong smelling or your mints, those are a great one, but they won't do it on their own. That can be. Part of your strategy? Close also, that's something that people will do, especially for ants and other insects that really rely on those pheromone trails. You can break that, that around the border of your house or the threshold to your door, 

Mark: What I know has, 

Yucca: a, it's not a silver bullet, right. I'm sorry. Continue. 

Mark: What I know has worked really well for others that we never quite got around to doing is you can buy coyote, urine coyote, urine will definitely scare away a rodent. The the very impulse, you know, the, the slightest indication that there is a coyote in the area we'll make them stay away.

So that's helpful. 

Yucca: Hm. Yeah. 

Mark: So we talked about mints, another large family that has many, many useful plants in it are the salvias or the sages. And they're, some of those are considered sacred by various indigenous groups. Some of them are just culinary spices that we use to, you know, flavor our pasta sauce.

But if you have access to a variety of kinds of sages, those are really wonderful to hang up and dry because even in the, even in their dry state, they will perfume your air a little bit. You'll, you'll be able to smell the Sage on the air.

Yucca: They're, they're pretty dried and they can really beautiful in the garden too. That's another one that is a great, depending on your stage brightening, great for having an, a pot that you can take with you when you moved to your next apartment and are tougher to get. For, you know, there's, there are some plants that are really easy and finicky and others that are much more giving and sages tend to be on the forgiving 

Mark: They tend to be on the Hardy side, as long as you don't over-water them too much. They will get root rot if you consistently over-water them. But if you just over-water them once in a while, they'll perk up and be very happy and think they've been in a big rainstorm.

So other ways of preparing herbs are to make tinctures, which are usually in alcohol, 

Yucca: yeah. 

Mark: Not wood, alcohol grain, alcohol ethanol vodka is typically, you know, pretty useful for this purpose. If you want If you want very, very preservative solution, you can get ever clear, which is about 85% ethanol and 15% water.

It's the water content that leads to the deterioration. So that's, that's the thing to be, to be concerned about. But people swear by various kinds of tinctures for different kinds of ailments. And you can do your research and find out what those are. 

Yucca: And it's a use for all of those cool bottles you've been collected.

Mark: exactly.

Yucca: That's another one. Talk about the the stereotypical witchy. All those cool little shaped bottles and all of 

Mark: I have. So many of them have so many of them and a bunch of them are empty. So that sort of undermines the whole purpose. I should be filling them with herbs and tinctures.

Yucca: When dried a lot of dried things that you can from the garden you can dry and powder them and stick them in and you get, you know, beautiful you know, strawberries, for instance, if you have an overflow of strawberries, they dry and powder beautifully or carrots and things like that, or just, or powder herbs.

So if you don't have enough space and you dried all that mint, you can take that down and crush it and stick it near your jar. Now, the challenge though, is that the more light they get, the faster they go bad. 

Mark: right, right.

Yucca: there's a off to how pretty you want your kitchen and environment to be and how long you want your things to last.

But you're probably more likely to use them if you can. 

Mark: That's true too true too. So finally, we were going to talk about the use of herbs and plants in ritual.

Yucca: Yeah. uses. There's also your personal relationship and association with plants. For me, it often comes down to smell the really strong aromatic plants are the ones that I have the strongest emotional connection or association with. So the Juniper, pinyons, those are ones in the penny on here are our local pine has just a dope to me, delicious smelling staff.

I know for some people they don't like the smell of it, but for me, it's, it's the smell. Childhood freedom than wild, miss them, all of that. And that smell is just instantly, just instantly brings me to that sense of, of freedom. Right. And just a carefreeness. So I might use for my association, I might use that in a ritual.

when I'm really trying to bring that out. else might have a very, very different sense though. So we're not the folks who are going to prescribe to you use this or this herb means this and this plant means this, right. It really is going to depend on you and what's happening in your mind. 

Mark: Right. Right. What are your associations? For example, burning Oak leaves for me is this very autumnal, pastoral. It's kind of hard to describe, but it's, it's kind of nostalgic and it feels. It feels really good. It just, it feels really comforting. And I don't know, like if it's reminding me of a time, that was, that was really comfortable and wonderful, but I, I don't actually have a memory of that association with the two of them, but it's a still, you know, when, when I want to feel kind of comfortable and settled in my home, burning Oak leaves are often a way that I go,

Yucca: Do you make up, do you do it in a little bowl or do you take a single leaf and kind of play with the candle? 

Mark: I have an abalone still that I use for burning herbs. And what I do is I get a small piece of charcoal And then I can put the leaves on top of that so that they kind of smolder and smoke 

Yucca: Hmm, 

Mark: because otherwise, if they're dry enough, if you light them on fire, then they just go up and there's, that's the end of it.

And you've got a big sort of smoke ball in your room.

Yucca: which has its own appeal. What if you're right under the smoke detector or somewhere where it's dangerous. right?

So a reminder to people in fire areas, we are in buyer's season. So be cautious about that and responsible. 

Mark: Yes, please.

So I think to kind of wrap all this up the, the plant and fungus kingdoms are wonderful. They're filled with a very interesting and unique and special and cure eccentric and curious kinds of examples. The, and getting to know what your local plants are, is a way that you can become more connected with the planet itself and with the landscape that keeps you alive.

Yucca: And starting wherever you are, right. We're not saying to be a good pagan, you've gotta be able to name 250 plants from your area or anything like that, 

Mark: And you have to have plants hanging in your kitchen

Yucca: yes. That you harvested yourself under the full moon 

Mark: with a silver sickle.

Yucca: Yeah, no, if you're into that. Cool. But, but really it, you know, it might just be as simple as finding out, you know, what are the most common trees in your area, that tree that you notice, right?

What is that? I might just be starting there. It might be if that's the, that's what you got digging a little deeper, or just being aware and depending on your personality, maybe letting that come naturally, maybe you're a researcher and you want to get that book or join those groups. Many of us are looking for ways to reconnect with other humans right now.

That might be a great place to go with it. 

Mark: Okay. It could very well be.

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: So once again, this has ranged far and wide Yucca, but thank you for a wonderful conversation. I really, really always enjoy talking with you. 

Yucca: Thanks Mark.