Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


“Lesson Four”

In the online class I am taking on herbalism, lesson 4 is about the actual process of growing herbs.   The assignment was to write two hundred words about the benefits of growing herbs, and cite an example of how I plant herbs from seeds.  I don’t think my response is what the instructor has in mind, but it’s the truth and I’m sticking to it.

Lesson Four:  Benefits of Herb Gardening

All one needs to do is google “benefits of growing herbs” to see a list.   The benefits are all fairly ordinary:    economy, taste, health benefits.

I am all for saving money, eating tasty food, and achieving good health.   For example, rather than paying two dollars for a bunch of rosemary that will most likely be thrown out after I chop off my two tablespoons, I can just go out and snip off a couple of sprigs.  Even though dried herbs are stronger tasting, there is a “brightness” that fresh-cut herbs, like basil or parsley, can add to a dish.   And nothing is more soothing to me than cup of lemon balm tea after a stress-filled day.

For me, there is another, more intangible reason for growing my own garden – and not just herbs, but flowers and vegetables too.   The reason is that I am an urbanite without much access to nature.  Watching my mint and yerba buena overflow their pots to reach towards the sun helps me feel the power and dynamism that all living things share.  To use a cliche’, my garden helps me to get in touch with nature.

I have to admit that I have not had much success in growing herbs from seeds. Also, I am fairly impatient and growing herbs from seeds is a process that does not move at a rapid pace.  My current garden is mostly comprised of plants from the local garden center, but by watching my plants thrive, I am encouraged to try again.   Dill is a favorite herb of mine and I just realized that I don’t have that plant in my collection.  So sometime soon I will get some dill seeds and sow.   Again, I will be enjoying the intangible benefit of watching life germinate from lifelessness.

How awesome is that?







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Knowledge of the Ancients

I remember that once, when I was very young, I had an earache and a family member blew cigarette smoke in my ear to alleviate the pain. I don’t remember if it worked or not. In retrospect, this act seems bizarre,  and I am somewhat skeptical of its effectiveness. I also remember that whenever someone in the family had severe body aches, a liberal quantity of foul-smelling “liniment” was applied to that person. Since I don’t recollect ever seeing a television ad for this product, I did a little research and found out that “liniment” is the name of any herbal infusion or tincture used as a topical remedy for pain.

No, we did not live in some remote cabin in the woods. We lived in the suburbs. And we did take regular medicines, and, as needed, we did go to medical doctors. Nevertheless, these quirky folk remedies occasionally were employed.

More recently, an older family member mentioned that a great-grandfather of mine did “water-witching”. This is the act of finding water using dowsing rods. Another family member said that was nonsense, that my great-grandfather was not a dowser, but had in fact only hired a dowser to find a place to sink a well — which I guess was not nonsense.

Anyway, my point in mentioning all this is that there was a time when such folk ways were the norm. No one thought they were “paranormal,” “New Age,” “magickal,” “earth-based,” “of the devil” or “alternative.” Folk-ways were a part of a world view that for the people of the time were normal and effective.  It was just the way things were.

As a city girl, born and raised, I have been for the most part cut off from this heritage. I’m never going to need to dowse for water (I’ll call a plumber) or have someone blow smoke in my ear (I’ll take an antibiotic). But I can see the benefit of returning to the use herbs, healthy food, exercise and fresh air to maintain good health. I can see the wisdom of joining the ancient folk medicines of Europe and Indigenous America with that of traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic health practices.  They are cheaper and gentler on the body in many cases–though I will still go to the hospital if I feel like I am having a heart-attack.

These ancient ways were typically handed down from mothers to daughters, or from sages to their students. Typically the teachers would find the most teachable student in the family and bestow this knowledge to the next generation.

Maybe my vague recollections of these ancient practices and my current study and application of these practices is a way in which this knowledge is being bestowed upon me.

Postscript:  After I wrote this, I found this Ted Talk.  The scholar echoes what I am trying to say here:.


ljgloyd (c) 2018

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Mistress Moon

When I went on my walk this morning, I looked up and beheld Luna’s baleful eye gazing down on me. It was ominous. It was creepy. It was oh-so-cool.

If you do a google search for “moon”, you will get back 347 million results. The results range for this morning’s rare occurrence, to songs and stories about her, to her effects on tides, to her as a theme for a popular video gaming system.

She is everywhere in our cultures.

Luna is part of our past through our legends and mythologies.

She is with us in our present. Scientists will tell us that the moon has absolutely no effect on human behavior or psychology , yet many of us believe it does.   Furthermore, she is a part of inner-most selves.  Some in the psychological field see the moon as a symbol of the unconscious, the feminine principle in our psyches, and even representative of our “shadow” selves.

The moon, according to some, is even a part of our future. She is a part of prophecy.

It would seem that Mistress Moon serves as a conveyor of all that is human.


Text and image: ljgloyd (c) 2018