Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Many at Galatia had been influenced by the “Judaizers, ” Jewish Christians, or at least Christians in name, who sought to be justified through keeping the Law of Moses. But Paul tells them that the true function of the Law was not to save but to be a “schoolmaster” or “teacher” to bring them to Christ. Once they saw the impossibility of keeping the Law and the great culpability of breaking it, they would see their need to be saved by faith alone.

Lord, that schoolmaster (your Law) that revealed our need of a Savior is still revealing to us our shortcomings. As love is the fulfilling of the Law, and to love God and neighbor is the sum of it, we see the Law is a helpful guide for Christian conduct. Use it to test us and show us our flaws, then turn us by grace to the keeping of it through love. Amen.

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

To remove the curse of God for breaking his Law from us, Jesus took our guilt upon himself and suffered that curse in our place. God cannot demand “double payment” for sin, so that he cannot justly condemn those whose sins were paid for in full on the cross. That is why there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

O Lamb of God, it is your blood that takes away the sin-debt of the world, even of every one who believes on your name. We could not bear the punishment of our sin, nor endure the day of God’s wrath against sin. We praise you for your work of love on the cross, where you redeemed us from the curse of the Law. Amen.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

It is in God’s design of things that children should grow up and leave the home. It is normal that they should go out and begin their own home. For our families to be strong and healthy, unlike the “fractured” if not broken families the world is so full of, husband and wife must remain in close, intimate union. And this union is a picture of the union between Christ and His Church.

God, help us to work at our relationships with others so that they will be all you intend them to be. Let my relationship with you be the foundation for a good relationship with spouse, children, parents, all family and friends, and every acquaintance. Amen.

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved; )

Perhaps the two sweetest words in the whole Bible are found here, “But God. ” In the verse just preceding, it is stated that believers were “children of wrath even as others” before their conversion. But God had a great love for them, which led him to “quicken, ” that is “raise to life, ” those who were dead spiritually. Paul then adds emphatically, “by grace you are saved. “

May we say with conviction, O Lord, that old Christian saying, “There, but for the grace of God, go I. ” May we recognize that it was your saving love that made the difference with us. We were dead to God, unable to respond properly to him. But your love laid hold on us, Lord, and you imparted to us life. And we know that yours is a love that “will not let us go.” Amen.

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

The Holy Spirit is here called the Spirit of Wisdom, using a grammatical construction that in the Greek indicates the Spirit is the “source of” or “giver of” wisdom. In 2 Timothy 3:15, we learn that the Scriptures are “able to make you wise unto salvation. ” When God opens our understanding to see the truth of the Gospel, he enlightens us and imparts to us wisdom to know and act on the truth. He then gives us hope of future glory and assures us of that hope by “the working of his mighty power” in us. That is the very power that raised up Jesus from the dead.

Open our minds more and more, we pray, to understand your truths. Let the “resurrection power” of God that raised Jesus Christ’s body from the grave raise up our spirits to live more and more a “resurrection life” of obedience to you. Amen.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

Faith is a gift from God, but it is also a thing that we are called to diligently work at and improve. In fact, these verses on diligence are further informed by verse 10 of the same chapter where our diligence is said to be the means of making “our calling and election sure. ” That is, when faith, virtue (moral fortitude), knowledge (gained through experience), self-control, patient endurance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love abound in our lives, it is fruit of righteousness that helps assure our hearts that indeed we are God’s children and will enter his everlasting kingdom (verse 11).

Lord, we take seriously your command to strive diligently after godliness and all Christian virtues in our daily walk. We know that you do not desire our faith to remain “alone, ” but that it should be accompanied by all Christian graces. We are encouraged to know that you will help us and guide us as we grow in all of these areas, step by step. Amen.

But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.

There will be days when you are tempted and days when you need protection, but you are a child of God. God will never leave you or forsake you – you will never have to walk through these challenging times alone. He is always faithful. He offers his protection and will help you stay away from evil. He has given you his Holy Spirit as a guide. Trust the Spirit to alert you when you have stumbled into trouble and call on him for protection.

Dear God, when I am fearful and need courage, I know you will strengthen me. You are always faithful and you will never leave me – thank you! Help me to trust you to guide me through difficult situations and protect me from any evil the evil one tries to use against me. O Lord, make my faith stronger so that I do not have a spirit of fear. Thank you for rescuing me time and time again. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Lord, I thank You for Your Spirit, who intercedes for me in my time of need. When I don’t know what to pray or how to pray, Your Spirit steps in and takes my petition directly to You. I am not left floundering for words and praying ineffectively. Your Spirit knows what I need and makes sure that my petition reaches You. Amen.

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

1 And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made. 4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven. 5 And no plant of the field was yet in the earth, and no herb of the field had yet sprung up; for Jehovah God had not caused it to rain upon the earth: and there was not a man to till the ground; 6 but there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. 7 And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. 8 And Jehovah God planted a garden eastward, in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground made Jehovah God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became four heads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12 and the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. 13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth in front of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. 15 And Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 16 And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. 18 And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him. 19 And out of the ground Jehovah God formed every beast of the field, and every bird of the heavens; and brought them unto the man to see what he would call them: and whatsoever the man called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 20 And the man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the heavens, and to every beast of the field; but for man there was not found a help meet for him. 21 And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: 22 and the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Moses is giving the Israelites his final teaching and advice before they enter the Promised Land. He is reminding them of all the blessings the Lord has bestowed on them from the time he rescued them from Egypt. Moses knows he will not be entering the Promised Land with them because he has displeased God. He also knows that it is important for them to remember these blessings so that they might remain faithful to the commandments. We know from reading Scripture that the Israelites did forget, did disobey, did not remain faithful to the commandments. Jesus commented that the Pharisees of his day obeyed the human laws more than God’s laws. What of us today? Do we keep the commandments? I have mentioned before, that many of us consider the commandments “suggestions” or commandments for only the time in which they were given. But think of the discord caused by dishonesty, greed and abuse of authority. Moses’ advice to the Israelites is just as true today as it was millennia ago. Following God’s law is just as important now as it was then. As we proceed through Lent, let us read again Moses’ address to the people in Deuteronomy.

This is not an easy commandment to live up to for any man. Any comparison to Jesus is one that we can never live up to, but should always be our goal. Love your wives as Jesus loved the church. She will certainly be a lucky woman!

Lord in Heaven, Jesus Christ, I am so lucky to be a member of your holy family. My only wish in this prayer is that I can create a family in your image, and love each member as you have loved me. Amen.

When we’re going through storms of life, hurricanes of emotion, and waves of wallowing, we need faith in God’s power in order to stay calm. God can still the storms and hush the hurricanes in our lives if we trust him and pour out our hearts to him.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Our human vocabularies are vast. Most adults know 20,000-35,000 words in their native language. Avid readers probably know substantially more. That’s a lot of words! But even with those vast vocabularies, there are moments when words elude us. Sometimes this happens when we pray. Sometimes our need is so great that we cannot find the words to express it in our own language. That is when the Holy Spirit steps in and intercedes for us. He searches our hearts and our minds and sees what we need. He translates that need directly to God, in a language that only God understands. In a sense, the Holy Spirit becomes a “code talker.” His transmission by-passes our human brain and his code–the “wordless groans”–is unintelligible to the Adversary. In this way, the Holy Spirit helps us when we don’t know how to help ourselves.

If we hang our hopes only on this temporary world, we are pitiful this world is full of disappointments. We are bound to be let down time and again when we place our hope only in this world that we live in. Everything on this earth will come to an end. Nothing here lasts. There has to be something more. Something greater than what we know in the here and now. Something that endures. There waits for us a hope greater than anything we know on this earth and that is the hope we find in Christ and in our place with Him in eternity. His resurrection has paved the way for our own. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain when we set our hopes on the world beyond this one.

Today, Christianity is divided. I’m not necessarily speaking about denominational differences because as long as a denomination is accurately presenting Jesus’ message of the Good News, there is no problem. The problem comes when people who call themselves “Christian” preach and teach a false gospel. Just as there were Jewish leaders who tried to challenge Jesus in his own time because they didn’t like what he was teaching, there are people today who don’t want to follow the totality of his message. We learn from Paul that there is “One Lord, One Faith and One Baptism, One Lord of All.” If this is true, then why do we consider one baptism more valid than another? If the Lord is Lord of all, then why do some claim to belong more to the Lord than others?

Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, chastises them for their divisions saying, “I am of Paul and I am of Apollos,” etc. Paul reminds them that if they were baptized into Christ, that should be the end of it. It doesn’t matter who led you to Christ, it’s more important that we came to him. Let us work together to help end a spirit of division among all of us who are blessed to be baptized into Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Lord, I know You have a plan for my life. Before I was even born, You knew me and made a plan for me. Help me follow Your plan and not my own. When I stray from the path You intended, help me to find my way back. When I am stubborn and want to have my own way, remind me of why Your way is best. Shut doors that I have no business walking through and open doors for me that You would have me enter. Thank You for taking care of me and setting me on a solid path for my life. Amen.

There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

Man is a fickle creature. It is not unusual for him to flit from plan to plan. Never really having a destination and changing with the wind. We see it even with people who root for professional football. One year they will start out as huge fans of a particular team. By mid season, when that team is no longer winning, they will begin to root for another team which has more wins. We change our minds on a whim. When we make plans in our own hearts, they are very changeable. When one dream gets too hard for us, we chase after another. When that one dead ends, we are off to yet a third endeavor. So it is with man’s plans. God’s plans are different. When God has a plan for us, it is steady. He knows the beginning and ending, as well as every bump on the road in between. So many people have left the path ordained for them by God only to wander from dream to dream and then to finally end up the path God had intended for them from the beginning. How much time would save if we just did it God’s way from the beginning? How much pain would we spare ourselves if we didn’t give in to our fickle nature? God’s plan will always be the best plan.

Dear God, it is easy to be enticed by the things of this world. When I am tempted by earthly goods or earthly status, remind me that they are not eternal. The only thing that is eternal is your love. Help me to do your will and to follow the path you’ve laid for me. Give me the courage to turn away from the things of this world and follow you with my whole heart. Thank you, O Lord, for the gift of eternal life. May I spend my days following you and serving you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

What can the world offer you that lasts? Nothing. Everything in this world will pass away. Therefore, it is hopeless to cling to material possessions or earthly status. In the end, none of these earthly things will matter. However, those who love God and do his will shall have eternal life. Rather than invest in earthly goods, invest in the Lord. Where your time and money are, there your heart will be. Spend your time and money investing in doing God’s will and you will never be separated from him.

Let’s read this again. It gives lie to the attitude present in Jesus’ time, and sometimes in our own, the children should bear the shame of a parent’s transgression or that the parent should be blamed if a child does something wrong. It also lets us know that there is always room to change the direction of our lives and that God will gladly welcome us back. We are not always as generous as God. Families can be ruined if a member is sent to prison. Parents can be blamed because a child turns to alcohol or drugs. The woman who suffers a miscarriage is often asked what she did to cause it. For a long time, anyone who was HIV positive was thought to be condemned, and isolated along with either parents or children – a modern day leper. In Jesus’ time it was the man born blind who was asked whose sin had caused it, his or his parents’. If we steal and are fired, that’s reasonable. If we steal and our children are fired, that’s not reasonable. If a child goes to jail, the parents need to be consoled, not blamed. Our sins are our own, our punishment is our own. At the same time, God waits. God doesn’t want to lose any of his children. He pursues us with his grace and gladly welcomes us when we repent and return. May we do the same.

Dear God,I come before You to lay my panic and anxiety at Your feet. When I’m crushed by my fears and worries, remind me of Your power and Your grace. Fill me with Your peace as I trust in You and You alone. I know I can’t beat this on my own, but I also know that I have You, Lord, and You have already paid the ultimate price to carry my burdens. For this I thank you, All of us struggle with anxiety and stress. For every person living on earth there are life situations outside of our control that lead to worry and fear. If you are in the middle of an especially stressful situation such as financial burdens, troubled relationships, or health issues, you know that it can become easy to let worry take over. This can lead to physical symptoms, insomnia, and more. We encourage you to memorize some Bible verses that overcome worries and stress so that you can speak to yourself, say it out loud, or write it out when you have an anxiety attack. Amen.

Support Our Enemies in Pray, Revenge Belongs to the Lord.

Prayer for your enemies is one of the deepest forms of love, because it means that you have to really want that something good happen to them. You might do nice things for your enemy without any genuine desire that things go well with them. But prayer for them is in the presence of God who knows your heart, and prayer is interceding with God on their behalf. It may be for their conversion. It may be for their repentance. It may be that they would be awakened to the enmity in their hearts. It may be that they will be stopped in their downward spiral of sin, even if it takes disease or calamity to do it. But the prayer Jesus has in mind here is always for their good. Our hearts should desire their salvation and desire their presence in heaven with us and desire their eternal happiness. May God give us grace to pray like the apostle Paul for the Jewish people, many of whom made life very hard for Paul.

Therefore, in view of Your mercy, transform me by renewing my mind with Your word. Cause me to see (name of person) as you see them, to have a heart of love for them as you love them to understand them through Your eyes and to have speech seasoned with wisdom when I speak to them. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

Father, Help me see myself as your workmanship, crafted on purpose with love by You. I am not less than. I am not worthless. I am a work of art that You chose to create and that makes me special. Amen.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

God made me and God don’t make no junk! This slogan found its way to t-shirts several years ago. It may not be grammatically correct, but it’s true, nonetheless. Paul tells us in this verse that we are God’s “workmanship”. We are made by His hands. We are not “accidents.” We are works of art, crafted by His loving hands. Therefore, we have value. Nothing can take that away from us. Ugly words, insults, snide remarks…they are meaningless in the face of the fact that we are His workmanship. If we could only truly believe that about ourselves, there wouldn’t be a bully anywhere with any kind of power over us.

Father in Heaven, You are the great teacher. You know all and You teach others Your truths. Help me to grow and mature into a good teacher of Your truth. Instill wisdom in me so that as I age others benefit from knowing me. Help me to have character that is worthy of Your calling and reflects Your holiness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

This is great advice for anyone, but here it is specifically given to older women. They are to have holy character reflecting Jesus. They are not supposed to drink too much or falsely accuse people. Lastly, they are to teach good things. It is interesting that older women are instructed to teach. Knowing they have a lot of wisdom, they are instructed to pass that wisdom on.

I find this passage interesting. Hate goes against God’s laws. God is love, so there is no hate in God. Even in the story of Cain and Abel, God marks Cain so that no one will kill him. So how can we hate? It’s okay not to like someone, we all do that, but hate implies that we wish someone evil. That’s not okay.

To love our neighbor means that we don’t wish him any evil. This doesn’t mean that we have to approve everything our neighbor does. No, not at all, in fact this passage tells us it’s okay to rebuke someone, even a friend or family member and not get involved in behavior contrary to God’s law. Going back to Cain and Abel, revenge is also contrary to God’s will for us. So much violence would be avoided if people didn’t seek revenge.

As I mentioned the other day, today, a person who feels disrespected often gathers friends to “get even” with that person. This leads to a larger group of friends getting even with the others and so on and so on. Feuds of this sort have become commonplace among many groups of young people as we have become such a “them” and “us” society. Some feuds seem to last one generation to the next and often people don’t even remember when the bad feelings began, nor do they know the cause. How do you want to be treated? How do I? If I want to be treated kindly, with respect, then it is my responsibility to treat others the same. It’s not always easy to love those we don’t like, but that’s what God not only expects of us, but commands.

God created both male and female in his image. From the beginning, he made both man and woman and caused them to fellowship with him and with each other in the garden. And God gave Eve to Adam to be his wife, and this was for a picture of the Church, the bride of Christ, whom the Father would give to the Son.

O Lord, we know you have created men and women both in your image and for your glory. You have given them each their proper strengths and roles. Some you call to serve you as singles, and devote fuller time to your kingdom. Others you call to marriage, and this is a picture of your love for your Church. May we all be content with the calling you have called us with.

God dwells in us as a result of His Love. How does He dwell in us? Through His Spirit. We have accepted the Spirit of God to reside in us and this means that we are subjected to his counsel and his guidance. We are not slaves to our selfish cravings or desires. We are now able to rise above them and live according to the way of the Spirit.

Dear God, I thank you that I am now one with you as a result of your Spirit living within me. Father I ask that I will always pay attention to your will for me and not what my selfish demands. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.

Everyone faces temptation every day. It may be something as unimportant as having an extra piece of candy, or skipping exercise, but it could be as serious as giving in to road rage, drinking too much, cheating, gambling, taking drugs, or – insert your favorite vice! Jesus was tempted to let us know that this is something we all must overcome. When you face a temptation, how do you respond? Jesus looked to scripture for the answer. The other day I was reminded of the old WWJD bracelets that young people wore to remind them of how we should act. A good question to ask ourselves – What would Jesus do? I have often said that the first commandment is one of the hardest to keep. “I am the Lord, your God. You shall not have strange gods before me.” Think you don’t have a problem with this one? Think again! Every time we put our needs before God, we set ourselves up as gods. Every time we choose pleasure, money, sports before God, we have created idols for ourselves. We believe that the Holy Spirit who lives within us will give us all the strength we need to overcome the temptations that come our way. But we need to listen to God, not to the music, movies or TV, to help form our consciences so that we know what is right and what is wrong. In other words, do as Jesus did and look to the Bible for our answers for how to live and we will be armed to fight the daily battle that is sure to come our way.

Joshua witnessed many mighty acts of the Lord as God led the Israelites through the desert with Moses. The people of Israel served the Lord while Joshua was alive and while others who had seen God’s works were alive. It is much easier to have faith when you witness things first or second hand. It’s harder when you believe without seeing. Jesus said that those who believe without seeing are blessed. Let’s have faith in our great God even though we have not seen.

Heavenly Father, You are great. Your character has never changed. You were the same yesterday and You will be the same tomorrow. I can always count on You. I have not seen Your face, but I have read of Your works throughout history. Make my faith stronger, and help me to believe. Have faith for me when I lack faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Indigenous History of Healing by Our Great Creator and Mother Earth!

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=ZkEoAwAAQBAJ

The Herbalist The pages of this blog are designed to give an insight into alternative sources of medicine from the perspective of the Native Americans. It must be important to note that about the Native American practices that are enumerated in this dossier of herbal plants and practices employed by the Native Americans in their preparation, we aim to respect the traditions that are carried over from each tribe of Native Americans whose practices have contributed to the overall lore that we now know of, in the use of herbal medications to augment our body’s ability to heal and counter the symptoms experienced from a myriad of various health conditions. For the first part of this book, we talk about the proper practices that are to be observed when one seeks to engage in the art of herbalism. It must be remembered that this book relates to the use of healing herbs in a Native American approach, and in deference to the various tribal customs that pertain to how these herbs are to be gathered and stored for use, their practices are to be maintained as one goes throughout the various steps outlined in this book. Chapter 2 is a compendium of the common herbs and plants that the Native Americans have deemed essential to the healing process, and which plants tribal lore has deemed as efficacious in the treatment of various afflictions in the body, and thus are commonly used by various Native American tribes in the treatment of diseases. An important tradition that must be mentioned is the importance of prayer before one begins to harvest the plant. In a metaphysical sense, you must be attuned to the plant before you pick it, in keeping with the cherished traditions of the people who have walked the land before us. A traditional rule observed is that one must not harvest from the plant that you have chosen to pray to. Native Americans believe that the plant that is the subject to your supplications as an herbalist is the means by which you maintain attunement with the rest of the native flora. Offerings must be made to nature: First to the earth, then to the sky, then to each of the four cardinal directions—whose importance we will tackle later on in this book, but general consensus provides that offerings should start from the east, then south, west, and north. The central part of the cardinal directions must also share the same honor and have offerings given to it. Cornmeal is an important part of the ritual, as this creates a transcendent connection between you and the spirits. Cornmeal is placed on the heads of the gatherers. Tradition must be observed, and thus, you never take more than what you need from the plant. It is taboo if you gather from the herbal grounds of another person, or another tribe, as these grounds have been passed on from generations before. Native American beliefs state that there are specific items of clothing that are to be worn as a symbol of respect towards the spirits of the plants. 1.1 Herb Gathering in the Wild One of the more prevalent practices used by herbalists is gathering herbs in the wild. However, due consideration must be given in how you select the site where the herbs you need are to be gathered. Because we utilize the approach of the Native Americans, it is also important that their traditions in how they gather specific herbs are observed. One of the established practices in herbalism is the use of Wildcrafting. Wildcrafting is defined as a tradition engaged in by herbalists throughout the world that centers on the harvest and promotion of the use of natural healing through the use of various plants. The practice of Wildcrafting is symbolic of the renaissance of the use of herbal remedies for the treatment of illnesses, and its vogue is reliant on the ability of these herbal remedies to heal the illnesses that tradition and lore have stated these plants to be effective for. The practice of wildcrafting, however, is easier said than done. For the uninitiated, numerous herbs can be obtained through this practice. Herbs gathered in this manner remain subject to overharvesting, where one takes too much of an herb in the wild that the plant may not be able to sufficiently recover from the amount harvested and subsequently withers and dies. If you can cultivate the herbs you need, then that would be a more economical and ecologically-friendly alternative that ensures that we do not affect any particular ecosystems where these herbs are found and that there is a sufficient quantity of herbs for others to gather as well. As animals are considered endangered, as well as other flowers and trees, it is reasonable enough for us to understand that there are some herbs that cannot be gathered at all as zealous herbalists have overharvested these herbs or the biome in which these herbs naturally flourish have been severely affected by a human intervention which has resulted in the destruction of their usual growing conditions. Contrary to the earlier promotion of herb cultivation, some plants cannot be cultivated at all, even in the most controlled environments, as these plants can flourish in the wild. Goldenseal and several varieties of Cohosh are among these herbs that remain popularly used by many and are best grown in the verdant woodlands where they best grow. Like how a chef would substitute ingredients for another, it is possible to use alternative herbs with the same curative properties in place of these wild herbs. The United Plant Savers website http://www.unitedplantsavers.org contains resources that would help you and other herbalists to help conserve these endangered herbs. Another danger that some of these herbs face results not from the excessive harvests made from the plant or the destruction of their native ecosystem, but because the continued use of these herbs creates a strain on a particular population, in that these herbs, which are usually utilized by a specific tribe, are exploited to such a degree that they are gathered in large quantities and sold to the highest bidder. This drives up the prices of the herbs, and, therefore, because the said tribe is unable to use the herb due to its exorbitant prices, they cease to use the herb or plant in their tribal practices. Some of these herbs and plants subjected to these treatments are of such high nutritive and curative value that modern marketing has labeled these foods as superfoods, and thus, a word of caution must be taken when you choose to purchase these types of food, as the people who have subsisted on them before, may no longer be able to use them, as they have become a prized, and overexploited commodity. Reasonable substitutions can be found for these foods, and though they are not as unusual as their foreign counterparts, they are of equal nutritive and curative value. If you are in for the discovery of wild herbs, there are certain practices that must be observed as you engage in wildcrafting; as it must be recalled, one wrong move can cause a cascade of effects that can affect the environment where these herbs grow. The Rocky Mountain Herbalists’ Coalition outlines certain ethical practices. 1.An endangered or threatened species should never be gathered. Consult your local botanical garden or herbarium for a list of these plants. The American Herbalist Guild may be contacted by mail for a more comprehensive list at AHG, Box 1683, Soquel, CA, 95073. 2.Positively identify the plant before you harvest. Identification keys and voucher specimens are to be used. 3.Ask permission and give thanks, acknowledge the connection to life and show your gratitude. 4.Grandparent plants- those that produce seeds and those that are sufficiently matured should be left where they are or at the top of an elevated area, where they would be able to seed the slopes of the elevated area. Work upwards. 5.If doubtful, you should not harvest more than 10% of the plant and its root if it is a native species, or 30% of a plant if it is a naturalized species or has native leaves and flowers. Gather the quantity you need from ample plants. Be conservative when you harvest to ensure that the plants are maintained, and the well-being of the plant ecosystem is assured. 1.2 Site Selection Certain steps must be undertaken before you harvest the herbs from a specific site. These steps are taken from the Rocky Mountain Herbalist’s Coalition. Get permission: On land that belongs to the US Bureau of Land Management, a permit for free use can be obtained with a minimal fee. Regulatory practices from the United States Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management provide that you cannot pick herbs in and around campsites and picnic areas. You cannot gather from areas that are within 200 ft of the trails, and you cannot gather from the sides of the road. Avoid areas that are situated downwind from pollution sites, stay 50 ft away from roadsides, areas with high tension electric wires (as these areas cause mutations in the plants around them), lawns and public parks that are fertilized, areas that are located downstream from mining and agricultural businesses, locations near parking lots, and areas you believed that might have been recently sprayed. There are areas maintained by the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Services through routine spraying. The same criteria are applicable to private land, where you will have to inquire about the use of herbicides and pesticides. Use discretion when you are in a fragile environment, as you can alter the ecosystem with one irresponsibly performed action. 1.3 Gardening and Propagation Techniques The techniques outlined by the Rocky Mountain Herbalists’ Coalition are designed to ensure that the wildcrafter exerts a minimal impact upon the ecosystem where these herbs are gathered. The use of proper wildcraft techniques ensures that the environmental impact of the wildcrafter is kept to a minimum; that the plants are able to optimize their yield and continue to serve as fodder for the local fauna. It is advisable that you do not harvest from the same plant all the time, but care for it when possible. Thinning, the practice of root division and top pinching ensures that there is an adequate supply of grandparent plants that would propagate the landscape and guard more immature plants. Awareness of erosion factors is essential as you dig up the roots of the plant. If you replant, and if you propagate the seeds. Care for the plants that grow on the hillsides, and cover up the leaves and replace the dirt from the plants already harvested. It may be necessary to gather nearby foliage and spread it around nearby plants. Avoid the use of shoes with hard soles, as these can inflict damage upon fragile ecosystems. If your main goal in harvesting is just the leaf, do not pull on the roots. Utilize flower pruning as a means to improve the quality of the root yield as well as increase the amount of leaves. Wildcrafted areas are subject to seasonal observations, and you should mind the plants from which you regularly harvest and consult with their expected growth cycles. This is the best means to know how much your actions have impacted the biome in which these plants grow. Observations from an experienced wildcrafter have shown that a healthy plant would see a 30% increase in its yield initially until such time that it remains in a static state. A lower yield rate would indicate that the plant is in a decline. 1.4 The Best Times to Gather Certain Herbs For the purposes of this discussion, it is important to note that in reference to the gathering of herbs; it is noted that this would include the other parts of a plant commonly used by the Native Americans, and is not limited to the leaves, but also to the roots as well as the bark. For the parts exposed to the air and above ground: The best time to gather these is in the morning from 6 am to 10 am, before the ambient temperature rises enough to wilt these parts. If you harvest the leaves of a plant, the leaves are at their best the period before a plant effloresces. If you gather the flowers, they are at their prime, just as their petals begin to fully bloom—this is identifiable if you are able to perceive the color of the bud. If the harvest is dependent on the moon cycle of Native American Tribes, these plant parts above ground are at their most potent during the period near or on the full moon. Roots are best harvested after the plant has dispersed its seeds and before the sun has touched the plant—early morning. For the roots of biennial plants, they are best harvested in the fall of their first year or spring of their second year of existence. Moon cycles dictate that these are at their prime in the new moon phase. The barks of trees are best harvested in the springtime or fall. Do NOT strip the bark from the tree. Take the whole tree. Tree thinning is considered a permissible practice when the tree is part of a large population. Be sure to leave trees that are the healthiest in the group. If only the bark from the smaller branches is required, take measures to ensure that the remainder of the tree is not susceptible to fungal rot. A practice with most bark usage is that the inner portion of the bark, called the cambium, is the part that is alive. Short trunks for the tree are left to be pollarded, and low stems are meant to be coppiced to ensure that others can harvest from the tree later on. In accordance with the moon cycle, barks are to be harvested on the three-quarter waning moon phase. Saps and pitches are liquid substances that are best harvested in the later parts of the winter season or in the early months of springtime. Seeds and fruit are best harvested when they have reached maturity, except for citrus fruits and certain plants. 1.5 The Preservation and Proper Storage of Herbs Central to the preparations that are listed in this book are herbs in their fresh, dried, and extracted states, as various environmental factors are able to affect the ability of the herb or plant to cure the illness it was harvested to treat. Subsequently, the herbalist must be familiar with the steps to properly store the herbs you have taken great care to harvest to ensure that you cure, not exacerbate, the illness you mean to treat. The drying process is best done in the period immediately once you have harvested the part of the plant that you need. As with ancient civilizations’ ancient food preservation techniques, the drying process ensures the prevention of spoilage and inhibition of bacterial growth upon the herb itself. Contrary to the ancient methods, the drying process takes place without direct exposure to sunlight in a place that is free from moisture and has sufficient air circulation. Additionally, the drying process that the herbs are subjected to ensures that the herbs’ potency as a curable substance remains intact. Several steps must be followed to ensure that your herbs are properly dried. Separate the leaves from the stems and spread them in a single layer. The leaves must NOT come into contact with each other. Heavier plants may be suspended from a line in a dry area, such as in a cellar or attic. Because the herbs at this point may retain some of their fragrance, they would need to be protected from insects that may infest the herbs as they dry. This is best done with the use of a cheesecloth covering over the drying herbs. There is no specific time outlined for how long each herb is to dry. The rule of thumb is that the shorter the drying period the herbs are subjected to, the better they are for medicinal uses. Most herbs take a week to dry out properly. The best way to adjudge if an herb is properly dried is if it still retains its scent yet is easily broken from its stem. If the dried herb crumbles with your touch, you have subjected the herb to an excessive drying period. If it is the roots of the herb that you wish to preserve with drying, the roots must be completely cleansed of any dirt attached to them. The general assumption is that roots take longer to dry than flowers and leaves and have an estimated drying period of 21 days. Roots may be cleansed with the use of a pressurized hose, and in some instances, the roots must be brushed by hand, especially if the plant has grown in soil with the consistency of clay. Heavy Roots that have no scent may be cut lengthwise for proper storage. Do not wash the leaves or the flowers of the herb that are to be dried. Simply shake them to loosen and remove any dirt that is attached to them or any bugs that may have remained upon them. If the amount of herbs and flowers are of a sufficient quantity, they may be gathered into a bundle, with a diameter of 1 and a half inches (3.81 cm). An alternate way to dry these leaves involves spreading them in a single layer on screens. If the bark of the plant is to be dried out, simply scrape off the outer portion of the bark, as the cambium, the inner layer is more important. This is a process referred to by herbalists as tossing. The safest means by which herbs can be stored, regardless of their form, is the use of the Mason jar. The Mason jar is an indispensable tool for the herbalist who wishes to store herbs in their fresh, dried, or extracted state. The Mason jar is a receptacle that is readily made and inexpensive to use for the storage of herbs. However, it does have one drawback: it lacks a tint to the glass. Suppose you have seen medications that have tinted bottles. In that case, you will know that this is important in medications, as exposure to light can potentially decrease the potency of the herbal medication. If there are no mason jars that have tints, it is more feasible to simply store the jar in a place where it cannot be exposed to sunlight. Dried herbs in a mason jar have a shelf-life of one to five years, while tinctures that are stored in such means can last up to a decade. The shelf-life of certain herbal preparations is dependent upon the type of preparation, as dried forms and tinctures, as earlier mentioned, can last for several years. Oils and salves, because of the nature of their composition, can easily become rancid, and thus, are best used within half a year to a year from their preparation. Lotions, should you have made these from the herbs, can only last for up to 3 months, but their longevity may be increased if you stick them in the refrigerator as these are products that are emulsified. Once the herbs are properly stored, it is important to remember to use them when possible. The best way to determine their usability is if the herbs still maintain their aroma and if they have not bleached away their color. Additional signs include the detection of their tastes. If you can still taste the herb, it is still potent enough. Additional rules include: 1. Avoid the exposure of herbs to light and excessive heat, as these can destroy the rather volatile aromatic compounds of the herbs, as well as other compounds that make the herb medicinal. Once the herbs are dried out, the use of food-grade plastic bags, fiber barrels, or other air-tight and water-tight receptacles helps preserve the potency of the herb for an extended period of time. 2. Always label the stored herbs with their dates and the location where they were harvested. 3. Remember that herbs that have been altered in the structure are less valuable compared to herbs whose structures are intact. 1.6 A Glossary of Herbal Preparations Herbs are a versatile form of medicine wherein they have numerous applications that can affect the body in various ways. The knowledge of herbal lore is an important aspect, even without the integration of Native American beliefs, as herbal preparations form part of the body of knowledge in Alternative Medicine. Though herbal remedies utilize the plant in its raw and unprocessed form, certain preparations must be performed by the herbalist, regardless of skill level, to extract the essences needed and make judicious use of the plant. These herbal preparations may take several forms, which include: 1.6.1 Infusions We commonly encounter this form of herbal preparation in the form of teas and tisanes. Often the simplest form of herbal preparation involves pouring water that was brought to a boil the herbs in either their fresh or dried forms. The usual parts of the plant that are made into teas are the leaves and the flowers (this may be seen in other forms of tea if you are a tea connoisseur). The usual ratios of infusion preparations are as follows: 1 teaspoon of the dried herb to a cup of water; 4 teaspoons of a fresh herb to a cup of water. 1.6.2 Decoctions They are a form of herbal preparation that involves immersing herbs in water brought to a gentle simmer or a full boil. This form of herbal preparation is designed to fully extract the pharmaceutical compounds that are present in the plant, specifically in its hardest parts: the bark, seeds, and roots. The rations for decoctions are 1 teaspoon of the dried herb to a cup of water; 4 teaspoons of a fresh herb to a cup of water. Simmer for five minutes, then strain the mixture before you use the preparation. 1.6.3 Percolations Similar to how one would operate a coffeemaker, the process of percolation involves the use of a medium, either water or a form of alcohol, that drips onto a mass of herbs—usually powdered in form. The ratios for a percolated solution are 100 ml of liquid that is dripped onto 10 grams of the powdered herb. Repeat this process if you would like to obtain a more concentrated product. 1.6.4 Tinctures The process of creating tinctures will be discussed at length later on as we delve into the basics in this chapter. Tinctures are alcohol-based preparations in which chopped herbs have been blended into. Alternatives are available to use in place of alcohol—cider vinegar and glycerin solutions are popular alternatives used by herbalists. Tinctures may be created in a blender. 1.6.5 Fomentation To create a fomentation, you must first create a decoction or infusion of the herbs you need to use. A piece of absorbent cloth is then dipped into the mixture, where you wrap the cloth around the injured area. Only use enough of the decoction or infusion to cover the area that was injured. Care must be taken as certain compounds, when used, may be skin irritants. 1.6.6 Poultices Fresh herbs are first pounded, then macerated. The herb mixture, which is now a sodden mass, is then placed over the injured body part. As with the fomentation, the quantity of the herbs made into a poultice is sufficient to cover the wound. 1.6.7 Powders They are herbal preparations that use the herb in its dried form, where the herb is subsequently pulverized. The herbs are transferred into capsules with a maximum weight of 1 gram in their powdered form. 1.6.8 Oils and Salves—Among the herbal preparations with the shortest shelf-life The oil is the medium where one prepares the herb, and its pharmaceutical compounds may be extracted into the oil. The oil is then thickened and made more viscous with the use of beeswax. Animal-based fats are more readily absorbable when compared to plant-based fats when you have to choose which medium you would like to use as a base for your herbal oils and salves.

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