autumn leaf portraits

he geese are flying south, honking across the sky!
fire in the woodstove 
soups and starches into the belly! 

autumn colors

this party is just beginning 


wrist 手腕

Here's my treatment progression for my wrist since I've been here at the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine

(the back-story is that I fractured my wrist seven years ago, went through a (failed) surgery last year to take out the metal inside, got cut open again due to infection, and am now dealing with arthritic-type pain, numbing and tingling in my palm and fingers, and scar tissue. I hope that this herbal protocol will help provide useful information for anyone undergoing similar issues. besides the listed protocols, I am also practicing yoga and physical therapy exercises daily, and have maintain an active lifestyle and whole foods vegetarian diet) 

initially, i rubbed my wrist morning and night with just castor (Ricinus communis)  oil
the thickness of the oil felt good to rub into my scar tissue, but didn't do much for nerve ennervation. it was warming and nice, and probably would have helped reduce scar tissue after some time. 

after my initial consultation with 7song, I changed to treatment with horse chestnut (aesculus hippocastanum) infused olive oil, with a dash of cayenne-infused oil, and essential oils of wintergreen and clary sage. 
horse chestnut helps improve venous tone. 
7song hoped that the horse chestnut oil would help improve circulation through my wrist, arm, and hand
he wanted to focus on reducing swelling in my fingers, and restoring sensation 

well, either the horse chestnut was helpful, or it was lymph drainage therapy
I had dinner with friends, including Karianna's mama, who is an occupational therapist. 
she performed lymph drainage (her own style of it) on my wrist, hand, and arm as we sat around talking after eating
I looked down after a while, and was surprised to see my fingers and wrist reduced to half their original size (swelling had reduced dramatically) 
after going home, and all the way until now, the effects from that treatment have mostly maintained (I also perform some basic lymph drainage on myself)

7song also suggested hydrotherapy: infusing my wrist/hand in alternating hot and cold water. but, it is inconvenient for me to do this living in my camp-like environment, so i haven't been using this treatment, though I imagine it would be helpful

I rubbed on arnica (Arnica montana), St Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum), and calendula (Calendula officinalis) infused in olive oil for about a month. 
this treatment smoothed out the top and bottom of the long scar quite a bit, so that now just the center is raised up with scar tissue

during the arnica- st johnswort- calendula treatment time, Larry also performed some therapeutic massage (Swedish, chigong, etc integrated modalities) that helped reduce tension and repattern my shoulder and wrist

I just changed to using castor oil, St johnswort (Hypericum perforatum), and vitamin E oil 
primarily to reduce scar tissue 
with the weather getting colder, I am also wearing a band around my wrist to keep it warm (otherwise it gets sore from the cold) 
will probably add cayenne (Capsicum annuum) back into the oil mix, to keep circulation flowing 
some future topical experiments/ treatment protocols I will try: 
comfrey leaf (Symphytum officinale), gotu kola (Centella asiatica), helichyrsum essential oil, cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum)

St johnswort as a creme has also been nourishing and helpful 

suggestions, input, etc welcome! 
thanks for reading 


What next?

(A summary first, for those who don't have time to read the whole thing: 
I finish my herbal apprenticeship in December, and am considering next steps. I am currently considering two possibilities: (1) massage school (2) graduate school studies in clinical somatic-psychology. What do you think about these ideas? Do you have other ideas? I want to continue my healthcare studies, and integrate my previous studies. Do you have suggestions for good schools? Do you know someone I can talk with about these fields? Have scholarship ideas? THANKS!) 
Love, Jiling
for my Chinese friends (English folks, you can skip this part): 
(念中文的朋友, 你們好!我學期快結束了。我在考錄下一步做什麼。 我想要繼續學治療技術。 有一天, 我想要住在小城外, 森林中或山上, 做某一種治療師和老師。 我現在在考錄學按摩(便按摩師,六個月的課程)或是去研究所學心理學(2-3年)。 你有什麼想法? 感恩) 
and now, for the long English version... 

Dear friends, 

I hope that this autumn Harvest Moon finds you happy, healthy, and thriving on all levels. Happy Moon Festival! 

It's been a while since my last email-update. I've been busy here in Ithaca studying herbal medicine with 7song (we work 6 days a week). (I am learning so much!) My apprenticeship finishes in December. I want to continue my studies. I am considering my next steps. I value your experiences and thoughts, and would love to hear your ideas and input! 

I want to continue my healthcare-related studies to help people lead healthy happy lives. And, I'm aiming toward (finally) settling down (where?) and creating a home (somewhere fitting)... which means, 
finding/creating a job/lifestyle that supports me financially/otherwise, effectively utilizes my innate/developing gifts/skills, and gives back to my community.  (Got ideas?) (Longterm Home ideas are also appreciated)

I also want to put the herbal/clinical knowledge and skills that I've learned this year into practice. I'm unsure what form that will take. 

I will continue teaching yoga and continuing running that thread as well. 

And, dancing. 

Now, the questions of where to, and what next. 

We just returned from our final fieldtrip of the year, to Equinox Botanicals in Ohio, a gorgeous herbal farm, neighboring a rare plants sanctuary. I'm super inspired right now (from this farm, and various other amazing places I've seen around the USA and Asia), to one day create a solid home somewhere on the edge of a progressive town and surrounded by forest or mountain... and cultivate longterm relationships with local plants and people. I would love to teach, and have a clinical practice too. 

Some possible next steps for me: 

Massage school. I am currently looking into the Arizona School of Integrated Studies (ASIS) and/or the Finger Lakes School of Massage (FLSM- in Ithaca, NY). I've been inspired by all the various massage therapists I've lived/worked/played with through the years, and have been contemplating this for a while. I But, I am unsure about whether my wrist would be an impediment to this work. I wonder about the long-term implications of working as a massage practitioner, on my own body. I wonder about practicing massage in Taiwan, too. (I would love to spend at least a month each year in Taiwan.) 

- Graduate school for somatic psychology. But, I am worried about the cost of going to school, and wonder whether I can really commit to school for 2-3 solid years. I don't like the idea of taking out loans. Know any schools with clinical psychology (preferably integrative/ alternative/ somatic) programs that have teaching assistantship, research, or other work-study/scholarship options? 

- Another school for studying herbal medicine? But I wonder about the receptivity to herbal medicine here in the USA, and know that it's difficult to make a living as an herbalist. I would prefer to have something more solid/accepted as my primary form of work, and weave herbalism into that. 

Acupuncture school? I keep going back to that idea but am primarily unsure, because I have bad memory and know that I would really struggle with memorizing all the necessary things to know for Chinese medicine. Also, I personally do not enjoy needles places into my body. But, I find it effective for other people, and am fascinated by it. 

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing your input! 
Enjoy the autumn. 
Oh, and I would love to hear your life updates as well. 


PS- And now for some freeform thoughts (aka. stream of consciousness- read or not... doesn't matter. I have too many thoughts, and here's some): 
- My climbing accident in 2006 really changed my life. I live with physical pain. It's a teacher, and indicator. After my second wrist surgery, the most helpful treatments have been herbal medicine and massage. That's partly why I studied herbal medicine this year. After experimenting with so many different healthcare modalities after my surgery, I came to realize that there is no "best" modality. What's best is for me to study and work with what works best for me, and what I personally just like best. Thus, herbs! I am considering massage as my next course of studies, partially because it was so helpful to me after my surgery. And why psychology? Because our minds are so complex and fascinating, and I want to better understand myself and others too, to know how to help best. 
- I've been exposed to a variety of clinics by now. Most colorfully coming to mind are these: the mobile clinic in the Himalayan villages with homeopathic doctor Spero sitting on the dirt floor surrounded by super tanned mountain folk with a variety of ailments; the acupuncture clinic of the old medicine woman in Kathmandu, Nepal with all tables filled with needled patients; my acupuncture teacher Zeng's backroom clinic with two tables always with patients and surrounded by students with notebooks; 7song's free clinic here in Ithaca, the little pink room with glass bottles of tinctures and plastic bags filled with dried herbs one patient at a time with our full attention; the hospitals with their white walls and stressed out staff; the big tarp shelter clinic at the Rainbow Gathering this year with dirty barefoot hurt people walking in; Teacher Wu's energy medicine chigong clinic in the middle of metropolitan Taichung with the constant drone of humming cupping pumps and people sitting around stuck full of needles and light night dancing chigong practice, energy work practitioner with arms weaving over rows of people lying on the ground; my friend and teacher Tofu's beautiful mountain clinic in the middle of his small but cute Taiwan home with his efficient herbal-needling-bodywork integrative techniques; Teacher Huang's two story Chinese medicine treatment center with clinic on the main floor and the biggest apothecary I've yet seen in the base floor... and on and on... not making a point about anything here. Just, filled with thoughts, inspiration, and gratitude. 

PPS- I haven't talked about it in this email, but you can read about it in my blog. Herb school this year has been amazing. I am learning so much about plant medicine, botany, the human body, clinical skills, etc. It's my first time in such a long focused program since college (8 years back), and I am adoring it. Thus, my desire for continued education. I will write more about herb school at some other point, but really I don't think I can sum it up. I've been trying to write weekly... now changed to monthly... in my blog, about what I am learning. Check it out, if you're interested! Pretty blog pictures, too. And now, back to autumn harvests. :) Be well! 

(photos of transition: (1) caterpillar crossing the road in Ohio (2) waxing moon, view from Ohio (3) one of my favorite mushroom friends in the forest, bursting free of the tree roots in front of my cabin door) 






上禮拜, 我們去Ohio州採草藥。 我們露營了一個禮拜在當地農夫Paul Strauss的湖邊。Paul 的農場叫Equinox Botanicals. 他特產珍惜和瀕危物種。 Paul也做 傳統Appalachian山(美國東部的老山脈) 的草藥, 和他自己創作的藥膏和藥酒。 Paul 的農場周圍都是森林。 他把邊緣的森林都買下來了, 來保護森林。 這兒就變成一個蠻有名的植物和森林保護地區, 叫做United Plants Savers Sanctuary. Paul 二十幾歲時, 就搬過來了。 他剛好碰到當地又有耐心又聰明的長輩來培訓他, 教他當地農業特殊技術。 他就留在這兒一輩子, 耕田, 培養特別的草藥, 做藥, 教課, 等。 他讓我感到也想要買一塊自己的地, 把它變成美麗的小天堂!














食物, 藥草,


冬天一來, 今年的藥草課程就要結束了。

















今晚, 坐在木屋旁邊吃湯麵,








轉變成春天的嫩芽, 鮮花


現在最後的轉變,要 回到冬天的平靜, 一片空白。


我感覺像我每到一個地方, 我就愛上那個地方和那裡的人。

在這兒, 我最愛的地點是我老師的家, 因為大部分的時間都在他那兒。 又平靜又美麗, 又有各式各樣的植物。 現在我寫信時, 我正在坐在老師的櫻花樹底下。 旁邊都是蘋果樹。 現在是蘋果季節。 沒幾分鐘, 聽到“噗通!”一聲, 又掉了一顆甜蜜的蘋果。 現在也聽到風聲, 鳥叫, 和小蟲聲。 現在, 太陽和月亮改變了它們天空中的地點了。昨晚, 我睡著以前, 月亮剛好照亮我的床頭。早上, 現在太陽也剛好照亮我的床頭, 把我的小木屋充滿它們的亮光, 不管白天晚上。 好美哦! 我特別喜歡清晨早上從樹林中看到對面的山, 欣賞太陽從山後慢慢的爬起來。


祝你好好享受秋天的收穫, 準備好冰冷的冬天!

敬, 基玲


(照片: 1 passiflora incarnate 花(幫想太多的人放鬆)(2)我和老師同學在Ohio州, Equinox Botanicals 農場 (3) 壓出來的藥酒, 和前面的藥草(hypericum perforatum) (幫助常常難過的人放鬆和開心,也幫助治療意外之後的恐懼


New Moon: yuan fen, rivers, moon, bodies, dances, recipes

"Yuan fen" (緣分) is one of my favorite words in Chinese. It translates (somewhat) as serendipity, synchronicity, or affinity. It's that magical invisible red thread of connection that binds me to you before we were even conceived, that line that ties my umbilical cord of past, present, and future destiny to the places, people, plants, and all else that composes my life.


"Heaven determined my Fate, but I choose my Destiny," said one of my first teachers. "It's all a choice," laughs Jeremy. We'd decided not to brave the cold river with our bare toes, walking upstream on the slippery rocks toward the place where the river turns, where we can't see anymore. Those unexplored places can wait.


On the edge of the waterfall, Dave and I decided to walk across that river, rushing and tumbling down towards the bottom of Ithaca Falls. Walking against the current, he quickly slips and slides his way across to the opposite bank, skiing across the slippery stone with arms akimbo. I slowly move across, thinking of the slow Tai Chi practitioners weaving their arms and legs with intention and chi through the invisible air currents, with grace and precision, bodies relaxed yet strong. We move across the river in completely different ways, one slow yet steady and calculated, the other quick yet a little messy. Both successful. Metaphors?


My new intention is to write an English blog post with each new moon, and a Chinese blog/ letter with each full moon. Dear reader, I hope you enjoy. And please, always, give me feedback. Thank you.


"What's the difference between the full moon and new moon?" asked my sister. This is for you, Ah Mei. During the new moon, we don't see any moon at all. It's completely a new beginning. These are the darkest nights, when the stars are brightest, a fitting time to plant bright intentions for the coming moon. From here, the moon waxes or grows day by day, and our seeded intentions sprout and grow, until the moon is absolutely full again. The full moon, pregnant with gifts, and bright with light, is a great time to give thanks for all that we are grateful for, and go on moonlit hikes, have celebrations with friends, and more. From here, the moon wanes or shrinks night by night, back into the darkness of the new moon.


In the olden days, when we lived outdoors and our bodies were connected with the rhythms of the moon, women would often bleed in sync with the moon. We would bleed with the new moon, and feel the exultant heat of ovulation with the full moon.


I am feeling grateful for my sisters. We started a weekly dance project, where we come together to share songs, visions, and exploratory dances. We just began, and already, I feel my heart aching and breaking wide open, and filling with love and gratitude.


"Let's experiment," I said to Dave, practicing yoga outside of my cabin as the sun dispelled the mist over the fields, through the trees, "I've never tried this before, but have always wanted to." And thus was born Yoga Exchange, where one person leads an asana/ movement, and then the next person leads the next asana… and on and on like so. It births many new asana sequences that just might get traditional yogis rolling in their graves, but got me inspired with fresh ideas and full delight.


"Core, move from your core," said Larry. And I remember Teacher Wu at NTNU, showing us how to move from our two places of core power: our Heart, and our Dan Tian (solar plexus). "And move as if you have eyes in your palms, and on the bottoms of your feet," added Teacher Wu. He taught us how to fly, how to use our weight like a pendulum, dancing with gravity like a lover. I'm practicing leg lifts, boat pose (navasana), bridge pose (setu bandhasana), and posting regularly again, to cultivate core strength. Simple asanas like mountain pose (tadasana) and down dog (adho mukha svanasana) reveal my imbalances and tendencies: a slight pelvic tilt (minor lordosis), and leg muscles that angle in different directions. "Posting" is a basic practice that I learned from Mauro (who learned it from Rinpoche) at an underground Tibetan Buddhist sanctuary where we nourished our chi and cultivated our innate ability to be amazing human beings. Posting: feet are wide apart and slightly bent in horse stance (the wider the stance and the deeper the bended knees, the more difficult the pose), arms are rounded in front of you, hands slightly cupped and open in front of your heart. Relax into this pose… you'll be here for a while. Stay here from 15 to 30 minutes everyday. With deep breaths, enjoy the burning, shaking, sweating, and grounding sensations.


Ecstatic dance. Basically the music plays, and you surrender to it in ecstasy. Dance. And thus began a month of big red giant (fast burning star) dances with a stranger turned adventure companion.


Contact improv. I give you my weight. We share it. You give me yours. I take it and translate it into something else. We roll across each other, flipping and spiraling across the floor. You pull me up from the floor, translating my weight back down into the earth. I fly upward, in response, laughing in surprise at the momentum and sheer freedom of weight, released, returning back to the ground in a sideways tilted angle, surprised yet delighted to catch another person on the way down with my spine. I surrender my spine to their shoulder, contouring my curves against their body as we all coalesce together, jellyfish-like, interweaving across the studio space, expanding outward and contracting back in again like a giant communal breathing apparatus, or a swirling supernova, until an explosion occurs, and off we go dancing back into pairs and trios again, at times slow and earthy, other times airborne and explosive.


I'll leave you with some autumnal recipes that I've been experimenting with.


Fire cider (from Cali)

Chop finely and then infuse into raw apple cider vinegar: onion, garlic, horseradish, ginger, cayenne/ other fresh peppers. Optional: turmeric, burdock, osha, usnea, sage, etc. Let infuse for 2 months. Take as a heating tonic/ immune stimulant during the cold winter months.


Sauerkraut (from Abbe)

1.       Chop/ grate cabbage finely into a large bowl.

2.       Massage salt into the cabbage, adding 1 T salt at a time. Add 2 T of salt per head of cabbage. This will release the cabbage juices. Keep massaging it to break down the cell walls, until there seems to be enough liquid released to cover all the solids.

3.       You can add anything… onions, garlic, turmeric, various wild roots, etc.

4.       Stuff it all into a clean glass jar. Submerge it under its' own juices, with a stone or glass jar to push down the plant matter below the juices. (Some people add water if there's not enough liquid, but I was taught to massage it enough for its own juices to do the job- tastes better like this)

5.       Cover with cloth, and let sit for a week.

6.       Enjoy!


Honey infusions (from Lucy)

1.       Fill glass jar with fresh plant material of your choice. Thus far this season, I have made honey infusions (each separate) with rose, bee balm, tulsi, and mint.

2.       Fill over the plant material with honey.

3.       Use chopstick to press out all the air bubbles.

4.       Let sit for as long as you wish. You can start indulging on your honey infusion within 2 weeks.

5.       Enjoy the deliciousness.


"Might as well make the medicine delicious," said Meredith. "I like my medicine strong," said Cali. "Let my lessons be gentle yet powerful," said Efan and I, as we prayed to each other and the Sky, Universe, and all that was listening, watching heart-shaped clouds rolling through the sky, with our bellies empty, preparing for Vision Quest. 


summer's end

Summer’s end. Life is but a dream. 
Reflections: relations. 
I know you. I know these hands, these eyes. 
I see you. 
We have seen each other through years, months, days. 
Love partners have come and gone, and we keep saying hello and goodbye to each other
And each fresh landscape that we pass through, make love with, 
Make Home 
Pass on 
Hello and goodbye 
Forever and anon 
The falling leaves 
That decay into winter whiteness 
Composting through death
Into the blossoming spring 
Ecstatic summer 
And now, 
Celebratory autumn harvests 

My cabin smells like mold and wetness 
Perpetual rain here in the northeast
I think of California and the desert southwest 
And I crave the dry air, big sky, and towering mountains 
There is a place called Home 
And it lies within 
But I want to create something 

I light candles with you
And we read our fortunes 
Giggling over beautiful tarot images
Asking profound yet profane questions about our love lives 
To ancient spirits spiraling through our fingers and tongues 
As we surrender ourselves 
To the unknown yet known 
It all lies within
And we know the answers already 
Even as we choose the cards
With questions lodged deep in our minds 
We know
Already, we know 
The cards confirm our knowing 
And we smile and nod 
Sipping tea and looking into each others’ eyes across the firelight
Sitting on the piney blanket on the floor of my cabin 
Surrounded by all the beauty that I have created in this small ramshackle cabin 
Cleared of mouse poop and old mold 
This Home of a year 

I enjoy this laughter
The unchained freedom of old friendship and unconditional understanding
Borne of years of knowing each other
Though mostly apart
Yet together
I can tease you, 
Knowing all your shadowy and light bits 
Like the interplay of sunlight filtering through forest leaves 
You are mysterious, complex, beautiful, complete
We hike fast, eyes in wide angle vision to catch every snowy rocky gorgeous nuance of the alpine landscape surrounding us 
Summiting the highest mountain of my childhood 
The mountain I stared at everyday of my childhood 
As far back as I can remember
Watching the snow shifting on the mountain peak 
And now, climbing it 
You who know me 
We laugh at each other 
Practicing yoga in the most beautiful places
Bowing before the old pine next to my cabin 
Bowing before each other
Bowing to the swampy majesty of a summer’s worth of weeds gone wild 
All the bugs singing their final summer love songs to the blue sky 
As it turns grey with rainclouds 
Thunder rolls 
And I jump on the trampoline in the darkness of the night
Watching the flashing lightning 
And laughing as 
Raindrops hit my face 
And I know 
I know that 
This life is but a dream 
Life is too quick to waste time 
Every step I take is meaningful
As meaningful and delightful as I can make it 
I am sculpting my future as beautifully as I can 
While manifesting my dreams
With each conscious step 
Each leap on the trampoline 
Each bow before every trembling grass blade and lightning bolt 
As all the mossy knolls we barefoot boogie upon 
Is simultaneously crushed by our weight
As we disperse their seedy spores
Back into the glowing soil
Of infinite

Looking into your eyes
Your gnarled old hands holding mine
I cry 
I don’t want you to see my tears
To know my fear 
My sadness at parting ways 
Not knowing when I will return again 
Life could end for you soon 
You are old 
Life could end for me soon 
I am young, but life is unpredictable 
Our eyes are interlocked 
Our lives, intertwined 
I cry 
Tears of joy, sadness, 

I watch you as you walk away 
And you watch me as well 
Our eyes catch one final time 
See you in dream time 

In dreams, you are the wise one
You are the elder
You are the trickster 
The lover 
The adventurer 
You who come in many forms 
You mirror my Self 
I wake, embracing the memory of your Being in my Dream 
Then realizing I am just embracing 
My Self 

I step out the door
Surrendering my senses to sweet summery flower perfumes 
I stand, stunned
I have watched this landscape 
From death to life, 
And now slowly transitioning back to death once more 
At the height of abundance, 
Fruit falling from trees, 
Goldenrod taller than me, 
This is summer’s end 
And death is around the corner 

Compass pointing north
Self reflected in the Sky
Am I going next? 

I feel 
Heartbeat rhymatics 
Slow dancing 
Waltzing with wind 
Bare feet gripping forest floor leaves
Swooping down into low balances 
Body arcing with tree limbs
Arms following eyes 
As I follow the treeline
The dancing squirrel 
As he darts about, gathering nuts 
Wave-like spine, undulating 
We pull and twist each other 
Laughing as I fall, rolling back to standing
Leaping and diving through the air 
You surprise me 
Tossing me out just far enough 
That I loop back 
Like a planet within the sun’s orbit
Our hips bump into each other 
Bone against bone, 
Muscles contracting and releasing 
Music carrying energies higher and further
I close my eyes and can see the lines of connection, lines of motion, lines of music 
The same line that the squirrel invisibly darts through the forest 
The same invisible line that connects us across the ocean and through the center of the world 
Taiwan, India, USA… 
All these little intersecting lines 
I open my arms, 
Billow out my chest, 
Release my heart,
Surrender my feet,
Raise my head, 
Extend my spine, 
Look up,
Eyes wide open,
And smile at the Sky, 
Feet firmly grounded into Earth, 
Mountain pose
I bow