Botanica Erotica (lube class handout)

Botanica Erotica
Slippery herbal unguents for female sexual health and pleasure
 Jiling Lin - 2015 - www.LinJiling.blogspot.com

(Note: This handout combines info from sweet medicine, oils, and aphrodisiacs classes. Just skip over what you know already... and move on to the juicy bits. Enjoy!)

Lube Options
- Water-based lubes (safe, but may need reapplication)
- Silicone-based lubes (unsafe with silicone devices)
- Oil-based lubes (lasts longest, but deteriorates latex)

Water- based lube suggestions
- Aloe vera gel
- Demulcent teas
- Flax seed decoction

Oil-based lube suggestions
See “Oils and Salves” section


Herbal Lube Considerations

Elm                                          Mallow
Oats                                         Chickweed

Vulnerary (skin healing)
Comfrey                                    Calendula
St. Johnswort                           Roses
Chickweed                                Plantain
Gotu kola

Yarrow                                        Mugwort
Wormwood                                Artemisia spp.

Estrogenic (not for pregnancy)
Wild yam                                 Black cohosh

Aphrodisiac, and other Actions/ Considerations
(See next section)


(Experiment, explore, enjoy!)

Chickweed                             Elm
Milky Oats                             Marshmallow
Violets                                     Maca
Nettles                                    Red Clover
Burdock                                 Raspberry leaf

Tulsi                                          Ashwagandha
Astragalus                                Licorice
Ginseng                                    Eleuthero
Shatavari                                 Schizandra
Mushrooms (Reishi, Maitake, Shitaki, etc)

Warming Stimulant
Cacao                                             Cayenne
Cinnamon                                     Dang gui
Ginger                                           Cardamon

Aromatic Relaxant
Damiana                                       Jasmine
Rose                                              Vanilla

Hawthorne                                 Lemon Balm
Motherwort                                Kava Kava
Skullcap                                      Passionflower

Sends blood to genitals (use with care)
Muira puama                                 Horny goat weed

Female Sexual tonic
Dang gui                                     White poeny
He shou wu                                 Shatavari

Fruits/ Berries
Goji                                                Jujube
Cranberry                                     Strawberry

Essential Oils
Sandalwood                                Vetiver
Ylang ylang                                 Patchouli
Rose otto                                    Jasmine

Turn it Red
Add 1 tsp Alkanet powder, per 1 C oil

Other Considerations
Lifestyle (ie. diet, exercise, breath, hydration)
Relationship (ie. connection, goals, trauma)
Setting (ie. candles,incense,ceremony,massage)
Pregnancy (ie. communication, choice, safety)
Flower essences (ie. Bach, Mimi Kamp, etc)
Other oils (ie. Jojoba, Almond, Avocado, Olive)


Making Oil Infusions and Salves

Oil Infusions

Oil Infusion Methods
- Long/ slow infusion (2 weeks)
- Solar/ Lunar infusion (can do with slow infusion)
- Hot infusion (faster. For mucilaginous, or thicker plant materials ie. Barks, roots, and seeds)
- Crock pot (on low, 2-12 hrs)
- Stove top/ Double boiler (1/2- 1 hr)
- Oven extraction (120 F, 8-12 hrs)

Making Oil Infusions: folk method
1. Prepare the plant. Collect fresh plants. Depending on the plant and your preferences/ access, you will use it fresh, freshly wilted, fresh dried, or dried.
2. Process the plant. Chop it into small pieces. The smaller the better, to expose more surface area to oil. If using dried plant materials, you can even powderize the plant, though I find that difficult to strain afterwards.
3. Fill a glass jar with your prepared plant material. Leave two inches at the top. Pack the jar so that it’s firm, but not tight.
4. Fill the glass jar again with oil. Completely cover the plant material. Poke it all with a stick, to release any air bubbles.
5. Cap, and use your desired oil infusion method (see above).
6. When finished infusing, strain out the plant material, and rebottle your remaining infused oil. I like to keep old natural-fiber clothing, and cut it into squares to place over containers as strainers, then just throw away the cloth afterwards.
7. If you infused a plant with higher water content, then let sit for 2-4 days. Any remaining water from the plant will sink to the bottom. Pour off oil from the top, to separate that from the watery mix. Use the watery oil up first, separately. The “pure” oil will last longer.
8. Label, and store in a cool, dry, dark place.

Oils to Infuse into
(Other oils may work, too)

Heavier oils:
- Olive oil
- Jojoba oil
- Sesame oil (raw)

Lighter oils:
- Almond oil
- Apricot kernel oil
- Grapeseed oil

Solid at room temperature:
- Coconut oil
- Animal fat

(Note comodogenic vs. non-comodogenic oils, for sensitive skin types)

Oils/ Waxes to add
- Cocoa butter
- Shea butter

- Avocado oil
- Argan oil
- Castor oil

Antioxidant oils:
- Rosehip seed oil
- Carrot seed oil
- Evening primrose oil
- Vitamin E oil

- Beeswax
- Carnauba wax (from the Brazilian palm tree)


Salve Proportions
Adding more wax creates a harder salve; adding less wax creates a softer salve. Experiment with what consistency you like.
1 oz wax (weight): 4-8 oz oil (volume)

Making Salves
1. Prepare your oils. Measure out how much salve you want to make, and blend our oil infusions and other oils accordingly. Pour into a glass jar with a pouring spout (I love beakers), and place into a metal pot. Fill water around your glass jar, to create a double boiler.
2. Heat it up.
3. Add wax, at your chosen proportions. It’s easiest to have pre-grated beeswax, and a dedicated grater just for beeswax.
4. Mix it with a spoon. Take out a small amount on the spoon and put into the freezer, to test its consistency texture. Modify as necessary, adding small amounts of wax or oil, until satisfied. It’s easier to slowly add more wax, instead of oil.
5. Once ready, remove it from the stovetop. If you want to add vitamin E or essential oils, then let it cool a little bit, then stir it in at the end, before it solidifies. The essential oils can explode, if the temperature is too high.
6. Pour into the awaiting jars.
7. Let cool. You might have to top off the salve as it dries, as it can create a funnel in the middle of the salve, as it dries.
8. Cap and label.
9. Store in cool areas. Enjoy!


Some Lube Recipe Ideas

Basic Vag Salve
1/4 C liquid oil ((ie. jojoba, almond, olive, or infused oils)
1/2 C cocoa butter
1/2 C coconut oil
1 T vitamin E oil
2 tsp beeswax
1 tsp lanolin
(optional) essential oils (ie. Lavender, rose otto, rose geranium, chamomile, sandalwood)

Flax Seed Decoction
- 1 T flax seeds
- 1 C water
Boil, then simmer on low heat for ~20 minutes, until it’s reduced by half. Strain, and it’s ready to use! Can store in the fridge for 2 months.

Yoni Butter (aphrodisiac/ lube, by Aviva Romm)
- ½ C cocoa butter
- ½ C coconut oil
- 4 oz unsweetened dark chocolate
- 2 T marshmallow root powder (or slippery elm root powder)
- ¼ tsp lavender essential oil (or other essential oil)

Ride and Glide (a nourishing lube, by Margi Flint)
- 0.8 oz grated beeswax
- ¼ C infused oil (with black cohosh, comfrey root, calendula, wild yam)
- ¼ C coconut oil
Combine and heat the above ingredients, then add:
- 1 T wheat germ oil
- 1 T vitamin E oil
- 1 tsp emulsified vitamin A
- essential oils of 30 drops lavender, 30 drops rose geranium, 10 drops rose otto

Coconut oil suppositories
Coconut oil with your choice of other oils (ie. Jojoba, vitamin E, wheat germ, evening primrose, borage, black currant seed oil). Warm and mix the oils together, then freeze in ice trays to harden. Cut each cube into 2-3 sticks. Use a stick before sex or before sleep.

Herbal ointment (a post-menopausal possibility, by Rosemary Gladstar- in equal parts)
Oil infusions, with:
- Comfrey leaf and root
- St. Jonswort
- Calendula
Heat oils, then add grated beeswax (1/4 C beeswax for each C oil), until beeswax melts.
(Optional: vitamin E, cocoa butter, coconut, etc. oils)



Making Chocolate from Scratch
¼ C cocoa butter                 4 T cocoa powder
2 T sweetener                                 ¼ tsp vanilla extract

1. Melt cocoa butter in double boiler on low heat.
2. Stir in cocoa powder.
3. Add sweetener/ vanilla.
4. Add herbs/ nuts/ seeds/ fruits/ etc. (Optional)
5. Pour into molds.
6. When solid, release from molds… and enjoy!

Using Existing Chocolate
1. Melt the chocolate.
2. Add in what you want. Here’s options:
- Add in nuts, berries, solid/ powdered herbs/ tinctures/ sweet preparations, let resolidify.
- Layer herbs (infused into sweet menstruua) onto melted chocolate that has solidified a bit. The herbs can be swirled in lightly, or completely mixed in.
- Use marc from coconut oil infusion to make chocolate. 1 Coconut oil marc : 1 Chocolate. Melt together, and mix. (ex: rose petal marc). Can also use herbally infused coconut oil.
3. Mix thoroughly, and let resolidify. (Optional: If you have molds, such as ice cube trays, then you can pour into them, and skip the next step.)
4. Score or cut in desired shapes, once chocolate is hard enough to hold its shape.
5. Let dry slowly and completely. Do not refrigerate, as elements of the chocolate may separate.
6. Enjoy.


Flying Ointment
(Note: use only under the guidance of a trained herbalist, in small quantities, and well monitored. Not for recreational use.)

Traditional plants:
- Belladonna (Atropa belladonna)
- Datura (Datura stramonium)
- Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger)
- Mandrake (Mandragora officinarum)

Traditionally used poisons (do not use):
- Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum)
- Death hemlock (Conium spp.)
- Monkshood (Aconitum spp.)
- Foxglove (Digitalis spp.)

Other considerations:
- Poplar buds (Populus spp.)
- Calamus root (Acorus calamus)
- Cannabis (Cannabis spp.)
- Sages (Artemisia spp.)
- Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
- Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)


Other Considerations

Ingredients to Avoid in Commercial Lubes
benzene derivatives (sodium benzoate, methyl, ethyl, propylparaben, benzoate of soda, boric acid), propylene glycol, parabens, salicylates, anammic aldehyde, synthetic fragrances, glycerine (for irritation/infection-prone folks)

Food as Medicine
- Essential fatty acids (from fish, olive oil, hemp, flax, walnut, almonds, dark leafy greens, whole grain foods)
- Seaweed (and other iron sources)
- Healthy fats (unsaturated fats, only)
- Phytoestrogenic foods (ie. Soy, beans, flax, etc)




Some simple aphrodisiac recipes

My oils/ salves class handout

My sweet medicine class handout 

Past "Botanica Erotica" and "Botanica Aphrodisiaca" class handouts

Flying ointment

Book suggestions
“Herbal Healing for Women,” by Rosemary Gladstar
“Anatomy of Arousal,” by Sheri Winston
“Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health,” by Aviva Romm


Sweet Medicine (class handout)

Sweet Medicine (Class handout)
Jiling Lin 2015 - LinJiling@gmail.com - www.LinJiling.blogspot.com

How to Use
- Direct ingestion (a few drops, to 2 T)
- Blended with other menstruua (ie. Vinegar, alcohol, cooking, etc)
- Topically (ie. Facial scrubs, baths, etc)

Why to Use
- Pleasure (ie. Desserts, aphrodisiacs, general joy, etc)
- Medicine (ie. Herbal honeys, glycerites, syrups, etc)
- Pleasure medicine

Sweet Menstruums
- Honey (can last indefinitely)
- Glycerine (use within 3-4 years)
- Sugar (Syrup= use within a year)
- Anything sweet (ie. Molasses, maple syrup, etc)

Note: make sure that your equipment is sterilized. Micro-organisms love sugars; sweet medicine preparations, if not kept clean, can mold or ferment.


Honey Infusion
1. Fill jar with fresh/ dried finely chopped plant material.
2. Warm honey (via double boiler method) to 130-140 F (hot but not boiling), to liquefy.
3. Pour liquified honey over plant material, covering at least an inch over the top.
4. Infusion options:
- Slow infusion: Let sit for 2-4 weeks, or indefinitely. Useful for flowers, leaves, and other delicate plant material.
- Hot infusion via sun: Place jar in the sunlight to heat, over 2-4 weeks.
- Hot infusion via double-boiler: Place jar in a double-boiler bath (stovetop, crockpot, or other). Let heat slowly for 6-8 hours (overnight in a crockpot on low, works well.) Useful for roots and thicker plant material.
5. To strain or not to strain?
- Strain, to separate the marc from the menstruum. Retain marc in another airtight glass jar for other uses. Strained honey is clear of plant material, easy to pour and use, for formulation, cooking, etc.
- No strain: plants can remain in honey. The honey is chunky and more difficult to pour, but this is helpful if you like having plant bits in your honey, or will use the marc and menstruum together.

Honey infusion marc possibilities:
- Tea
- Cook into pastries or other desserts
- Add to incense blends
- Add into elixirs or shrubs for subtle effect
- Kombucha
- Just eat it

Made like a tincture, but with glycerine as the menstruum, instead of alcohol. Better with dried plant material, and undiluted glycerine. Glycerite can go bad easily with excess water. Useful for folks with blood sugar imbalances/ sensitivities, or to extract tannins. I prefer honey, otherwise.

Electuaries (honey paste)
4 fl. Oz honey: 3 T powdered herb
(1 C honey: 6 T powdered herb)

Add liquified honey to powdered herbs. Stir until evenly coated.

Electuaries with more powders, to form an even thicker paste-like consistency that remains in a ball, when rolled. Roll balls, let dry, then store.

Other options:
- Add powdered demulcent herbs as solidifying agents (ie. Elm, mallow root, licorice, etc.)
- Coat/ roll with other powders on the surface, to further solidify, and prevent sticking.

1. Simmer (2 oz herb: 32 oz water) on low, down to half the original amount of water: 16 oz of strong tea.
2. Strain the herbs.
3. Add sweetener to decoction at 2:1 ratio. (32 oz honey: 16 oz strong tea) The 2:1 ratio doesn’t need refrigeration. Use less sugar, if you have access to refrigeration.
4. Keep heating, until the sweetener dissolves. Can keep cooking, to make more concentrated.
5. Optional:
- Add 3-4 T brandy (or other alcohol) per cup of syrup, as a preservative.
- Add 1-5 drops of essential oil, for a stronger flavor/ medicinal effect.

1. Layer sugar and fresh plant material (light, such as flowers and leaves). Fill to top of jar. Cap it.
2. Options:
- Let sit. The plant marc will release their moisture into the sugar, causing a syrup to form.
- Shake twice daily. The sugar will attach onto the plant material and crystallize, creating candy-like sugarized plants. Mmm.

- Experiment with different types of sugar. I prefer brown sugar, which is more likely to make a syrup. White sugar is more likely to crystallize, if you shake it.
- A few floral ideas: rose petals, violets

Finishing Salt
1 part fresh herb : 1 part salt
1. Finely chop plant material, or blenderize into a powder, with salt.
2. Mix with salt.
3. Let sit in a flat pan, to dry. Drying times depends on your environmental conditions (anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks). Move the mixture around daily, to expose more surfaces to air, to dry. The salt extracts moisture, flavor, and phytochemicals from the plants, until...
4. The whole thing is dessicated, delicious, and ready to bottle.
5. Yum!

- Add powderized plants into the mix after finishing salts are ready, to create a salt blend. Some ideas: nettles gomasio (nettles, black sesame, cayenne, ginger), black pepper, etc.
- Aromatic herbs and spices work well, here.

With Vinegar

Oxymels/ Shrubs
1 part vinegar: 2-4 parts honey
(Can initially infuse plants with combined vinegar and honey, or combine honey infusion and vinegar infusion(s) afterwards.)

With Alcohol

1 C drinking alcohol (ie. Brandy): 1 C sweet syrup/ concentrate (can do 1 tincture: 3 sweet menstruum)
Let sit for a long time. Can be years!

Infused Wine
Infusing herbs into a drinking wine, with the tincture. May be more tasty than a straight tincture. Can add berries and other sweet fruits, to sweeten the medicine

1 part honey: 2-4 parts alcohol
Make with the same technique as making tinctures. Can strain after 2-4 weeks.

Pleasure Elixirs
Add 3 tsp of pre-formulated elixir(s) to 60 oz sparkling water, for a refreshing drink.

With Chocolate

Making Chocolate from Scratch
¼ C cocoa butter                4 T cocoa powder
2 T sweetener                      ¼ tsp vanilla extract

1. Melt cocoa butter in double boiler on low heat.
2. Stir in cocoa powder.
3. Add sweetener/ vanilla.
4. Add herbs/ nuts/ seeds/ fruits/ etc. (Optional)
5. Pour into molds.
6. When solid, release from molds… and enjoy!

Using Existing Chocolate
1. Melt the chocolate.
2. Add in what you want. Here’s options:
- Add in nuts, berries, solid/ powdered herbs/ tinctures/ sweet preparations, let resolidify.
- Layer herbs (infused into sweet menstruua) onto melted chocolate that has solidified a bit. The herbs can be swirled in lightly, or completely mixed in.
- Use marc from coconut oil infusion to make chocolate. 1 Coconut oil marc : 1 Chocolate. Melt together, and mix. (ex: rose petal marc). Can also use herbally infused coconut oil.
3. Mix thoroughly, and let resolidify. (Optional: If you have molds, such as ice cube trays, then you can pour into them, and skip the next step.)
4. Score or cut in desired shapes, once chocolate is hard enough to hold its shape.
5. Let dry slowly and completely. Do not refrigerate, as elements of the chocolate may separate.
6. Enjoy.

Recipes: a few possibilities
(All plants listed in parts. Refer to directions/ proportions above, using the parts listed.)

Arabic Honey Electuary
Black pepper 1: Ginger 1: Tumeric 6-8
4 oz. Honey: 3 T herb powder blend

Sore Throat Pastilles (from Rosemary Gladstar)
- 1 licorice root powder                             - 1 comfrey root powder
- 1 elm powder                                           - 12 echinacea powder
- 1/8 goldenseal powder

Cough and Sore Throat Syrup (from Rosemary Gladstar)
- 2 elm bark                              - 2 valerian
- 2 comfrey root                        - 1 wild cherry bark
- 2 licorice root                         - 1 ginger root
- 1 cinnamon bark                    - 4 fennel seeds
- 1/8 orange peel

Some Sweet Medicine Plant Suggestions
(Loosely organized by primary plant actions. Most plants straddle multiple categories)

- Garlic (Allium sativum)
- Onion (Allium sepa, and other Allium spp.)
- Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

- Black birch (Betula lenta)
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
- Tumeric (Curcuma longa)

- Pine needles (Pinus spp.)
- Rose hips (Rosa spp.)

Circulatory stimulant
- Black pepper (Piper nigrum)
- Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- Sage (Salvia spp.)

- Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
- Mints (Mentha spp.)

Nervine (relaxing)
- Anise star (Illicium verum)
- Chamomile (
Matricaria recutita)
- Lavender (
Lavandula officinalis)
- Lemon balm (
Melissa officinalis)
- Lemon verbena (
Aloysia citriodora)
- Rose petals (Rosa spp.)
- Tulsi (
Ocimum sanctum)
- Violets (Viola spp.)

- Elm (Ulmus spp.)
- Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
- Monarda (
Monarda spp.)
- Osha (
Ligusticum porterii)

1 C= 8 oz
1 pint= 16 oz
1 quart= 32 oz
1 oz= 30 mL

Web Resources
Sweet medicine basics

Cordial recipes

General mixology

Finishing salts


(Pictured: Out-on-a-Whim Farm (Bethany, CT) maypole, bedecked with all the sweetness of spring, and new beginnings. A floral centerpiece to a grand community celebration. And this, this is what "Sweet Medicine" truly is!) 


Making Tinctures (class handout)

Standard Tincture Ratios
(Herb weight: liquid volume, % alcohol)

Fresh plants
1:2 95%

Dried plants
1:5 50%

Tincturing methods
- Weight-to-volume scientific method
- Folk method
- Percolations

Tincturing combination suggestions (optional)
- Add 10% vinegar +35% water + 55% alcohol for alkaloid-containing plants (they’re more soluble this way)
- Add 10% glycerine for tannin-containing plants (so they don’t precipitate)

Tincture usage: considerations
- Dosage and frequency
- Acute vs. Chronic
- Loading dose
- Drop test
- Formulation

Menstruum considerations for alcohol-intolerant folks
- Glycerites
- Vinegars
- Teas
- Powders

Types of alcohol
Often used:
Everclear (95% alcohol)
Vodka (100 proof is 50% alcohol)
Brandy (40- 60% alcohol)
For fun:
Gin, mead, liquor, tequila...
Note: dilute alcohol with distilled water

Fun with alcoholic preparations
- Mixology
- Elixirs (alcohol 2: sweetener 1)
- Cordial (boil 6 C sugar and 5 C water, then add plant, and 3 lemons after)

Some plants to tincture now (autumn in the Northeast)

- Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
- Burdock (Arctium spp.)+seeds
- Docks (Rumex obtusifolius, R. crispus)
- Knotweed (Fallopia japonica)
- Barberry (Berberis spp.)
- Evening primrose (Oenothera spp.)

Trees (bark/ twigs)
- Willow (Salix spp.)
- Black birch (Betula lenta)
- Cherry (Prunus serotina)
- Black walnut hulls (Juglans nigra)
- Pine resin (Pinus spp.) +needles
- Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) whole plant
- Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

Trees (leaves)
- Gingko leaves (Gingko biloba)
- Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Seeds/ fruits
- Rose hips (Rosa spp.)
- Wild carrot (Daucus carota)

- Raspberry (Rubus spp.)
- Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Fire Cider (basic recipe- please modify!)
1/2 C ginger
1/2 C horseradish
1 onion
10 garlic cloves
2 cayenne peppers
1 lemon
Raw apple cider vinegar (cover)
1/4 C raw local honey

Web Resources

Making tinctures 101, by Kiva Rose

Tincture ratios handout, by 7song

“Solubility Chart,” for scientifically measuring tincture alcohol ratios, by Lisa Ganora

See trusted herb companies for optimal ratios. An example is Herb Pharm.

Tincture Ratios, and so much more by my teacher 7song’s teacher, Michael Moore

Five Flavors “Taste of Herbs” Flavor Wheel, from Rosalee de la Foret



When you wake up in the morning, what are you grateful for? What excites you? What delights you? What brings joy and meaning into your life? What are your daily practices, that cultivates this meaningful life?


Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference

Another amazing year at the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference. Here's a few stories/ highlights: excerpts from my journal, and a write-up for Plant Healer magazine.

We arrived just as it got dark, and the sliver of Moon set over the horizon of waving coniferous tree tops, in the little valley that we made home, for the next few nights of the 2015 TWHC. Mating elk sang their love songs into the night. I could hear them walking ever closer to my little bed under the oak tree, where acorns regularly fell above and around me, where I and the acorns lay under a canopy of stars, that blessed reminder of who we are and where we are in the Universe, with the bright white dash of Milky Way magic strewn across the middle of the deliciously dark night sky.

We rose early the next morning, to set up our tables, and give and receive one warm loving hug after another. TWHC feels like a family reunion. I got to embrace, reconnect with, meet, and enjoy the presence of herbalists from all over the country, from a diversity of backgrounds. And, classes hadn’t even started yet.

I’ve been thinking about TWHC for the whole year. Each time I feel tired or lackluster in my struggles as a “new” herbalist, I think about TWHC, and get reinspired. Even though it’s only four days, I made lasting friendships and professional contacts that I regularly reconnect with throughout the year to ask questions, share experiences, and stay connected with, as I grow and help spread our mycelial herbal network of friends and connections wherever I travel, teach, learn, and explore.

Time flew too quickly. This is manifest in the faces of the children. I helped with the new Children’s Camp by teaching a little, but mostly by hanging out with the kids around the gathering. The students from last year remembered me, and I, them. Their families also feel like families, and their moms feel lovingly protective, caring, and somewhat mom-like towards me, too. I accompanied the kids upstairs to look for Rebecca the ghost, ogling the dark landscape from the high vantage point, and then danced with them late into the night. It’s wonderful to see them grow up. I hope to return year after year, and thus be part of their lives. “I don’t want to be an herbalist when I grow up,” said one of the pre-teens in my classes, “my mom’s always talking about herbs, and I’m a little over it.” She stills knows plants though, already confident with her basic plant families. We had fun creating our own plant language, changing the plural form of “petal” from “corolla” into “pet-us,” then “pet-me.” Perhaps it’s an inside joke. It makes my heart sing, these little moments.

TWHC brings together wonderful herbalists from all over the USA, including some of my favorite teachers, role models, inspirations, and beloved people. We shouted at each other above the loud music and laughter on the masquerade ball night, smiling through masks and colorful costumes, bodies grooving to unfamiliar music. The second nights’ dance party had most of us dancing, jumping up and down to the powerful music and clackety drums, soaring flute and vocals, and twanging guitars pulsing through our bloodstream, under the hundred twinkly small white lights, under the old wooden roof beams, under the big Sky Island sky. I danced with the kids, my young friends and students, at the front of the hall, twirling each other and laughing, experimenting with all the different ways to express the music, laughing harder as 7song brought all of us together into a big circle, which eventually snaked around and pulled everyone in the room into a giant circle, which twisted and turned around and into itself, eventually interploding back into a packed room of dancing bodies and uplifted spirits.

(From my journal):
At one moment, looked up while dancing: glittering lights above, an undulating wave of ecstatically dancing herbalist bodies: plant lovers, misfits, oddballs, outsiders. My kids jumping around in front, and I with them. Tears came to my eyes, my body grooving in synchronistic harmony with the music and those around me, feeling completely alive and harmonious in that moment, my heart soaring from every pounding beat my feet sunk into the wooden floor upon sacred Earth, every wild and untamed twirl of my young lithe body getting older, housing this ancient spirit that feels so glad, and so right to be here in this moment, celebrating with a crowd of beautiful, courageous, wild creatures, dancing deep into the night.

I took classes from as many different teachers as possible, to taste different teaching styles, possibilities, and herbal approaches. If I didn’t get a chance to take a class with a teacher, then I made a point to hangout with them.

I notice that most of the teachers were self-taught: highly self motivated, curious, and intelligent people. I’m preparing to embark on Chinese medicine graduate school studies, and question my expensive new journey, especially in the face of all of these skilled practitioners who taught themselves so much, primarily through the practice of living the medicine: starting schools, clinical practices, and apothecaries.

I sidled late into Guido’s class, for my final class of a packed weekend of amazing classes with some of the strongest and most beautiful voices in western herbalism, at the end of this conference. He was mid-story, weaving a story-spell about how the Silvanis helped a young man and the Moon princess live together. He went on to describe various plants of the Alps that are also used in western herbalism, such as Alder, Linden, Nettles, and Elder. His way of combining magic and mythology, science and clinical gems, inspires and excites both the part of me which is still a kid and just wants to hear stories, as well as the “teacher” part of me which is leading classes for both adults and kids. I hope to build such brilliant bridges as these, too.

I found myself drawing little Sylvanis on my plane ride “home,” back to an unknown future: how to continue with my work as an herbalist. Continue onwards to Chinese medicine school, or not. How to best walk in this world. I outlined my hands, filling them with dancing Sylvanis from Guido’s Dolomite Alps stories. Little magical men with red capes who appear out of nowhere in the Alps, and guide people on how to use plants, or gets them in trouble. Like Coyote, but with red capes. And, trees from Juliet’s tree class, Rosaceae family plants from Kiva’s class, inspiration from Sean and Asia’s class, the faces of my friends, children, people and plant herbal family, and more.

I love walking by myself, crunching the red and gold leaves beneath my feet in the frosty late autumn air, geese honking above, turmoiled questions and colorful inspirations swirling within my chest, released with each outbreath. I’m grateful for opportunities to ignite myself in the fires of community, setting fire to my latent passions and budding possibilities and impossibilities. “Where to from here,” becomes less of a question, and “How can I make THIS opportunity NOW and HERE the BEST it can possibility be,” rises, instead.

Small hand in large hand, large hand in wrinkled hand, hand by hand, a roomful of people dance around, under the sky stars in an old room, weaving together a fibrous fabric of time. We are creating our own mythology as the gods of our own lives.

(From my journal): 
After TWHC, I feel powerful, inspired and unwilling to compromise me for my dreams... a mutual movement of me reaching for the world and vice versa, not a solo one way dance.

The elk are mating right now. We got serenaded each morning and night with their haunting songs, plaintive love cries that echoed across the cliffs and canyons, and the sounds of their footsteps, the chattering squirrels, and the falling acorns of autumn. Night sky: bright stars, Milky Way, dramatic sunsets and sunrises, a thin crescent moon that grew to a quarter moon by the time the Gathering ended. Sleeping on the ground warmly ensconced in two sleeping bags, bare face smiling up to a ceiling of stars and fattening moon, wind, elk, squirrel, and acorn songs to sleep, and days filled with herbal speak: inspiration, wisdom, experience, possibility--- didn’t make any photos while here. Fully present and engaged, four days lost to the world, fully present in the world. Now, at the end, flying on to my next adventurous journey--- I realize this is what it feels like to be fully alive. And, I want this (!) in my life.

NCNM Personal Statement

There's a 1000 word limit that I had to stay within. Sometimes when I get inspired, I just write and write. I cut a lot out to meet the word limit; there is so much more to say. There is always more to say. And, when it comes down to it, the story means nothing (even though it sometimes feels like everything. And it does provide a basis for everything else, in the mythology of my life, and the world that I've woven around myself in my head, and therefore also in reality.)

I left the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture (AFEA). It was a complex multi-layered decision that I still feel deeply conflicted about: sad, angry, somewhat helpless... and, necessary. And now, onwards.

I just sent in my application for the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) in Portland, OR. I don't have many friends or connections in the Portland area, and am looking for connections and support, especially around finding affordable housing, preferably an "alternative" housing situation where I can do worktrade in exchange for a place to make a nest, make beautiful, and rest at night. NCNM will be an intense education; a "real" Chinese medicine education that includes the study of classical Chinese, translating ancient texts, as well as engaging full-time in school, work, clinic, personal practice, memorization, experiencing, and so much more.

I applied for, and hope to embark on, the Doctors of Science in Oriental Medicine (DSOM) program, beginning January 2016. It will be more than double the cost of education at AFEA. The total should add up to around $130,000 for just tuition alone. After considering my options, this one still feels like the best one. Daunting, yes.

I want to share one of my application essays with you. And, I want to ask for your assistance for school finances, again. You can donate via my Jiling Botanicals business page here, or you can just send me a check (preferable, so I don't get money deducted from using a credit card). Any help is appreciated--- I'm asking for at least $5 from each person, if possible. If not, then send me your prayers; I'll need it!

There are four essays required for the application to NCNM. I should hear if I get accepted or not within a week or two. I expect an easy acceptance, but who knows.

Writing all four of the essays brought me to tears. Making this commitment is truly life-changing for myself and all those I come into contact with. It feels like a decision that is larger than just my life, not just affecting my future clients and students, but also wrapped into the fabric of my very being, and all of my ancestors. It feels deeply personal, and through its depth of connection with my heart and being, touches humanity.

Thanks for reading!

Personal Statement
Jiling Lin, 10/ 2015

We lit candles, placing them into lanterns, then paraded around the empty streets with our colorful florally painted paper lanterns swinging from ropes, suspended on chopsticks that we delicately held in our small hands, as we tried not to run too fast, or jump too high with excitement. I loved singing the old Chinese songs, eating moon cake, and staring at the moon during the Moon Festival, lighting our incense sticks and wafting their magical perfume up towards the sky, with muttered prayers flying up with the smoke, to reach the ears and nostrils of our ancestors. I grew up in a white neighborhood, getting stereotypical Asian-sounds thrown at me like bullets from across the playground. I wore red often, feeling a connection with a land across the ocean where my parents and ancestors came from, where I spent the first year of my life, where I didn’t get to return to much at all again, until after I grew up, after experiencing the blessings and difficulties of being a first generation Taiwanese-American in a new land but still feeling a curiosity, affinity, and pride, for where I felt like I really came from.

I studied Native American traditions, western herbalism, Thai massage, Yoga, esoteric spiritual new-agey traditions from all over, and more. Nothing really connected, until I met a man nicknamed “Tofu” through a series of coincidences, who sees patients for free in his humble mountain abode of the YangMingShan Mountains that lie to the north of the capitol of Taiwan, Taipei, where my parents were born and raised, where the pre-birth of my birth arose from the Earth, where my grandparents fled when the Communists took over China, where I went and lived for three years after three years of travel around the USA as an adult after graduating from UCLA, where I re-fell in love with something ancient, refound my bones, resculpted myself, and then returned to the USA with something that I didn’t have before: a vision.

I just started teaching my own western herbal classes last July, after completing 1.5 years of formal intensive education at two different herb schools. Teaching has been invaluable for solidifying all that I learned in school, while continually challenging all I think I know and don’t know, constantly humbling me, while slowly and gently increasing my confidence. Embarking on this Chinese medicine school journeys feels like starting all over again, but also like returning home, back to something so very familiar, tucked into the folds of my childhood dreams, of falling asleep to the sound of my grandma counting her prayer beads, knocking on her wooden fish, and singing all the old Buddhist chants in a high-pitched, nasal, single-toned sing-song voice, led from her heart; falling asleep to the smell of complex Chinese herbal formulas stewing in old clay pots, then waking to the babbling of a community of elders and children, a true community moving around me.

He placed a needle in my hand. “Start with yourself,” he said. He showed me where my He Gu (LI 4) is, and how to needle it. It took me a while to actually dredge up the courage to needle myself. Then, I did it. The simultaneous pain and exciting electricity shot from the point of needled contact up the meridian line, and electrified, ecstatified my entire system. “Sing the body electric,” said Whitman. I felt it.

Where to, from here?

I started traveling intensively after graduating from college, eventually landing myself at the bottom of a cliff after a failed mountain summit deep in the Sierra Nevadas, after free-falling forty feet, and rolling 400 feet to what luckily was not a death, but was instead a rebirth: two broken wrists, a fractured chin, a cracked skull, and half my face torn off. Many stitches and surgery later, I returned to the world physically, emotionally, and spiritually shattered and changed. Impossible to return to my job as a “mere” photojournalist, I turned to the road, to a life of infinite possibilities and possible impossibilities, where nothing was clear, until after walking with the unclarity for a long enough distance, I eventually stomped out a clear enough path to notice the way I was walking, the patterns therein: wilderness, creativity, and spirituality. Body, mind, and spirit. Healing the entire person, the entire being.

It starts simultaneously inside and outside, and there are no clear answers. Every process is a journey, a process. I start with myself.

I experience dull chronic pain in my wrist, which is exacerbated by stress, coldness, and dampness. Coagulated scar tissue sits at the area of surgery, right along my Pericardium meridian. I experience numbness and tingling in my fingers, among various other symptoms that arose after my transformative mountain experience. Part of my travels was learning how to feel better, how to heal fully, how to embrace life again, after being so painfully close to death. I learned that the best, most powerful medicine that one can embrace is that which one feels an affinity with. I feel passionate about old traditions, paths that carry weight via time, experience, story, and lived lives. I love the tales of those who came before, especially if they are finely wrapped in magic and mythology, these nonliteral metaphorical tales that fire my blood and reinforce all the ways in which I’m woven into this world, via my heartstrings, inspired connection of Earth, plant, body, and life medicine. Story, connection, and Earth healed me back into life. Now, for more questions: how can I continue to walk my path in such a way as to continue helping others on their own healing paths? Herbalist, adventurer, educator, and bridger between the worlds of Taiwanese and American, seen and unseen, old and new, microcosm within macrocosm--- here, I stand at the brink of Classical Chinese medicine studies at NCNM, knocking on the door, with an open heart and mind.



What is your cultural heritage? Who are your ancestors? What is your relationship with them? How are they present in your life? What cultures do you feel connected with, or curious about? What is the cultural backdrop of your current life? What kind of input are you providing, through your own life, for the future generations?