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This post is sponsored by my fiends at Mountain Rose Herbs

Dreams are half of our lives. Our most personal and private lives. Tucked away between the twilight hours of dusk and dawn, the possibilities of dreams are limitless and never confined to the self imposed restrictions of waking life. I sometimes feel like if I didn't have any biological needs to be awake, I would stay in dreams indefinitely. For as long as I can remember, my dreams have been remarkably vivid, adventurous, and deeply emotional. My first dream journal entry is dated October 12, 1995. I was nine years old, and that night I went on a mysterious swamp venture through dark and murky channels, heavy hanging Spanish moss all around. Everything was green and gray, and there were castle ruins sunk to the bottoms of the swamp with a maze of broken walls jutting out of the bottomless black water. I was looking for a friend that was lost in the swamp without a raft, likely holed up in the bigger castle ruins that seemed so far away I'd never make it. I kept making wrong turns, hitting dead ends and would erupt in these surges of anger and frustration that I couldn't do anything right...I'd never make it no matter how hard I tried. My little raft was falling apart in little pieces every time I got angry. I remember having the feeling that if I didn't keep it together, I'd get lost in that swamp forever too, and no one would come looking for me. When I woke up from that dream riddled with failure, I wrote it all down. I read over it now and it's all just as vivid as the night it first happened. At the end of the entry, I noted that all I wanted to do now was continue going back to keep trying. I couldn't just leave my friend in that dark, abysmal subconscious swamp. And who was that friend anyway? I fell asleep every night for months afterwards trying to have the same dream, but it didn't happen again until February of the following year. 

In between, I wrote down all of the my dreams. I dreamt of carnivals, a cancelled Christmas, endless seas of white sand dunes I had to keep climbing, having to take a math test for a class I'd never been to, sailing in a green sea with Prince Caspian, being killed in a huge battle, flying kites at the beach, planting a tree on my own planet (shortly after I read The Little Prince, I imagine), and making a river out of crunchy fallen leaves. There were dozens of others, and I have them all written down. Hundreds of hours of my childhood are all document and I would never remember it otherwise. My dream life then (and now) was way more adventurous than my waking life ever seemed, and it was all mine. I never had to tell anyone what I was up to. Every now and then, I'd have the most amazing lucid dream. In the middle of some weird part of my adventure, I'd realize I was dreaming and immediately try to fly and it worked every time. I hoped I could do that if I ever got back to the swamp.

My cousin taught me a trick during that span of time to recognize when I was dreaming. Everyday, at least 10 times a day, I should stop what I was doing, look at my hands and ask myself, "Am I dreaming? How did I get here". I'd get into the habit so much  in waking life that I would eventually do it while I was dreaming, and soon enough I could do that every night in my dreams. I repeated this hand practice all the time at school, as practice of course, but also to remind myself that life wasn't always this boring. Around January, I would go to sleep at night knowing I'd figure out I was dreaming and be able to do anything I like. Finally, one night in February, I ended up back in the swamp on the same raft in the same murky maze looking for the same person. I was in the dream a long time before I remembered the trick. I had lost my temper so many times before then that I barely had a raft left to float on. Once I realized I was dreaming, I just took off flying towards that larger castle ruins (made good time, too) and abandoned my emotionally frail raft. I made it to the ruins and started looking around, through all of the corridors and empty abandoned rooms...the place was silent except for the sound of bullfrogs that echoed everywhere like a song. I looked and looked. There was nothing. Empty. The feeling of having something or someone to find completely left, and I was overwhelmed with disappointment. All that for nothing. Just wake up. You failure

.... 

....... but I did make progress. 

My cedar chest is full of old dream journals. I've kept them since that first swamp trip. They're packed with every spectrum of emotion, all of the highs and lows. Failure. Anger. Lust. Love. Fear. Elation. Longing. Hope. Hopelessness. Despair. Excitement. Dread. They are all just as real as waking life. I've just paid attention to thousands more hours of them. They're my stories. My whole life. Now that I'm older, though, that hand trick doesn't always work for me anymore. I'll just forget, or be so consumed by a dream I won't even consider it an option. But I still want those lucid dreams sometimes...and I eventually (and accidentally) found a new trick with a lucid dreaming herb - Mugwort.  

For the past few years as I've gotten to intimately know herbs, I've been crafting a dreaming tea blend that I drink before bed to encourage lucid dreams (although it doesn't always do the trick). It's a combination of mugwort, chamomile, passionflower, spearmintoatstraw and orange peel. The chamomile and passionflower help to relax my mind, calm my body and slow me down from the fast pace of a busy day. The oatstraw replenishes my body with it's building nervine quality and gentle nutrients. The orange peel is a hint of zingy aromatic flavor and the spearmint just smells like a dream. And the star of this celestial blend is the mugwort itself. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) has a mystical history as one of the most magical herbs - used for protection mostly, and named for the Greek goddess Artemisia, the goddess of the hunt and the forest and the hills. I've found that mugwort sometimes helps me to slip into lucid dreaming more easily...perhaps because as an adult, I'm more far removed from my ethereal imagination than I was was a child. This autumnal dreaming blend is one of my favorites to create. I blend up a large batch and use it up for several weeks. The addition of the celestial tea strainer is particularly fitting. 

When I imbibe in this dreaming tea, it usually always takes me to the forest with a swift stream and large, towering trees. It's become one of my favorite dreamscapes to visit. It's calm and beautiful and always autumn. I like it most because when I'm here, the only emotions I feel are happy and safe and calm. There are no tasks or expectations or fear or uncertainty. It's just my magical place. With mugwort, each person has their own experience, and I'm always curious where this dream blend will take you, too. 

Autumnal Lucid Dreaming Tea

2 tsp mugwort
1/2 tsp chamomile
1/2 tsp passionflower
1/2 tsp orange peel
1/2 tsp spearmint
1/2 tsp oatstraw
Serves 1

Add dried herbs into a tea strainer in your favorite mug and cover with 2.5 cups hot water. Let steep for 10 minutes, covered. Strain and sip consciously 1 hour before bedtime in a quiet and calm space, letting the aroma fill your senses and ease your mind. 

 

This post is sponsored by my friends at Mountain Rose Herbs. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It is my goal to use and recommend only the highest quality herbal products from companies that I wholly trust and fully support. Industry standards including sustainable harvestingquality controlorganic / fair trade standards and responsible sourcing are all things I care deeply about when working with herbs and herbal companies. I have been using Mountain Rose Herbal products for almost a decade, and have always been so impressed with their commitment to environmental stewardship. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to make this blog possible. 

Photography by moon sister Renee Byrd

September, you're a little bizarre and special. Always the start of a new beginning, Septembers past have been the start of new schools, new semesters, new apartments, new jobs, new seasons...new opportunities. This has never been a month of maintaining the same old rhyme and rhythm of steadfast summer. I feel the most open to change and challenges in September, and in my adult life it has never failed to deliver just that. Reflecting back on a September ten years ago, I was living in Galway, Ireland, settling into a new (yet very old) apartment, gushing over my new University syllabi, developing an addiction to earl gray tea and getting a crash course in UK city biking. One of the things I loved most about living in Ireland was their fondness and skill at beverage making (not coffee, alas), but crafty teas and otherwise caffeinated mid-afternoon beverages. Early in September of that year, by some happy accident I stumbled upon a magical form of hot chocolate marshmallowy milky heaven in a cafe not far from my apartment and it routinely became my weekly indulgence every Sunday afternoon. It was smooth and salty with a subtle sweetness but savory too...energizing but relaxing...decadent but rustic....oh it was an incredible liquid contradiction in the best way. I've never had anything quite like it since living there...until I discovered Four Sigmatic Mushroom Elixirs.

I picked up a little packet of Reishi Mushroom Elixir several months ago from Boketto (as I can't resist a creative way to take medicinal mushrooms). As soon as I came home, I dropped the contents into some piping hot water and added a pinch of sea salt and experienced an intensely real time transport back to that little Irish cafe with my beloved imbibed Sunday contradiction. It was just a faint reminder of that liquid heaven I had in Galway - enough so that I subsequently bought a sample of every mushroom elixir available and started playing around with recipes to try and recreate it just as I had remembered. "What luck, too!", I thought, "that it's mushroom based!" I love mushrooms and any excuse to take them excited me to no end. All this time I'd been taking mushroom tinctures almost daily...and those are fine and all, but certainly don't taste as good as these little packets of nostalgia. 

I eventually struck upon a combination that was blissful and true to what my tastebuds remembered with the addition of homemade almond milk, a pinch of pink salt and a dollop of intensely delicious coconut butter infused with building and invigorating Shatavari from Laka (another incredible find from Boketto). This midday elixir has everything I've been craving lately with a texture that's absolutely transporting and as creamy as freshly melted chocolate. 

The addition of mushrooms into my daily health regimen has been steadfast over the past several years and I'm a huge proponent of incorporating medicinal mushrooms into our medicine cabinets and our kitchens! I'm fascinated with mushrooms and their eclectic and diverse use as a tonic and supportive remedy of the immune system plus about a hundred other potential uses currently being researched. Medicinal mushrooms like Reishi, Chaga and Cordyceps are some of the few natural medicines being thoroughly researched in specific health conditions, giving them some major clout and potential to be accepted and utilized by the western medical community (it's all about evidence based, evidence based, evidence based and mushrooms are starting to prove themselves in that niche way too, despite their hundreds of years of medicinal use...). Mushrooms are something that I would consider a food source of tonic health, and I often think that's the best way to take medicine - in our daily diet. 

Use any milk base you'd prefer. I like to use freshly made almond milk, lightly sweetened with dates. My favorite mushroom elixir to use in this recipe is the Chaga blend but honestly all of their mushroom blends are decadent and delicious in this recipe. I add in a bit of ashwagandha root for added adaptogenic support. Top with fancy flora of your choosing if you're feeling like some mid-afternoon decadence. 

Mushroom Elixir with Infused Coconut Butter

1 cup Almond Milk
1 tsp Ashwagandha Root
1 Packet Four Sigmatic Mushroom Elixir
1 tsp (Infused) Coconut Butter
1 tsp Raw honey
Serves 1

Heat one cup of almond milk with 1 tsp ashwagandha root on low heat for 7 minutes. Add to a high speed blender along with the mushroom elixir, coconut butter and honey. Blend for about 60 seconds until smooth and frothy. Serve warm, toped with a bit of cinnamon or rose petals. 



“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”  -- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

This post is sponsored by my friends at Mountain Rose Herbs

Early summer mornings, before 7am, when the sunlight is filtering through the trees and the river is calm and quiet, and the birds echo through the still mountain hollers....this is my favorite time of day. Waking up with gratitude of feeling safe, well nourished and eager to greet another day is a true blessing, and I acknowledge this before even getting out of bed. My pup cuddles in bed with me, gently licking my face and nudging her cold little nose into my arm,  half saying "Let's just do this all morning..." and half saying "Outside! Breakfast!", until finally we decide to lazily begin our predictable morning routine together, slow and steady with mutual eagerness. 

With still heavy eyes fuzzy with the remains of pixelated dreams, I shuffle over to my tea nook and reach lovingly for my Dawn Chorus Tea, always ever present in my tea pot on most mornings. I sift a bit out into my favorite morning tea pot, pull out my favorite whimsical mug, and as the water heats to a boil, Gromit plays outside, chasing the hungry birds and creeping stealthily in and out of the vegetable garden...hoping not to get caught (again) this time. I open up all of the windows, letting the cool summer morning air permeate through the house and light a bit of rosewood incense, fans on full blast to break the stagnant humidity that built up over night. 

The kettle boils and piping hot water goes slowly into the tea pot, filled with organic nettle leaf, green rooibos, and rose petals. The familiar smell is intoxicating...nurturing Nostalgic. The Dawn Chorus Tea blend from Mountain Rose Herbs has been a morning companion of mine for years, and the aroma alone reminds me of mornings past...in so many different "homes" with so many different people. My devotion and love of nettle runs deep (and it's in many, many of my monthly steeps) and the nutrient profile of the stinging nettle herb hits all the right spots in my body. Rich in iron and calcium (both of which my body needs constantly) and vitamins A and C, nettle is my favorite morning herb to fill my body with nutrients and quench a thirst from a night of vivid dreaming. Green rooibos is deliciously uplifting for morning time and doesn't carry the typical sweetness of most rooibos varieties (it's also unfermented, giving it a unique taste that I love) and packs in trace minerals and anti-oxidants. It's naturally un-caffeineted, so I never mind drinking cup after cup after cup...which I often find myself doing on extra slow mornings. And finally the hint of organic rose petals - the sweetness and gentle affection we all need first thing in the morning. Anything rose to me is just straight up feminine self care indulgence that, when sipped in a morning tea, comforts and relaxes me no matter how chaotic the world outside my windows may be. This trio together is my morning imbibed. Sheer herbal tea love. 

My evening adventures are receding quickly with every moment I'm awake, and tracking down my dream journal under piles of yesterdays accumulated books promptly cranks my brain into working mode. Dream journaling is something I've done since I was nine years old, and always something I try to do within 15 minutes of waking up. It's a practice that I make special time for, even if it's just bullet points to help remind me of the details that are often like fading cobwebs as the day day goes on. With tea close by, I remember vivid dreamscapes filled with familiar characters and places that I've been acquainted with for decades. My dream life is precious time, and a whole extra part of my real life that I would otherwise have no memory of years later. On slow mornings, I can document the night's travels in detail and reflect on what they may...or may not represent...and honestly I have no idea most of the time, but it's still part of my story nonetheless. 

With tea precariously in hand and my favorite pen and journal, the river is where my thoughts can really escape and flow onto a page that no one will ever read. Morning river time, even if only for a few minutes, can put a whole day into perspective. No screens. No calendar. No phone. No way to be bothered. Just quiet alone time with thoughts of gratitude and love that I send out to the world that needs it desperately. This morning time reminds me that I am still very small, and just a tiny part of a grander landscape, no more important than the hawk after her morning breakfast or the snake warming on a nearby rock. Although it is never far from my mind that I have daily responsibilities, people to care for, a business to run, people to help and a team that I need and want to contribute to, sometimes I do succumb to a tremendous sense of of overwhelm...like I"ll never be good enough for a task or I didn't do a good enough job on a project, or I could have created a better health plan for someone...here is where my mind shuts off and those thoughts are left up on the hill within the confines of my closed laptop - at least, for the time being. Tea still needs to be finished before those thoughts swarm around me for the day, and Dawn Chorus tea helps to create my daily shield, and a much appreciated softening buffer to not be so hard on myself. Because how can I stay wound up so tight when I have to take deep breaths to sip and swallow such nourishing tea? That's just counterproductive. 

Even when we feel alone, by choice or by default, moments of stillness and setting a ritual of gratitude for the morning with an herbal ally tea can make us feel connected in deeper ways than we can ever know. My morning tea ritual has evolved through many incarnations over the years and still fluctuates from time to time. Morning tea allows us time - dedicated and essential time - to not just go flailing into a busy day with our compass spinning in circles. Morning tea ritual is our opportunity to set our true North and remember it with every conscious sip. I'd love to hear some of your favorite morning practices - What are your grounding morning rituals or favorite morning teas? 

This post is sponsored by my friends at Mountain Rose Herbs. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It is my goal to use and recommend only the highest quality herbal products from companies that I wholly trust and fully support. Industry standards including sustainable harvesting, quality control, organic / fair trade standards and responsible sourcing are all things I care deeply about when working with herbs and herbal companies. I have been using Mountain Rose Herbal products for almost a decade, and have always been so impressed with their commitment to environmental stewardship. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to make this blog possible. 

Sources: 

1. Comparison of Nutritional Properties of Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

HELLO, I’M LINDSAY.
Herbal medicine and nutrition is my expertise. Understanding plants, their properties, and their powers is my passion.

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