A guided exploration of herbal lore and healing plants found in yards, forests, meadows, and hedgerows
• Draws on traditional knowledge and remedies from around the world, including Native American, Celtic, and Egyptian traditions
• Provides simple recipes to safely make herbal remedies from local plants and honey for first aid, immune support, and treatment of common ailments
• Details the “triangle” formula-making system of William LeSassier
• Explains how to work with plant spirits, herbal astrology, and Animal Spirit Medicine
Weaving together ancient wisdom, mystical folklore, and modern plant research, master herbalist Ellen Evert Hopman explores the many uses of flowers, trees, common weeds, and ornamental plants for food, medicine, spiritual growth, and magical rituals. She reveals the herbal lore surrounding each plant, drawing on traditional knowledge and remedies from around the world, including Native American, Celtic, and Egyptian traditions. She includes recipes throughout so you can make medicines from wild and domesticated plants easily found in yards, forests, meadows, and hedgerows, and she discusses what to plant to ensure you have leaves, berries, and flowers all year.
The author reveals how to quickly intuit an unknown plant’s properties using the signatures of plants--universal indications and contraindications based on the form, color, and location of a plant. She includes an in-depth section on honey and Bee Medicine, allowing you to appreciate the labors of these plant-dependent insects. Exploring the magical role of herbs in ancient ritual, Hopman provides recipes for Egyptian temple incense and their sacred medicine known as “Kyphi” or “Kaphet,” used to purify the body, banish insomnia, and promote vivid dreaming. She explores shamanic Plant Spirit and Animal Spirit Medicine as well as herbal astrology. She also explains the “triangle” formula-making system of her herbal mentor William LeSassier to help you develop custom herbal remedies tailored to a person’s unique strengths and weaknesses.
Showing how to easily incorporate wild plants into your life to receive their healing benefits throughout the seasons, Hopman reveals the power of the bounty that Mother Nature has provided right at our doorstep.
I live in an oak forest in New England. There is very little light here for growing things, so I mostly rely on wildcrafted roots, barks, leaves, flowers, and berries, but I follow a few cautions before I pick. The first is expressed by an old Native American saying: “Walk by the first seven, leave the eighth for the animals, and you may take the ninth”; always leave enough plants behind to feed the wild creatures and to make seed for next year’s crop
Gather one thousand feet from a roadway: to avoid the pollutants that abound there, such as those from car exhaust and brake linings
Act fast, because Nature doesn’t wait: there is usually just a short window of opportunity for gathering from the wild
Know your herbs: be sure you have a good guide or a teacher to point things out to you, and never pick endangered species in the wild
Every season brings its own moment of opportunity; in the spring there are already an abundance of edibles and medicinals available in fields and forests, for those with the eyes to see and the determination to seek them out.
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
The delicate white flowers of Bloodroot are among the first flowers to appear in woodlands in spring. The roots were once added to tinctures and syrups for lung conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and fevers. As they are now considered a toxic irritant, a better way to deliver the medicine is to put the tincture or tea of Bloodroot into a vaporizer and inhale the mist. It helps to open the capillaries in cases of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and other lung disorders. Bloodroot, an antiseptic, is used in toothpastes and mouthwashes.
Chicory (Chichorium intybus)
Chichorium intybus is a familiar bright blue wayside flower. Gather the young leaves before the blossoms appear and add them raw to salads or cook them like spinach. The leaves are also used in poultices for inflammations. Later in the season you can sprinkle the open flowers onto salads, open-faced cream cheese sandwiches, and cakes. Try freezing them into ice cubes for festive occasions.
The roots can be gathered from March to May. Sauté the root when fresh or dry it, grind it, and add it to coffee. A tea made from the roots will aid the digestive tract. A tea can also be made of the leaves and flowers (don’t pick after blooming); it will clear mucus, aid in passing gallstones, and improve digestion. Acne, liver problems, eczema, rheumatic complaints, and gout may also benefit from the tea. Tea made from the leaves can also be used as a mouthwash for gum conditions. To make the tea: simmer one teaspoon chopped root per half cup water for ten minutes or steep one teaspoon herb per half cup water for twenty minutes. Take one tablespoon three times a day in separate doses, in water or milk.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Dandelion greens are at their best in the early spring when they first appear. Soak them in cold water with a few tablespoons of sea salt or vinegar added to remove parasites, for about twenty minutes. Then rinse the leaves and eat them mixed into a salad, or cook them like spinach with a little butter, sea salt, and lemon juice. You can also dust them with flour, salt, and pepper and then fry in butter. A classic way to cook Dandelion greens is to sauté them with onion and bacon.
The flowers are used to make Dandelion wine. Add the petals (but not the green sepals, which are too bitter) to salads for a calcium boost.
Dandelion root tea is used for acne and eczema and for liver issues. To make the tea: After soaking the roots in water with vinegar or salt added beforehand to remove parasites, then simmer two teaspoons of root per half cup water for about fifteen minutes. Take up to one cup a day in quarter cup doses.
Forsythia (Forsythia spp.)
Yellow Forsythia flowers are some of the first spring blooms. Add a few to your salad.
Nettles (Urtica spp.)
Nettles are antihistaminic and a nice alternative to allergy medications. Fresh Nettles should be gathered while wearing rubber gloves. Rinse for a few seconds under cold water in the sink and all traces of the “sting” will disappear.
Caution: do not eat Nettles raw.
Nettles can be added to soups, sautéed with other vegetables, folded into omelets, and so on. Try baking Nettles into a pie or adding them to quiche. Delicious!
Nettles can be made into a warming tea. To make the tea: steep three tablespoons chopped Nettles for three to ten minutes in a cup of freshly boiled water. Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)
Add the flowers of Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) to salads.
Ellen Evert Hopman has been a teacher of herbalism since 1983 and is a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild. A member of the Grey Council of Mages and Sages and a former professor at the Grey School of Wizardry, she has presented at schools and workshops across the United States and Europe. A Druidic initiate since 1984, she is a founding member of The Order of the White Oak (Ord Na Darach Gile), a Bard of the Gorsedd of Caer Abiri, and a Druidess of the Druid Clan of Dana. A former vice president of The Henge of Keltria, she is the author of A Druid's Herbal of Sacred Tree Medicine; A Druid’s Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year; Walking the World in Wonder; Being a Pagan; Tree Medicine, Tree Magic; and Priestess of the Forest. She lives in Massachusetts.
“The secret in Ellen Hopman’s new text is the rich framework she presents for herbal medicine. By knowing herbs through the lenses of the seasons, the garden, the body, the stars, and more, the beginner will develop well-nourished roots and clear, practical skills with a wide range of plants. The advanced student will appreciate the thorough guide to formulation and blending, which makes this book an important reference text.”
– Guido Masé, codirector of the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, chief herbalist of Urba
“Rare are those herbalists who understand the perfection of balance when knowledge is based both upon the wisdom that has survived the passing of millennia and knowledge that is affirmed with the modern tools of research and analysis. I encourage you to take the intimate journey Ellen Evert Hopman offers you in Secret Medicines from Your Garden. Her opening sentence resounds as a truth in my own life as well. And from that sentence onward, as she shares her own journey into the study of herbal medicine, she will engage you as a trusted friend and as someone who goes out of her way to always speak with clarity. The recipes and preparations are delicious, the medicinal information trustworthy, and the historical references reflect academic accuracy. This book should go home with you. And then? Let Ellen take you on a wonderful journey into our herbal world.”
– Paul Beyerl, master herbalist, author of The Master Book of Herbalism, and founder of The Hermit&rsq
“This is the most tantalizing type of herb book--the kind I love most--filled with lore and history, myth and magic, and the author’s own rich experiences weaving the tales together. We are led on a most unique multidimensional journey to the heart of herbalism. Along the way we are taught how to use plants for medicine, daily well-being, ritual, and ceremony.”
– Rosemary Gladstar, herbalist, founder of United Plant Savers, and author of Planting the Future: Sav
“Just like in nature where you encounter the same herb many times but in different ways, Ellen Evert Hopman’s new book takes you on a spiraling exploration into the world of healing plants. Your first encounter is a taste, the next a healing brew, and then a story as if around a campfire. She also shares, for the first time in print, the brilliant herbal formulation technique of the late (great) herbalist William LeSassier. What a delight to journey with Ellen as she shares her extensive experience and knowledge of the rich diversity found in each plant!”
– Pam Montgomery, herbalist, educator, and author of Plant Spirit Healing and Partner Earth
“Ellen Evert Hopman is a master herbalist who understands both the physical and spiritual nature of plants. In Secret Medicines from Your Garden she draws on her extensive experience and brings us a wonderful book that is so much more than the average herbal. Packed full of practical guidance, accessible information, and useful recipes, this original and beautifully illustrated book takes us deep into nature and teaches how plants can nourish both body and soul. Ellen is making a significant contribution to contemporary plant wisdom. Highly recommended for anyone interested in plant spirits, herbal lore, and plant magic.”
– Carole Guyett, medical herbalist, Celtic priestess, and author of Sacred Plant Initiations
“Like a box of bonbons, this collection of arcane and useful herbal lore will delight and entertain you, no matter your mood. Secret Medicines from Your Garden courses through bee-humming meadows and skirts hedgerows guarded by rowan woods, while eating flower sandwiches and pouring libations for the fairies. You will love this new and wonderful treasure from the enchanted pen of Ms. Hopman.”
– Susun S. Weed, author of the Wise Woman Herbal Series
“Her eyes opened to the power and beauty of nature first by the Franciscan community near Assissi in northern Italy and subsequently by the New Age community of Findhorn in Scotland, Ellen Evert Hopman felt called to work with plants in all their forms and guises. After an herbal apprenticeship with William LeSassier, the visionary herbalist and creator of the Triune formulation system, she spent five years studying the herbal ways of Native American elders. Declaring herbalism a lifelong learning path, this book is a distillation of all the knowledge she has acquired from the natural world and its benefits for our physical, mental, and spiritual health. It is a fascinating, educational, and highly enjoyable read brimming with practical ideas, recipes, and rich in history as well an important reference work from an accomplished herbalist, author, and all around plant woman.”
– Alex Dover, medical herbalist
“This book is multifaceted, a gem that is full of information about our personal green paths that encompass medicine, food, religion, and ritual.”
– Mary Pat Palmer, registered herbalist and director of the Philo School of Herbal Energetics, Philo,
“A delightful collection of nature’s wisdom translated into an easy-to-follow instructional book of herbal medicine. Ellen provides a great medicinal resource while inviting you to cultivate your intuition and connect with the spiritual components of plant medicine.”
– Aviva D. Wertkin, N.D., founder of Naturae Medical
“In Secret Medicines from Your Garden, Ellen Evert Hopman takes the reader on a fascinating tour of various facets of herbalism: In part one, "A Wildcrafting Primer," we learn about medicinal and delicious plants to harvest in each season, as well as cold and flu care and plants to repel insects. In part two we meet animal spirit medicines, herbal astrology, plant spirits, and more. Part three encourages us to enjoy nature's bounty from honey to hedgerows, and includes two full chapters on tree medicine. Part four brings the reader into some finer points of formulation and developing protocols, including the details of William LeSassier's method of formulation. Drawing on many traditions, this book is likely to have something for everyone!”
– Phoenix Books "staff picks," Kristen Eaton - Manager, February 2016
"Mind-blowing! Hopman has found a way to pack a veritable treasure trove of herbal lore into a clear, precise and engaging volume. The contents are organized beautifully, starting with a primer on wildcrafting and the “doctrine of signatures” while following with a season-by-season guide to harvesting and utilizing nature’s potent healing energies. A wonderful addition to the library of any naturalist, herbalist, witch or alchemist."
– The Witches’ Almanac, February 2016
“Weaving together ancient wisdom, mystical folklore, and modern plant research, master herbalist Ellen Evert Hopman explores the many uses of flowers, trees, common weeds, and ornamental plants for food, medicine, spiritual growth, and magical rituals. She reveals the herbal lore surrounding each plant, drawing on traditional knowledge and remedies from around the world, including Native American, Celtic, and Egyptian traditions. She includes recipes throughout so you can make medicines from wild and domesticated plants easily found in yards, forests, meadows, and hedgerows, and she discusses what to plant to ensure you have leaves, berries, and flowers all year. She reveals the herbal lore surrounding each plant, drawing on traditional knowledge and remedies from around the world, including Native American, Celtic, and Egyptian traditions. She includes recipes throughout so you can make medicines from wild and domesticated plants easily found in yards, forests, meadows, and hedgerows, and she discusses what to plant to ensure you have leaves, berries, and flowers all year. Showing how to easily incorporate wild plants into your life to receive their healing benefits throughout the seasons, Hopman reveals the power of the bounty that Mother Nature has provided right at our doorstep”
– The Edge, March 2016
“Not just another reference book! Hopman uses narrative to draw us into her world and introduce us to the plants she knows so well. It was the spirit of St. Francis who led her to her calling. In a small church which he helped to build, she heard a voice telling her to work with plants. She heeded the calling, setting out on a journey guided only by the plants themselves. Now she is introducing readers to the properties and uses of her special plant allies. My favorite section is the one on the “doctrine of signatures” which uses plant/leaf formation, habitat preferences, smell, color, and taste to determine the special properties of the plant. Part Four of the book takes a scientific turn. It begins with a concise treatise on formula making, followed by an extensive chart of the prescriptive qualities of plants, a glossary of contraindications for herbal remedies, and a resource list. Don’t let customers miss the section on natural bug repellents, and be sure to let them know that the book is also laced with data on the multi-cultural, magical properties of plants.”
– Retailing Insight, Anna Jedrziewski, April 2016
“Weaving together ancient wisdom, mystical folklore and modern plant research, this book explores the many uses of flowers, trees, common weeds and ornamental plants for food, medicine, spiritual growth and magical rituals. It reveals the herbal lore of each plant, drawing on traditional knowledge and remedies from around the world.…includes recipes throughout.”
– AZnetnews.com, May 2016
“Hopman’s Secret Medicines from Your Garden takes the secrecy out of herbal medicine, and makes it accessible and straightforward for readers of all gardening prowess and healing needs.”
– Spiral Nature, Kait Fowlie, May 2016
“I have old favorites in my book collection, especially amongst my herbals…I've got a new favorite to add to that shelf. This is an excellent primer and highly recommended.”
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