herbs and plants

NOT FOR ARACHNOPHOBES (revised)

(some of my wonderful friends are worried that I was bitten by another Recluse Spider.  This is my poem from 2014–not my best–but want you to know, no worries)

 

What is the message of the spider?

Open invitation from the resident

Into a pesticide-free home

Spaces in floorboards

Irresistible to the neighboring swamp

Despite the equalizer AKA feather duster

The spiders come in the night

They always nip me equally

One on each arm

Unless it’s a Recluse

She gets me in a circle of eight

The secret antidote is plantain

Or even aloe for the minor stings

I’ve been injected with venom so many times

That one day I expect to point my wrists at a wall

While cobwebs shoot out

Enabling me to scale the side of the tallest building in Florida

But I know there is a message

I used to fancy that I was SpiderWoman of folklore

Weaving my tales

My fantasies

My fantasies came true for others, not for me

What was the message there?

Observer and recorder of life

But never a recipient of those richly imagined dreams

We Romani are always looking at portents

The Sinte word for the spider storyteller is

“Shpina Paramichari”

She is telling me that the one nip on each arm

Represents balance

Be consistent in life

Be moderate while living

No important revelation

But a painful one

Just weave your life symmetrically

In order to function in harmony

I tend to forget every few years

Guess I need a reminder…

(c) 2014, 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Recluse Spider Web, creative commons

LESSON NOT LEARNED (my thin-skinned reply to a negative reviewer)

Imparting lore, knowledge

To others with love

Plainly stating

This is NOT an herbal reference book

So many of those already available

All different cultures

No

This is 4-planes medicine

Physical, yes, a bit

But also

Emotional

Mental

Spiritual

Roma—Gypsies—did not travel

With huge herbariums

Have you ever lived in a trailer?

I lived in a Fifth Wheel for two years

I lived in a 15-foot travel trailer for more years

There is barely room for everyday necessities

So why would readers/reviewers think

We should copy the great herbals

For your viewing pleasure?

The Gypsy herbarium was in the surrounding forests

In the wild flower fields

In the rivers and streams

But all that changed

I’d never recommend wildcrafting

When plentiful poisons threaten the land

Only basics are tucked lovingly away

In the vurdon—wagon—that is home

No detailed grimoires exist

Most didn’t know how to read or write

The oral tradition served for everyday cures

If more serious, the Witch-in-the-hole

Was consulted

Or the Vrezitorka  (so say my Sinte family)

Or the Chovaxani (so say my Kalderash side)

If the town hid one

There was no pantheon of gods and goddesses

Although sprung from India

Speaking a bastardized version of Sanskrit

Now named “Romanes”

Gypsy Chib

But Mother Earth

Father Sky

And a few household helps

Like the Domovoi

Lived alongside the Gypsies

Whether they traveled or

Unfortunately became slaves

In Eastern Europe

No collection of pharmaceuticals

The lesson is

Portability

What can be carried on the back

Is most important

Even today

Many of us grow

To adulthood

Learning that lesson

Herbs?

Magic Words?

Future paths

To live life joyfully

Contained in the 22 numbers

Of the Drom Ek Romani

That some call the tarot

The day of birth

Reveals your lifetime study

15 is mine

Temptation down the wrong path

Add to get 6

Love thrown in the mix

Read the book

It’s all explained

This past week

It was useful for me to be ill

Helping me remember

The simple cures

Seeing that they still work

That’s the other lesson

Less is better, always…

 

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

Re: Drab Lil: A Gypsy’s Medicine Book © 2014

BABA JAGA BLUES

 

Missing a lot of Aries women who were important in my life and have passed on…

 

Burning sun makes for a Baba Jaga noon

Shining across the Carpathians and into Eastern Europe

Warming the people who invented me

I am the Grandmother of Fire

Face covered in red and orange ashes

My house on two chicken legs

Scratching in the dirt

As a wide band of water rushes between them

Gently tipping the mortar that serves

As a flying vehicle

The pestle is my rudder and

Tracks etched in the sky

Are swept away with a white birch broom

I, Fire Woman, toss out water-cleansed herbs

And the people see earth sailing through the air.

 

No, I do not eat children

That is another fairy tale

From another country

I do have companions:

White horse rider named Day

Black horse rider named Night

Red horse rider named Noon-Time Sun

They decorate the ceiling of my chicken-legged home

Cavorting around the painted firmament

So I do not feel closed in when forced to stay.

 

Like smoke from fire, though

I can sinuously escape through the chimney

Into the real sky

Absorbing more heat and light by day

More stars and coolness by night

Able to traverse the path

Sidewinding around the Galaxy

By map and compass embedded in my brain.

 

What is my purpose here?

Yes, you may ask

Fiery wise woman am I

Guidance is all I offer but

I prefer that you ask no questions

I age for each one asked

Only blue rose tea will reverse my reluctance

To answer, when you truly need help

Purity of spirit, and most of all, politeness count

But you must overcome your fear

To ask and then hear

Solutions to feed your burning need to know.

 

So many false tales about me

I am guilty merely because my preference is

To live alone

In order to think

And be myself

I do not like the image I see

Reflected through others

It is warped and thus murky

Not a true mirror

But no one cares to look deeply into

The mystery of Baba Jaga

Fire Woman, Wise Woman

Who was never a witch or even a clown

Just an old soul trying to translate the Earth

To others…

 

(c) 2014 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja), Poetry of Memory

IMAGE: Baba Jaga, Russie Virtuel

SIBYL OF THE RHINE

 

*scroll down for a YouTube video*

 

Nine hundred years before my birth

Hildegard von Bingen arrived on this Earth

Sent to a convent because of her religious visions

Eleventh Century upheavals:

Gypsies banished from India

Creating a European diaspora

Sharing their knowledge of divination,

Herbs, cures

By oral transmission

William the Conqueror

Banishing Anglo-Saxons

Creating new law codes and the early census

Known as the Domesday Book

While indigenous tribes unknowingly

Lived out their last moments of freedom

In the Americas

Yet keeping alive their own oral traditions

Of spirituality and cosmography

Momentous times for a Renaissance Woman

To appear in Germany

Rising to the position of Abbess

Writing a book about her visions

Composing music on her psaltery

Rivaling Gregorian chants

Writing the book Physica

A classic on health and healing

Writing the book Causae et Curae

A classic on herbs and cures

Leader, reader, writer,

Composer, musician, healer

History moves in spurts

As does knowledge

The dark ages may seem all-consuming

But they are not

Arcane knowledge

Always rises to the top

Like a granular convection

And once again

Buried dreams will be reality

Hold tight

Remember that night

Always fades in the dawn…

 

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

 

https://youtu.be/LJEfyZSvg5c YouTube video Spiritus Sanctus, Hildegard von Bingen

 

IMAGE: Statue of Hildegard in Bingen’s Museum am Strom

 

poetry, sybil, healer, oracle, nun, abbess, herbs, cures, visions, politics, history, renaissance, repression, underground, dark ages, second inquisition, oral histories

SPRING FEVER

 

Cure for Spring fever:

Plant Peppermint for tea

Rub on the dogs’ fleas

Releasing the aroma

Digging dirt glove-free

Earth-stained fingers

Enhancing ukulele-string calluses

That make the music

That sing to the grasses

Youthful madness approaching soon

Sun in Aries

Mars in the Moon

Strengthening me as I whisper farewell

While Orion shifts west

And Crux appears to bless

Earth

Water

Air

Fire

Elements that never fail to

Inspire…

 

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: My new peppermint plants

 

PETER RABBIT’S MEDICINE

 

Somehow, someone is growing chamomile in the subtropics

Skillful fingers crocheting the stems

Into lacy tiaras worn in early summer

Ah, Anthemis nobilis

Linnaeus’ name for Roman Chamomile

A helper or doctor herb

Drying the white and yellow heads

Calming colicky infants or nervous stomachs

Preventive for nightmare

Delirium tremens in early stages

Hysteria and nervousness

Also called the “plant’s physician”

lf other florae are drooping or sickly

They will recover if chamomile placed next to it

Strengthening other herbs and plants

I like that idea but this is why

Vegetarianism makes me uncomfortable

Is there truly a difference

Between killing animals or

Killing plants?

If you are someone able to grow chamomile in the subtropics

You are the one I want to see

Please contact me

With your secret recipe for growing

Anthemis nobilis

Power in a flower…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Aliexpress.com

 

GREEN FRIENDS

 

Growing and sharing my home

Pots of live

Jars of dried

Bottles of extracts

Brewed under New to Full moonlight

Each with their own personality

Hard not to grow a friendship

With such misunderstood healers

Angelica sinensis

Also known by her Chinese name

Dong Quai

A female ginseng

She had Oh Dee’d on her

Utah boy, Ephedra,

Thinking he looked so much like her

China boy, Ma Huang

But the good news

Ignoring the side effect

Of heart arrhythmia

Was that she dropped into a lower baggie size

Saw palmetto

Serenoa repens, in contrast

Is a Florida boy

Serious male prostate herb

He hungrily eyes Angelica S.

But unable to woo her

Until his nature kicks in

Herbs, so good, yet so slow

To heal

Patience required

Capsicum annum

He’s also known as

Cayenne, our favorite chili ingredient

By day

Plant tourniquet

By night

Magical blood hemostat

Saving me from an operation

When I flooded and drank a few teaspoons

Sanguinaria canadensis

Bloodroot

Parts of it banned by the US FDA

All I can say

Is she saved me from a radical

Slash and burn “cure”

Took a while to work

Took a while to heal

But will always be grateful

For Mother Earth’s gifts

Lovingly sharing her friends

With me

And anyone else

Who can see…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: CS with herb table 1993 or so

 

CANNA LILIES

 

Morning walk around Orange Lake

Decorative orange Canna Lilies

Hide their strength

Rhizomes rich in edible starch

Stems and foliage for animal fodder

Young shoots make tasty vegetables

Young seeds enrich tacos

Seeds are beads in jewelry

Or as a gourd rattle in Zimbabwe

In India, fermented for alcohol

Leaf fiber used to make paper

And there is a Burman myth that

An enemy of Buddha tried

Killing him with a boulder

Succeeding only in drawing blood

From Buddha’s toe

The drops nourishing the Earth

Rejuvenating as Canna Lilies

No dumb blonde

This beauty…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Orange Lake Canna Lily

ARTHRITIS REMEDY

 

Can’t strum my ukulele

Or click my mouse

On these damp days

Stuck in the house

 

Here’s my recipe

That will always work

Doesn’t cost much

Surely a perk

 

Three dollar bag of dried chili peppers

Three dollar bottle of virgin olive oil

One dollar pair of garden gloves

Fingers snipped since not using soil

 

Best to do this

When Moon going New to Full

But in emergencies

Extractions still pull

 

Break up ten dried peppers

The oil is where you slip them in

Shake well each day

Hide in a cabinet or dark covered bin

 

After two weeks

Be sure to strain oil

Then you can refrigerate

So it will not spoil

 

Rub it on the aching joints

Or pulled body parts

Within a short time

You’ll feel like an herbalist so smart!

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: My arthritis pain recipe

SWEET EPINEPHRINE

 

The medical community

Stole my secret power

Most of my life

Whether excited

Or experiencing strife

The beautiful rush of adrenaline

Filled my body

Enabling me to live my life

I used it not only for

Fight or flight

Its original evolutionary

Function

But also for writing

Singing, exercise

Waking every morning

Cheerily

To face work

Driving

Drumming on the steering wheel

Speeding along the pre-dawn streets

Now, like Superman’s enemies

The chunk of kryptonite

Not green

But white

Has been removed

From the lead box

(Disguised as a pill bottle)

Its new name is beta-blocker

And it steals adrenaline

Slows down the heart

Like Superman

I feebly found the source

Struggled to return the remnant

Of my home planet

Into the container

And once again I could fly

See through walls of lies

But then

But then

So unlike Superman

Who always immediately recovered

The adrenaline was puzzled

Didn’t know what to do

Whacked-out roaming

Around my body’s myriad highways

So I took the kryptonite

Out of its protective box

But just a little

Just a little hit

To help my heart

Jumpstart

My other secret power is

I am not afraid to die

(Though no lie, afraid of pain)

But I will not give away my adrenaline

Ever again

I search for the magic elixir

In the Earth:

Is it garlic, onion, cayenne?

Give me sweet epinephrine

Or give me oblivion…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: from the blog of kugelmass.wordpress.com