THE WALKING HERBALIST PODCAST – Episode 42 (Special Edition): Meet Herbalists Katja Swift and Ryn Midura

katryn-tatsThis Special Episode of The Walking Herbalist Podcast features herbalists Katja Swift and Ryn Midura. This awesome husband and wife duo are proprietors of The CommonWealth Center For Holistic Medicine! You can check out their website here!

Mindy and Marc chatted with Katja and Ryn in April 2016 on their newly acquired land in Royalston Massachusetts.


Join us while we discover how this amazing couple first met, how they got into herbalism, the struggles and successes of starting and maintaining an herbalism practice, and much, much more!

Enjoy the show!




THE WALKING HERBALIST PODCAST – EPISODE 20. The “Spring Herbalism Day-Off” & Garlic Mustard Episode

The Herb Nugget challenges us to balance work and play, and make sure you enjoy these rare Spring Days! Our book buying spree continues with an aqcuisition of the works of modern herbal masters, including works by Susun Weed, Matthew Wood, Rosemary Gladstar, and Margi Flint. In fact, when we purchased Margi Flint’s text book The Practicing Herbalist, we called Earthsong Herbals and spoke with Margi’s lovely assistant, Erin, who let us know of an upcoming event in Marblehead, MA: The Synergy of Practice with Emphasis on Muscular and Skeletal & Pain and Inflammation on May 12-May 15. This event will be taught by Kay Parent, Matthew Wood, and Margi Flint! So if New Englanders (or beyond!) are looking for a little face-time with these renowned herbalists, this could be your chance!

Marc’s “Herb of the Podcast” is Allaria petiolata — Garlic Mustard! Yup, that ubiquitous, invasive weed that we all love to hate. Tasty in salads, with some medicinal properties, Marc teaches us all about it.

Mindy’s “Backed by Science” research article is: Cipollini D, Gruner B. Cyanide in the Chemical Arsenal of Garlic Mustard, Allaria petiolata. J Chem Ecol (2007)33: 85-94. This article discusses the significant amount of cyanide detected in garlic mustard leaves—something to give a bit of a pause for wild food foragers!

The Book Review discusses Matthew Wood’s modern classic Seven Herbs: Plants as Teachers. This book is a great starting place for flower essence practitioners and those interested in the spirituality & philosophy of plant medicine. Click the link to read our full review.

The Worldwide Herbal and Foraging News articles for this episode are this one on preschoolers learning outside, this one on robot farmers, and this one (from Marc’s Alma Mater, SUNY Oswego!) on a proactive businesswoman, Tessa Edick, who is trying to entice more farmers into the agriculture business.

Enjoy the Show!

REVIEW: Seven Herbs – Plants as Teachers

By Mindy

Summary: Philosophical and spiritual healing journey of an archetypal life path that connects herbalism, the Bible, and the medical teachings of the Ojibwe Native American tribe. Incredible insight into the mind of a flower essence practitioner.

Written three decades ago by master herbalist, Matthew Wood, “Seven Herbs: Plants as Teachers” is a pioneering work on present day herbalism. A philosophical and spiritual exercise by which almost random-seeming plants are partnered with biblical stories, this book offers insight into the thought process of homeopathic and flower essence practitioners.

Click on the photo link to to buy this book and we will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you!

The book is a quick read in some ways. Only 124 pages of well-spaced text, I easily completed it in a few sittings. Three introductory chapters (“Plants as Teachers”, “The Seven Guideposts”, and “Herbs and Healing”) set the stage for the mental excursion through seven separate yet intertwined allegories based on the Old Testament’s Book of Genesis.

The basis for this book is Native American lore, namely teachings of the Ojibwe tribe (which Wood had the pleasure to study with) “that there are seven steps on the path of life”.  Wood illustrates each of these steps, which he dubs “Guideposts” with a plant and a story (and in particular a person or people) from The Book of Genesis. The claim is that each guidepost most be completed in order for life to be fulfilled and completely experienced. Each guidepost is highly archetypal and generalizable, thus describing the universal pathway of life.

The healing arts are then integrated into these individual journeys. Matthew Wood assigns the use of each of the seven plants (as a flower essence I believe) as a support for clients that are stuck at, or working their way through, these phases of life. He documents his thought process, how to recognize what guidepost a client is experiencing, and the successes of his herbal recommendations.

“Seven Herbs” is a short book, and a quick read. But, it is a book that I could not absorb thoroughly my first time through. Even as I was reading it, I understood that I would need to read it again. It is a philosophical, spiritual, mental, and emotional journey through the world of plants. An introduction to flower essences, homeopathy, and shamanism. An odd intermingling of the bible, herbalism, and Native American traditions. It is a book that cries to be read over and over again, with the promise that it contains deep wisdom for those who want to see it. I strongly recommend it to those who are considering adding flower essences to their herbalism practice.

Getting ready to start your seeds? Check out our lecture on Indoor Seed Starting for the Urban Gardener!

Note: The Walking Herbalist is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This means that Marc will receive a small commission for each purchase on Amazon that you make after linking to it from this website. 

The Walking Herbalist has no affiliation of the authors or the publishers of this book at the time of the writing of this review. We purchased our own copy of this book for our own private use. This review is simply here to help our readers put together their own herbalism library, and other than possible commissions as an affiliate, we receive no compensation for this.