Wild Cherries – Homework

Check back on this page for monthly homework assignments for our 2022 Intro to Herbal Medicine class.

Turning in Your Homework

Homework can be turned in in person, emailed to homework@wildcherries.org (to share privately with the teachers), or uploaded to the shared google drive (to make it available to the whole class).

For September

If you haven’t done the readings/videos for August — this is your month to catch up!

End of Year Presentation

If you haven’t already picked a topic and sent it to us, please do ASAP!!! If you’re not sure what you’d like to do, get in touch and we can hash it out.

Additional homework:

Medicine Making

Make a flower essence! And then, later, do a plant sit with it.

Anatomy & Physiology

Based on observing your tongue, pick an herb to take (almost) every day until next class, to help make a gentle energetic shift. Check in on your tongue throughout the month, noting and changes! (If you pick an herb and it’s not making you feel good, don’t feel like you have to keep taking it!)

Some examples:
– for tongues with a lot of red, or dark red bumps, consider a bitter (like artichoke or dandelion leaf) or something anti-inflammatory (like turmeric, willow or blueberries)
– for tongues that look very pale, consider a warming or blood-building herb (like ginger, cinnamon or dong-quai)
– for tongues that look very dry, consider a moistening herb (like marshmallow, soaked chia seeds or slippery elm bark)
– for tongues that look boggy, with blue or lavender colors, consider something that moves blood (like yarrow, ginger, hawthorn or rosemary)
– for tongues with a very thick, perhaps slightly yellowish or brownish coat, or scalloped edges, consider an aromatic bitter (like cardamom, ginger, fennel, lavender or angelica)

For August

Media – Ableism

Ableism Reflection Activity

After watching/listening to/reading some or all of the media, go process with a plant. Share what you were reading about, share your feelings and reactions, ask the plant what it thinks and what it wants you to know about it.

End of Year Presentation

In November, we’ll have time to present on a topic of our choosing to our classmates! This can be in the form of a powerpoint, a lecture, an experiential activity, a reading, a writing, a demonstration… the list is endless. We want you to engage in a topic that peeks your interest and to share that with each other in some form. Your homework for this month is to come up with a topic that you’re interested in and email it to us — we’ll give feedback and suggestions and help you narrow down your topic if needed!

Materia Medica

  • Spend time with mullein, yarrow, or another plant we talked about in class. Sit with the plant. Try different ways of bringing the medicine from the plant into your life.

Plants ID & Botany

  • Find six new plants you don’t know! Key them out!

For July

Racism in Health Care

This Racism is Killing Me Inside, Code Switch, 1/10/2018 (podcast – 31 minutes)

Blue Pill (on MDMA-based therapy for black folks for healing racial trauma and PTSD), The Nod, 2/4/2019 (podcast – 39 minutes)

Rest as Reparations with Tricia Hersey of The Nap Ministry, Irresistible Podcast, episode 40 (podcast – 1 hour)

Why Racism, Not Race, Is a Risk Factor for Dying of COVID-19, interview with ​​Camara Phyllis Jones in Scientific American (7 pages)

Dr. Rhea Boyd, The Safety Net-work: An Anti-Racist Imperative for Public Health Data, 2019 All In National Meeting (video – 64m)

Roots of African American Herbalism, From the Herbal Academy (21 pages)

Body Practices

From My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menkem, pages 63-65 and 77 and 78

Readings for White People in the Class (Optional for People of Color)

The Sugar Coated Language of White Fragility, by Anna Kegler (12 pages)

Writing Prompts to use if you’ve been accused of white fragility, spiritual bypass or white privilege, by Leesa Renee Hall (12 pages)

Reflection Questions

  • What parts of these articles/recordings feel painful for you?
  • What parts make you want to act differently?
  • What parts left you with more questions and things you want to think more about or spend more time with?
  • Are there parts that you had a hard time with or disagree with?
  • What did you learn about yourself?

Materia Medica

  • Try a tea, tincture, or snack on a plant that we’ve talked about in class – using the grounding and listening techniques we’ve been practicing. Spend an hour with it (or at least 15 minutes), and write down any notes about your observations.

Plants ID & Botany

  • Find six new plants you don’t know! Key them out!

Anatomy & Physiology

  • If it feels welcome, bring some mindfulness to your digestion this month. Some ways you might do this are:
    • For one or more meals a day (or a week), eat slowly and mindfully, without talking, reading, watching a show, driving a car, etc. Try to slow the experience down as much as possible, noticing the smells and sights of your food, the feeling in different parts of the mouth, the nuances of the flavor, the feelings as you swallow the food, the impulses to take another bite or not to, the ways the food continues down your alimentary canal, and so on.
    • Inspect your poop every day. Notice the details of the texture, consistency, color, etc. Notice how it changes. Track it. Write about it. Paint it.
    • Keep a food journal, noting what you eat for each meal/snack, as well as other salient qualities of the meal (eg. how you ate, how you were feeling when you eat), as well as tracking certain other symptoms (eg. indigestion, gas, mood, body pain, sleep quality)
    • Experiment with eating certain foods or not eating certain foods for a week, several weeks, or any set period of time. See what you notice.
    • Try taking a bitter or aromatic bitter before or after meals, and see how your feel. Or try an enteric nervine. Or try different herbs every day, every week, etc!
    • Or find your own way to pay closer attention!
  • Formulate and try out your digestive tea blend!  If you don’t need a digestive tea, try out one digestive herb and see how it is for you.  
    • When you formulate, pick out the actions you want (like carminative, anti-spasmodic, warming, relaxing, etc) and then pick herbs that fit the actions you need, review the formula for taste (adding in things like cinnamon, chamomile, cardamon, anise hyssop, etc or substituting herbs in your formula)
    • Try out the tea.  How do you like it?  How does it taste?  What does it do?  Does it help?

Change Work

  • Wild tending observations: identify a wild space you want to care for and develop your relationship with close to where you live. Spend time observing and exploring this area, connecting with the plants and other living beings there. Decide on and write down ways that you want to support the wild life of this space.

For June

Readings – Fatphobia

Video/Audio – Fatphobia

  • This American Life, Episode 589: Tell Me I’m Fat (audio – 67 min)
    • (We feel the interviews in this episode are really meaningful, but we apologize for subjecting you to Ira Glass’ commentary, which we find unbearable.)
  • Maintenance Phase, The Body Mass Index (audio – 69 min)Apple Podcasts, Spotify
  • The Roxanne Gay Agenda, Best of Hear to Slay: The Fat Tax, w/ Sabrina Strings and Sonya Renee Taylor (audio – 78 min) – Apple Podcasts

Reflection Questions

  • What parts of these articles/recordings feel painful for you?
  • What parts make you want to act differently?
  • What parts left you with more questions and things to you want to think more about or spend more time with?
  • Are there parts that you had a hard time with or disagree with?
  • What have you internalized from growing up in a fatphobic culture? How has this affected your relationship to your body, to food, to exercise, to clothing/style? How has it influenced your relationship to other peoples bodies?

Materia Medica

  • Spend more time with skullcap, lemon balm, chamomile, lavender, or another nervine plant. (In Pittsburgh, you can get herbs at Cutting Root’s stall at the Bloomfield Market, or at the East End Food Coop.) Do another “plant sit” like we did in class, starting with a body scan (there are a couple of links below), then quietly and slowly feeling the effects of the tea or tincture in your body. How does it feel similarly, how does it feel different? How do you feel different if you take it more casually?
  • Formulate one or more teas or tinctures to support your mental health. Extra credit: make these formulas and take them for a spin!

Plants ID & Botany

Key out five more plants that you haven’t keyed out.

  • Visit and tend the MLK Garden. The garden needs to be watered and weeded, and it’s also a space for you to learn about how these different plants actually grow from seed or seedling to full-size plants. Please visit the garden at least once before our next class. And please send us all pictures of our babies!

Anatomy & Physiology

  • Last month we talked about mental and emotional health. Before our next class take some time to examine how your mental and emotional health interacts with your other body systems. At least one time this month examine how the way you’re feeling in your head/heart affects your respiratory system, your immune system, and one other system of your choice. Do you have physical feelings that result from your emotional health? Where do these feelings reside in your body? How can feeling the physical sensation of an emotion help us work with that emotion?

Change Work

  • Do some kind of anti-capitalist care event for your community. This can be anything — giving extra care to someone in your life, writing or making art and sharing it online, showing up for demonstrations, making medicine or resources to help people in this moment. We’re leaving it very open ended. We’d love to hear about what you do!

For May

Capitalism, Mental/Emotional Health

Reflection – pick two or more of these questions to think/write about

  • What parts of these articles/recordings feel painful for you?
  • What parts make you want to act differently?
  • What parts left you with more questions and things to you want to think more about or spend more time with?
  • Are there parts that you had a hard time with or disagree with?
  • How has capitalism shaped how you think about your own health?
  • How do your ideas about health perpetuate health stigmas?
  • How do we build anticapitalist care networks?
  • How do the stigmas around mental illness affect your relationship to your own emotional health?
  • Make a “Mad Map” of your mental states and the supports that are helpful in different states. (You can do this by/for yourself, or do it with people who you are in relationship with.) You can use this guide, Mapping our Madness: A workbook for navigating crisis, extreme states, or just foul moods, as a worksheet or as a starting place, or the practice from the healing justice podcast, in English or Spanish

Materia Medica

  • Seek out plantain or violet — finding it in the world, observing, keeping it company, eating it, using the medicine, meditating with it, daydreaming about it. Write about your experience.
    • If you pick the flowers or leaves, notice how it feels to do so. Notice the impact you have on the spot the plant is growing. Also be mindful that you’re not eating plants from a location that’s likely to be polluted with lead or chemicals!
  • Bonus: Make a tea from fresh violet flowers! Add a little lemon, and watch the color change! Cool! Take a video of it and post it to the slack!

Plants and Botany

  • Key out five plants. (Turn in a sample or drawing of the plant, plus the steps you took in newcombs and your id.)

Anatomy & Physiology

  • Spend some more time with your skin.  What does your skin need?  Are there herbs you could use or routines you could practice to nurture your skin? Think about different applications (soaks, scrubs, lotions, oils), energetics (hot, cool, damp, dry) and herbal actions (liver support, nutritive, antifungal, antioxidant, etc).  Try out your ideas!

Change Work

  • What does care look like in your life, and the lives of people you care about? How can we give and receive the best care possible? What are the barriers? What are the resources we have for our care or to share with other people?
  • What role do you feel more comfortable in: a caregiving role or a care-receiving role?  Reflect on that. How could you feel more comfortable in both roles?

For April

Change Work

  • Revisit the intentions you wrote in class. Spend some time with them, daydream about them, change them or add to them if you desire.
  • Tend to your class altar.

Wildcrafting

Cultural Appropriation

Reflection

Write ½-1 page about a family healing tradition you grew up with.

Pick two or more questions from these suggestions that you feel drawn to to answer:

  • What parts of these articles/recordings feel painful for you?
  • What parts make you want to act differently?
  • What parts left you with more questions and things to you want to think more about or spend more time with?
  • Are there parts that you had a hard time with or disagree with?
  • Wildcrafting:
    • What ways do you strive to or want to practice a culture of gratitude?
    • What are ways you want to have relationships with wild plants that don’t involve gathering them?
    • The “Leave it for Native People” video talks about why non-indigenous people shouldn’t harvest white sage. Are there plants in your area that you think should not be wildcrafted, for ecological, spiritual or ethical reasons?
  • Cultural appropriation:
    • Write ½ to 1 page about a family healing tradition
    • What are the impacts on us when our cultural practices are appropriated? What healing do we need around that?
    • What are the impacts on us when our cultural practices are lost, and what healing do we need around that?

Materia Medica

Seek out wild cherry! Spend time with this tree, visit it, sit with it, smell it, hug it, make a tea of it, climb it, run your fingers over its bark. What do you feel and notice when you spend time with it? What features do you notice? What other creatures do you notice interacting with cherry? What role does it play in its interspecies community?

Energetics

  • For one meal, think and write about the energetics of each food in your meal –
    • What are the flavors you notice, thinking about the five basic flavors (sweet, salty, bitter, sour, pungent/spicy), and any others you want to describe
    • Is the food hot or cold? Dry or damp? Does it seem slow or fast?
    • If it feels ok, spend some time noticing how the food feels in your mouth.
    • Where do you feel the food in your body? How do you feel 15 minutes after eating? An hour? (Set a timer!)
  • (Optional) Do this for a breakfast, a lunch, a dinner, a snack (it doesn’t have to be all in one day)

Plants and Botany

Go look at trees, choose two trees and spend 15 minutes with each tree.  Observe. Write down all the observations you make of the tree so that someone else could go find that tree.  

Anatomy & Physiology

  • In april we’re talking about skin! Think about:
    what is the energetics of your skin?
    what does your skin do for your body?
    what are ways your skin gets injured?
  • Do something nice for your skin! (eg. oil it, lotion it, soak it, appreciate it, say loving things to it)

Miscellaneous!

  • Get on the slack! Find the #introductions channel and post an introduction!
  • Try connecting to the google drive

Past Homework Assignments from Bygone Years