Wild Cherries – Homework

Check back on this page for monthly homework assignments for our 2021 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 August

Patriarchal Medicine

The Racist and Sexist History of Keeping Birth Control Side Effects Secret by Bethy Squires (8 pages)
Alternately, a past student made an audio recording of this piece for us – 12 minutes

Optional (if the first reading was surprising for you and you want to be more upset)
The ‘Father of Modern Gynecology’ Performed Shocking Experiments on Slaves by Brynn Holland (7 pages)

The following two writings on the history of the American Medical Association and how it strategically destroyed women’s roles in healthcare and healing. The first writing is very Eurocentric and doesn’t include a comprehensive history around practitioners and healers of color in the USA. We’ve included the article about race and the AMA to add some parts of that history, but haven’t found a comprehensive resource covering both. The brief history that the Witches, Midwives, Nurses covers of the destruction of lay healers and witches in Europe, can also be traced into any culture around the globe that was colonized by Europeans — one of the first tactics in colonization is to destroy healers and their knowledge. (Also note that the writing is a booklet and you follow the pages starting on the right cover to the diagonal left, then right etc. once you get to the bottom, you read it right to left moving back up. Sorry for how annoying that is!)

Witches, Midwives and Nurses by Barbara Ehrenreich (68 very short pages, plus a 25 page introduction you can read if you want)
Or listen to this (77 minutes) or this (92 minutes) audio recording

The American Medical Association and Race by Robert B. Baker, PhD (10 pages)

Envisioning Black Feminist Voodoo Aesthetics: African Spirituality in American Cinema by Kameelah L. Martin (2 paragraphs)

The culture war between doctors and midwives, explained by Ranjani Chakraborty
(6 minute video)

Where did all the granny midwives go? (4 minute video)

Not required, but if you want to watch Mary Coley’s 1953 film it is on the youtube:
All My Babies- A Midwifes Own Story (54 minute video)

As one example of healing work outside the patriarchal model:
Plants are our ancestors: Bespoken Bones Podcast with guest Atava Garcia Swiecicki (audio – 47 minutes)

Reflection Questions

  • To prepare for our class discussion, where are places you see people practicing health care in contrast to the patriarchal model?
  • 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?

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!

Plants ID & Botany

Take some time to do some garden care at our community garden.

Materia Medica

Pick one herb that we are growing in the student garden.  Research this plant! Use the research tools we’ve discussed.  Is it easy and fun to research medicinal herbs?

For July

Media – Ableism

Reflection Question

  • 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!
  • Share a reportback with us in whatever you want!

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

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?

Fresh Air

  • What do you observe about the interviewer’s/host’s unconscious bias in her questions to Lizzo? What was being revealed?
  • What do you observe in your body when Lizzo responds to the questions?
  • At the beginning of the interview, the host asks Lizzo about her album cover and Lizzo responds, you’re asking that because I am fat.  And the host responds defensively making an excuse for why she asked the question.  What do you think would have been a better response?  Or what would you have liked the host to say instead?

Materia Medica

  • Spend more time with skullcap. (In Pittsburgh, you can get some 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?
    —- AND/OR —-
    Do a plant sit with a different nervine herb. See how that experience feels different or similar.

Plants ID & Botany

  • Key out five more plants that you haven’t keyed out.
  • Pittsburghers: Take some time to do some garden care at 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

  • 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 dandelion 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 not likely to be polluted with lead or chemicals!
  • 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

  • Make a real or imaginary first aid kit for a situation in your life (eg. workplace, backpacking, child care, etc.). Draw or write a description of your kit and why you included the things that you did.

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 a whole 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