Notes from Dans Travels in California: Birds Bathing in the Malibu lagoon

Birds Bathing in the Malibu lagoon:

Cali BirdsToday, after seeking campsites and natural areas along the California coast, I found myself in the Malibu Lagoon. It was mesmerizing to see where all the birds come to do their rituals, hundreds of seagulls, and pelicans. I watched as the seagulls and pelicans bathed in the shallow waters. As I realized what was happening, I took out my binoculars and tracked one Seagull as it literally went one by one to several bathing stations, and an organized bathing system gently revealed itself. It was a task to keep focused on one seagull of so many, and as I contemplated the fiasco, I realized how important it is, biologically, for nature to mix up genes and offer a color mutation or variation which would enable someone to track and observe them. This would enable more people to see such a thing. If there was one black seagull, we could track its behavior and intent. Again a sign how the magic of diversity in nature can teach us so much, if we ask the right questions. One question, how do they collectively know to do such a thing?

As I studied and focused in on this one, I watched it go from a self-dunking station, where every bird was bobbing and undulating to get water all over themselves, to the wading area to pluck each damaged feather systematically in shallow water. It seemed like this little bit of water helped to get the feathers off their beak.  They then would fly to the beach to preen and clean themselves, to shake and fluff their entire bodies. The whole ritual probably takes each seagull about an hour, and I was amazed that I never even considered that such a thing occurred. It reminded me of being in India where the scene on the Ganga is always occurring in the same, people bathe in droves in the same way. This is a kind of community cleansing, and within it there is an intelligent, sophisticated and organized ritual, which literally is self-known and self-broadcast throughout the species. This kind of field knowledge is profound to watch, and would never be seen without a careful and systematic attempt to ask the right questions. Where does this organized intention come from?

California Wetlands Habitat borderThe pelicans do the same thing. They have their own rhythm and ritual, as they have evolved long beaks, something unique to them which is a biological innovation perhaps dating to millions of years ago.  I watched astonished as a pelican cleaned its entire body with the back of its head and its beak, reaching every space around its body. Of course!  It was a miraculous yoga to see it move and turn those million-year-old muscles that it evolved in its neck for the purpose.


Plant Blessings,


Feb 1, 2016

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Persimmon Power – A Favorite Forageable Fruit

The Power of Persimmon:

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Here’s a look at one of the most delicious and long forgotten wild fruits, indigenous to this area. This is the American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana).

While Asian persimmon is commonly found in grocery stores, this wild American counterpart goes virtually ignored. This is largely because when unripe, the American persimmon is extremely astringent and will pucker your whole mouth like you just tried to eat sand paper, and I suspect many have tried and been shocked by their foraging experiment. This action is important to understand and is due to tannic acid (same as in acorns), which is profoundly helpful in cases where astringency is needed, but not so great in the mouth. However, with some understanding of plant cycles and chemistry, after the American persimmon ripens it is sweet like cotton candy. Once ripened they are much sweeter than the Asian persimmons, which can be eaten unripe with no tannic effect.

The primary issue with eating ripe american persimmons is that they must be soft and mushy, usually somewhat unpleasant looking to those who expect “grocery store perfection”. For them to go soft, they require usually a few weeks of cold conditions which “blets” them. One of the main ways I test if they are ready is that you can pop the top off, which is called the calyx.

This kind of tracking and watching plants turn edible requires awareness as well as skill harvesting and processing techniques, secrets once commonly known but now almost lost to a “corporate food system” mentality.

Persimmon oats borderOne of my favorite ways to eat persimmon is adding them to oatmeal and mashing them up. I will soak oats overnight and add a handful of these as an amazing and healthful sweetener. They are so sweet an delicious that even with plain oats alone it becomes delicious and no sugar is required. They are like a date replacement and can be eaten right off the tree, or added to any dish to sweeten them.

To find persimmon, look for them along hedgerows and old farmsteads. They are also easier to find in the fall when the leaves have dropped but a tremendous amount of persimmon are still holding on to the tree (shake carefully). Consider, that they are along hedgerows because back in the generation of when most of these trees were born, it was considered sane to plant fruit trees on ones property! Who would have thought?!

dan persimmon border

Praise the power of the persimmon!

Forage safely and responsibly,







You can also check out my youtube video entitled, “Foraging for Persimmon” here:

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The Bridge with Kira featuring Dan de Lion – New Podcast

Here’s a listen from a podcast conversation I had with Kira at the Peoples Internet Radio

In it we discuss a range of topics from foraging and what got me into foraging, the practice and theory of herbalism, awakening to being a global culture, engaging the sacred in nature, creating local infrastructure for coming earth changes, and then Kira asked about all my upcoming projects including the plant mandala project and dream group, plus my yurt van Kickstarter plan! Looking forward to visit her wonderous family next time I head south.

Click here to listen:

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Medicine Mandala Ritual @ Farm and Forage Fest – November 2015

mandala 3 - borderWe completed last Sunday’s plant walk with a pine powered plant mandala ritual in which we all worked the energy of the land, bringing in many of the sacred medicinal plants discussed during the plant walk, and harmonizing and balancing the energies with the directions.

All who were at the class were invited to begin the ritual with taking a handful of needles from the pine branches that had recently fallen, and to step deeply into their instincts and intuition as we all took 3 deep inhales. As the medicine set in, we also discussed doing limpiya with the pine bows, which is world wide healing technique to clean the energetic field with plants by rubbing them along the energetic field to wipe off psychic debris. And the pine also helped students remember the power of wreaths, of then we were able to connect that origins of wreath making were as a sacred and protective amulet for the house.

As they imbibed the medicine of pine and awakened their olfactory senses the feeling of transformation of our individual as well as group consciousness expanded as the energy shifted into a palpable sacred space. Inspired, some began to offer pine cleanings to each other quite naturally, as we joked about the real secret of “pinesol” and many naturally tickled each other’s faces with the soft pine and nurturing and intimacy was spontaneous. It was Incredible to see the space open up naturally as the medicine of pine entered them and worked through everyone in the ways it needed.

From there we first created a circle with the pine boughs and began to forage and find whatever called to each of us to add it within the circle. Once the larger group had added what they felt called, it was insightful to see the asymmetrical nature of what was made, and that it felt somewhat fragmented; this was a sign that the work had just begun, and was not yet complete. By taking the time to observe and sense it, this was a way of “reading” the unfamiliar territory of the group like an oracle; a map of our ability to work together as one.

In this way, we were able to watch the capacity for the medicine circle and ritual develop in a completely new vision.

mandala 1 - borderOnce all had contributed what they felt into the sacred circle we sat there observing and feeling it, I began to continue to work with sensing the mandala and adjusted the 4 sticks to align with the directions so that we could feel the shift, and asked how it may have shifted anyone. This enabled the subtle perceptual shifts of creating balance to be felt tangibly by all, and it invited everyone to continue to read, perceive, and work the circle into harmony, to sense, and to deepen coming into harmony as a community.

From there, others felt inspired to continue to play. Emily and Alicia helped to continue to work the symmetry, Emily kneeling and putting such deep care into it felt like she was nurturing the mandala like a mother bird making a bird’s nest for her earth children to come and gather. Then Nick offered a bundle of feathers, poke berries, and goldenrod, all tied in a bouquet, of which we put in the center as the offering, and placed 2 sacred shells that he collected from the shore which are sacred wampum shells to the native people of this land. In these 2 offering shells, I saw the balance of masculine and feminine; the alchemical wedding; the balance of yin and yang, shiva and shakti. I then proceeded to enliven the mandala with offering waters inside the shells as a feeding of the land and ancestors spirits, to nourish and invite them to come alive by these waters.

Christine added a drop of rose water into the shells, and we also ingested some as prasad of the sweetness of our offering. We did the magic works including all who were there and sealed and completed it as we circled around with a group OM chant.

mandala 2 - borderAt this time I envisioned and internally invoked the pillar up into the heavens to make the portal to once again invite our ancestors to the land to work and heal it, and so that we may again receive their guidance as all held space.

Thankful to all who came and shared, and contributed your love and magic to the circle.

This is sacred, this is medicine, this is community. The land is awakened by our acts.

This is the birth of a new sacred activism.

Plant blessings everywhere,



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Foraging and Herbalism Retreat @ Ananda Ashram – Part 1 – Intro

Return to Nature – Foraging and Herbalism Retreat @ Ananda Ashram – October 16-18 – This is the workshop introduction where we explore a mugwort opening ritual and plant sense meditation aspects.

Throughout the weekend we explored many levels of engagement with the ecosystem, including topics such as Ayurveda principles (constitutional healing and taste), and Paleolithic sense meditations, foraging and herbal philosophy, Inner child work, Foraging and plant identification, Dreamtime with plants under our pillows with a breakfast mugwort dream share, Medicine making and magic practice, theory, and ritual, astrology, sadhana, Plant sits, and closed with a plant medicine mandala.

I’m looking forward to take these teachings and rituals nationally and globally in 2016! Starting with a winter visit to the west coast. More on that soon – If youre in the area, let’s collaborate and make magic together!

Stay tuned-in to upcoming classes, workshops, and retreats at

Much love,

instagram: returntonature

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Foraging the Shaggy Mane Mushroom

Here’s a look at the shaggy mane mushroom – coprinus comatus –

This mushroom is a delicious edible of the genus coprinus (the inky caps).

All coprinus have a very unique “self digestion” mechanism in which their cap turns into it’s own spores and decomposes as a mass which can be carried away and transported by insects, hence the name inky cap.

These mushrooms are great when picked before decomposing and can be sautéed into any dish that calls for mushrooms, including mushrooms and eggs, or any Thai or Indian style curry.

There are several other coprinus that range from inedible to questionable so always forage carefully and have an expert help confirm your identifications.

Happy Foraging,


You can see many more foraging articles here
Join in the foraging fun on facebook: Returntonatureskills

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Family Foraging Class: Class Reflection

Family Foraging Class BorderToday at our family plant walk we discussed the resilient power of nature and how to see that with many examples such as the plants that were sticking out of the sidewalk in the poison ivy that was again taking over the area. We put on our psychic future sunglasses and we allowed ourselves to see what would occur in the hundreds of years and 10,000 years, and that the same very tip of the poison ivy vine called the meristem, would lead the way in the return to nature as the children of the world change their perceptions and become adults.

We talked of some other plants including mugwort and broadleaf dock, and talked of the magic healing of sassafras with a beautiful root to deepen our medicine senses. We then headed into the forest.

The first friend we saw there was a stand of big beautiful black birch trees in which we smelled deeply and everybody used as a toothbrush, we talked of the alchemy of making roots beer with the families as rituals, and envisioned how these ancient beverages were made. dental hygiene for children is easy when you play in nature and chew on sticks .

From there I climbed a tree barefoot to try to get at some of the younger twigs to share with everyone, in which I showed them my new favorite yoga position: raccoonasana – from there when I asked the children what they wanted to do all of them answered that they wanted to climb trees too. We then took a careful moment to assess the area and find a wonderful group of trees to play with.

We spent the next hour climbing trees barefoot and smiling. It was truly a joy to watch the innate ability of children to just climb up and down trees so gracefully, perhaps it is our adult doubts that get in our way.

From there we all ended up in the middle of the trail, discussing the power of homeschooling, nature play, making Mandalas, and any questions the parents wanted to ask. The kids were joyously like a busy bees collecting and digging sassafras roots so they can all take them home and drink the secret medicine that has been drink on this land for perhaps millions of years.

As we enjoyed each other’s company, spontaneously several children and I began to deeply touch and work with the soil. Moving it back and fourth between our hands and Feeling the coolness and it’s familiarity, I then reminded them that they were indeed playing with Stardust. I asked one child why she felt called to touch the soil she exclaimed, “because it feels great”.

From there the children joyously began to rub it all over their feet and their legs and we let them. We let them rub and rub the soil of the earth upon their legs and their feet and they began to turn brown; they are the Earth children and they knew it.

After we all caked up with the power of the earth, I shared with them the significance that indeed this ancient ritual would have been repeated every time our tribe would go out and hunt and stalk animals. They realized how important it was to take away their sheen which the animals watch for if they were in a hunting scenario.

They were camouflaging naturally. Preparing for what work lies ahead. Warriors of the earth, every single one of them.

Plant medicine blessings ,


Family foraging border

I’ll be posting a video of us playing in the soil in this magic moment mentioned on my Instagram: returntonature which will also end up on the Rtn fb page at

To donate to the return to nature teaching mission and outreach please PayPal to – all donations go to further spreading nature education to children and adults.

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New Podcast Interview on Lyme Ninja Radio

tick chart borderHeres a new podcast interview on Lyme Ninja Radio with Dan in which he discusses herbal remedies for lyme, living outside, and tick awareness…

#55: Survivalist, Naturalist, Herbalist Dan De Lion On Surviving Lyme Naturally

Check out more links on Lyme: 

Lyme Links

Dans podcast on Lyme with Free Radical Media

Teasel Magic and Lyme Spirochetes – RTN Article

Checking for Ticks While Outside – RTN Video

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Foraging and Herbalism Retreat @ Ananda Ashram


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Beating the Fall Blues – Six Simple Tips to Transition into Fall

Here is a collaborative article on 6 steps to help you transition from Summer into Fall. with Dan De Lion,​ Antinanco Earth Arts School,​ and Be Light Living.​

Sassafras Leaf 1

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