This Weekend – Classes in Howell, NJ

This weekends classes @ Howell, NJ area:

Friday – Family Foraging Class

Saturday – Foraging and Tracking Class

Sunday – Dreaming Techniques Talk and Dream Sharing Circle + Potluck

Details Here

Return to Nature - Foraging and Herbalism School

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Permaculture Podcast Interview

Foraging BurdockRecently, I was a guest on “The Permaculture Podcast with Scott Mann“​.

It was truly a pleasure talking with Scott and we discussed a wide range of aspects in relation to the intersection between foraging and permaculture.

In the write up about the class, Scott Remarks, “One of the points that stuck with me from this conversation is that we are all still members of the natural world, even as much as we feel separated from it at times. We can use foraging and permaculture to reconnect to natural systems and cycles by shifting our time and energy away from commercial production and consumer anesthetics to nourishing traditions of food and community.”

You can listen to the Podcast here:

Or check out the Youtube video with a picture slideshow here.

 And while you’re there, check out their other great interviews and get your permaculture and foraging education on at and if you have facebook check out their page at The Permaculture Podcast

More podcast interviews with Dan can be heard here.

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Developing Set and Setting in Plant Ritual – Audio Recording

Dan Plant Ritual

Here’s the recording of my online talk with Sphinx Mystery School on Feb, 3, 2015.

This class was entitled, “Developing Set and Setting in Plant Ritual.” In this talk I shared aspects and practices to engage plants with simple ceremonies and rituals within the many aspects of working and symbiotizing with the Gaian eco-system. We explored from from allies of the back yard, to the more well-known esoteric beings, ways of deepening our connection to the earth as well as our own healing process and work with others.

From smudging with different plants, to plant sits, smoking and dreaming herbs, herbal medicinals and seeking guidance from the visionary teachers. It was an honor to share in the inspired aspects of communion with our revered plant teachers in such a council. A great question answer session follows the talk.

Check out for more teachings and group dream work.

The previous class I shared at Sphinx Mystery School:

The Yoga of the Natural World” Audio Recording

Click Here for more Podcast recordings and interviews

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The Rabbit vision – Observing a Rabbit Up Close

Rabbit TotemDuring a winter sit spot next to a rabbit hole I was lucky enough to be graced by its presence.

After a few minutes sitting still, he came bounding out, and it was then my work to practice invisibility. In order to get close to animals one must be in a state of utter non-intimidation.

Practices ranging from bodily stillness, careful and calm breathing, graceful non-intimidating eye movement, to even the intensity of thoughts will all effect an animal in an instant; as their life depends on determining if we are honing in our senses upon them and therefore a potential predator. By not setting off these triggers, which becomes a meditation, each animal encounter becomes our teacher of deepening our awareness of how we hold ourselves in the world. It is also a teacher of reminding us how the chaos of our inner lives broadcasts ripples outward and effect others around us. Animals, being so attuned, show us this in a more subtle way than people can.

Deeper still, If we pay attention to what we are feeling and thinking at the moment an animal graces us with its presence, we can learn a great deal about our lives. By comparing our internal state with the symbolism and meaning of each animal, like in a dream, this is the practice of working with animal totems which native people worked with. Rabbit totem is a special messenger. This was the closest I have been to a wild rabbit.

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Gathering Winter Rose Hips

rosamult_frGathering Winter rose hips:

Nature offers an incredible abundance of medicinal plants, if one knows where to look. It takes deep work to abandon the dross of our modern culture, and re-tune our senses to have deep and clear perception of the natural world again. In this article, I’ll be discussing an easily available, and abundant wild plant that you can go out and look for as soon as you finish reading this article.

As I always share through my plant walks, once one learns to navigate through the wall of green that most may see, a mysterious world is revealed. This world, when respected, is one that can, through practice and repetition, gradually become more and more familiar. Within this wall of green, or in this case, white, snow covered area, we will travel to the brambles (thorny places), where there are clusters of beautiful and small little red berries. And in fact, one of them is a wild rose hip.

multiflora rose

Multiflora rose, similar to other roses, develops a hip with many small seeds within itself. In fact, most rose hips can be used, but some are better than others. All rose hips contain Vitamin C;  an antioxidant that shows a large scale action against colds and flu. Remember, the plant itself has engineered these antioxidants, such as vitamin c, within its own body to ensure its protection and survival.

Antioxidants work against free radicals. A free radical cell contains an electron, which goes out of orbit, and eventually explodes through the cell wall, causing a mutation. A mutated cell that reproduces itself is essentially what cancer builds from.

On the borders of the woods, where the lawn meets the hedge, Multiflora rose stands winterweeds_multiflora_rosehips_rsz_diannemachesneyin almost every back yard, hedgerow, and tract of woods. It is so common that most have probably overlooked it as anything utilizable. This particular species, rosa multiflora, which proliferates differently than your more common species of rose bush, gets a bad rap in the biological community, because it is not native to this area, and has a large ability to spread; facilitated by birds and other mammals. However, in a sense, by harvesting, we do our part to keep the “invasive plants” people happy. We become vessels to “eat the weeds” and establish potentials for native biodiversity to spring up.

On your winter walk, when you have found the thick patch of brambles, you first want to look at all the thorny plants, and start to discern. Among them; blackberries, raspberries, wineberries, and smilax, there are clusters of fruits with a small red berry with a crown on it. This is not to be confused with the red berry of oriental bittersweet which divides in four clusters and is a large climbing vine, or Japanese barberry, which has red oblong berries, but are very bitter tasting – yet a good medicinal. Also, both of these plants have their fruits in the spring/summer months. Over the winter only a few plants still produce fruits, multiflora rose being one of the last ones standing. At first, the rose hips start out as a light red colored fruit, but very hard to squeeze, which is an important identification factor. When you can squeeze the berry between your fingers and it smashes, you will have ripe rose hips. Taste them to see if it is a bush that you like the taste of. There is a tremendous variation among each plant. Don’t forget that  some of them can go “bad”, meaning that the sugars within the hip can become fermented. If you eat too many, you might catch a buzz, or get a little nauseous, depending on which comes first…

rose stem with thorns.JPGAfter harvesting and collecting the hips, lay them out to dry on an old screen, or keep them in a paper bag on the dashboard of your car, and shake them up every few hours. After a few days they will be ready for storage. I recommend to use glass ball jars with metal tops and to keep them away from direct sunlight.

You can add these dried rose hips into any tea mix, jam, or desert. Its very easy to work with rose hips in a French press, and they sweeten up other “bitter” yet medicinal herbs. Vitamin C also helps to potentiate other plant phytochemicals, and this is another good reason to add it to a formula. When trying to consume the pulp of the rose hip, it is suggested to first cook and strain out the seeds with a colander. You can also can make jam by adding sugar, honey, or even dates, and recipes are all over the net. Gathering abundant Vitamin C for a winter survival staple is essential, even if you are the biggest meat eater in the world. Apparently, unless you eat goat brains or chinchilla (according to wiki these are the only 2 animal sources of Vit C.), there is no other source of Vitamin C to be had. We know that the lack of Vitamin C was the cause for scurvy, and people died as a result of the inability to get it. How convenient of this humble invasive, yet sweet and delicious rose hip.


A word to the wise – Some people get allergic reactions from consuming plants within the rose family (Rosaceae), and proper awareness and caution should always be taken. Don’t eat any plant you haven’t properly identified, and always start off with a small amount, like an experimental scientist. Asking questions like, “well, I know this one is supposed to be sweet, but its bitter” usually means you have the wrong plant, or have picked the plant at the wrong stage. If you have any questions or need of verification of pics, feel free to email me at – Better to ask than to die =) And remember, when you walk in the woods this winter dress warm!!

Happy Foraging,


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Videos on foraging here

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New Article in “Be Light Living” Magazine

Here is a new article I shared with Be Light Living magazine. In it I discuss aspects of practicing intuition with earth based naturalist practices like foraging, birding, or tracking.

“We can observe Nature; human and ecological, by learning to pay “intuitive attention” to the subtle cues we see, if we devote awareness to it. For example, it is one thing to hear a sound, or touch a thing, but very different to fully pay attention to what we are experiencing and to be able to recall it a few moments, or a few days later; which is actually a very good practice. This is especially important because in the modern society we live in, we are energetically invested in ignoring and de-sensitizing all of the input that comes into the senses; shielding the input sensors so that we don’t go into overload. Yet, in the natural world this is an animals only survival; an animal without this capacity has a different name; that name is dinner. Those are the signs of weakness or gaps in awareness; this is the exact moment when the predator strikes. The hungry predator has been waiting for this breech in attentiveness.”

View the full article here.


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“Return to Nature: The Yoga of the Natural World” Audio Recording

emilys notesHere’s the recording of my talk with Sphinx Mystery School in Jan, 2015.

The class was entitled, “Return to Nature: The Yoga of the Natural World”. In it, I shared and discussed aspects of the RTN philosophy, ways of engaging a deeper connection with nature, and the realization that Gaia is alive. This talk was followed by a great question and answer session.

Big thanks to Emily Brady for sharing her gorgeous notes while listening in.

The class can be heard here:

Or stream from the Sphinx Mystery School site here.

sphinx mystery school

More Return to Nature Podcast classes and interviews can be heard here.

Return to Nature Youtube Channel

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Fermentation + Kombucha: Culture Your Health Video @ NOFA NJ Winter Conference. Jan, 2015

Heres a look at the playlist from my “Fermentation + Kombucha: Culture Your Health” Class at NOFA NJ Winter Conference, January 2015. In it, I discuss many of the relevant aspects of knowing if you truly have a fermented probiotic food, how to make your own, the science behind the health of living and probiotic foods, as well as the alchemical symbolism behind the art of fermentation.

For those who would like to take a fermentation class, I’m looking forward to sharing The Alchemy of Fermentation Class @ Golden Drum in Brooklyn, NY. Feb 28. More info can also be seen on my calender.

 Read more about “Symbiosis with Bacteria” on this article with lots of links posted.

Read more about fermentation practices here.



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Free Radical Media Interviews

Just finished up a new interview with Free Radical Media, which will be coming out next week. Here’s the first interview we did back in 2014. It was a lot of fun and we got to discuss some great topics on everything from the sentience of nature, to botany, to the business behind exotic plant marketing.

And while youre at their site check out their other great podcast interviews with some really inspiring guests! I also got the chance to check out the talk with Susun Weed about herbal practice, not seeing the self as broken, and lots of wonderful herbal gems. Susuns interview can be heard here –

Here’s part one of my interview, more to follow.

The Sentient Intelligence of Nature – Free Radical Media part 1

Make sure to like Return to Natures youtube channel –

and Free Radical Media – Click Here


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The Zen of Chicken of the Woods – New Video

Here’s a video on ethical and sustainable harvest of the Latiporus mushrooms, of which there are 2 or 3 species in North America; namely laetiporus sulphureus, and laetiporus cincinnatus. Commonly known as the chicken of the woods mushroom, this is a beautiful, and relatively easy mushroom to identify. They are amazing in a stir fry, and research has actually been shown that they are active against staph infections, ” All strains demonstrated antimicrobial activity against a wide spectrum of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria during agar and submerged cultivation including methicillin-resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and glycopeptide-resistant strain of Leuconostoc mesenteroides.” –

Check out more videos at the Return to Nature Youtube Channel as well as for upcoming classes and lessons.


More Videos Here

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