MELLOW YELLOWS: Nance Klehm on dandelion wine

“Weedeater” – a column by Nance Klehm

Originally published in Arthur Magazine No. 29/May 2008

MELLOW YELLOWS

I first tasted dandelion wine when I bought a bottle of it at a folksy gift shop in the Amana Colonies (yes, Amana of the appliance fame). The Amana Colonies is an Amish community dating back to 1854. It was settled by the communally living German pietists then known as The Community of True Inspiration, or The Ebenezer Society. Their tenets included avoiding military service and refusal to take an oath. The Amanas are nestled in the middle of what is now a sea of genetically modified corn and soybeans known as the Midwest, more specifically Iowa.

I had wanted something to drink at my campsite that evening. When I opened the bottle, I anticipated something more magic than what met my tongue. It was cloying yellow syrupy stuff, which resembled soft drink concentrate. I poured it out next to my tent, returning it to the earth where she could compost it. I was sure that I’d never get close to it again.

That was fifteen years ago, and now I have been drinking dandelion wine for about two years. The new stuff is stuff I’ve made myself from dandelion blossoms gathered in Chicago. I’m happy to say that it is divine. I am sure now that the colonists actually keep the good stuff in their private cabinets.

Upon mentioning “dandelion wine”, Ray Bradbury usually comes to mind. However, after I heard a radio interview with him a few years back when he passionately made a case to colonize the moon so we can ditch this trashed planet and survive as a race, I got confused. Enough said.

So the point is, I am going to tell you how to make dandelion wine. I encourage you to do this because dandelions pop up everywhere and every place. They are nearly ubiquitous pioneers in our landscapes of disturbed and deprived soils. Consumed, they are a magnificent digestive, aiding the heath and cleansing of the kidneys and liver. Amongst vitamins A, B, C and D, they have a huge amount of potassium.

As a beyond-perfect diuretic, dandelion has so much potassium that when you digest the plant, no matter how much fluid you lose, your body actually experiences a net gain of the nutrient. In other words, folks – dandelion wine is one alcohol that actually helps your liver and kidneys! Generous, sweet, overlooked dandelion…

When you notice lawns and parks spotting yellow, it’s time to gather. The general rule of thumb is to collect one gallon of flowers for each gallon of wine you want to make.

Enjoy your wandering. People will think you quaintly eccentric for foraging blossoms on your hands and knees. Note: collect blossoms (without the stem) that have just opened and are out of the path of insecticides and pesticides.

So here’s how I make dandelion wine…

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Buy American?

Not to get all protectionist-ically jingoistic, but wouldn’t it be great if there were a way that we could produce marijuana without having to deal with directly fund Mexican drug cartels?

Imagine, a pot-farming Shangri-La where most of the gunfire is some penny-ante bullshit between paranoid trigger hippies and trigger-happy meth heads popping off into the open sky, trying to figure out who has the bigger box of bullets. Or hey, maybe forget the guns altogether (except for target practice and varmint deterrence, of course) and see if some New Age-type hippies can find a way to cultivate cannabis for medical use, etc. without torturing and killing thousands of their neighbors?

Perhaps someday we’ll find a way to grow our own. Until then, we’ll have to rely on the dirt weed that psychopathic gangsters and their terrified migrant-labor minions are smuggling in through sewer pipes, raising in environmentally-devastating wilderness grows and ramping over the border in pickup trucks. Wait, what?

From the February 1, 2009 New York Times:

Tougher Border Can’t Stop Mexican Marijuana Cartels
By SOLOMON MOORE

TUCSON — Drug smugglers parked a car transport trailer against the Mexican side of the border one day in December, dropped a ramp over the security fence, and drove two pickup trucks filled with marijuana onto Arizona soil.

As Border Patrol agents gave chase, a third truck appeared on the Mexican side and gunmen sprayed machine-gun fire over the fence at the agents. Smugglers in the first vehicles torched one truck and abandoned the other, with $1 million worth of marijuana still in the truck bed. Then they vaulted back over the barrier into Mexico’s Sonora state.

Despite huge enforcement actions on both sides of the Southwest border, the Mexican marijuana trade is more robust — and brazen — than ever, law enforcement officials say. Mexican drug cartels routinely transported industrial-size loads of marijuana in 2008, excavating new tunnels and adopting tactics like ramp-assisted smuggling to get their cargoes across undetected.

But these are not the only new tactics: the cartels are also increasingly planting marijuana crops inside the United States in a major strategy shift to avoid the border altogether, officials said. Last year, drug enforcement authorities confiscated record amounts of high potency plants from Miami to San Diego, and even from vineyards leased by cartels in Washington State. Mexican drug traffickers have also moved into hydroponic marijuana production — cannabis grown indoors without soil and nourished with sunlamps — challenging Asian networks and smaller, individual growers here.

Keep reading after the jump.
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TRIGGER HIPPIES AND TRIMMER GIRLS: Life on a Humboldt cannabis farm during harvest season

illustration by Arik Roper

What can I tell you about going to work on a weed farm that the Grower, The Trimmers and The Landowner won’t kill me for? Soft criminals are especially tense about getting put in cages by men with guns….


A very special edition of Dave Reeves’ “Do The Math” column in Arthur 32/December 2008. Illustration by Arik Roper. Photos by Daniel Chamberlin.

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COMMUNICATING WITH PLANTS

“Applied Magic(k)” – a column by the Center for Tactical Magic

from Arthur Magazine No. 29/May 2008

THE ROOTS OF CULTURE

“What kind of times are they, when talk about trees is almost a crime because it implies silence about so many horrors?” —Bertolt Brecht (To Those Born Later)

Most people have an appreciation for plants and make an effort to occasionally hike among them, repose in their shade or even co-habitate with them. And while it’s safe to say that we recognize plants’ value and usefulness, it’s also a fair assessment to state that the plant kingdom is frequently taken for granted. When we’re not trampling it, cutting it down, or eating it, we’re usually ignoring it altogether.

Perhaps that’s why the vast majority of modern people who encounter the idea of human/plant communication—or “psychobotany,” as we prefer to call it—find it strange. But it’s equally strange that this viewpoint has become normalized. After all, anthropologists largely agree that people have been attempting communication with the plant kingdom for as long as there have been plants and people. So why is it considered “abnormal” to attempt communication with plants today? And what can we hope to accomplish by entering into such a conversation in the first place?

From engendered grudges and evolutionary angst to theological quibbles and accusations of entrapment, the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden has certainly been fertile ground for all sorts of controversy. But surely there’s an upside. At the very least the Bible has given us a glimpse of Utopia: proto-hippies living blissfully in a magic garden. In one corner of paradise they receive vitality from the Tree of Life; in another they gain consciousness of self after sampling the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.

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ENDARKENMENT MANIFESTO by Peter Lamborn Wilson aka Hakim Bey

From ARTHUR MAGAZINE No. 29 (May 2008): Peter Lamborn Wilson’s half-serious proposal for a political movement to uphold and propagate the ideals of Green Hermeticism. Wilson sometimes uses the pen name ‘Hakim Bey.’ He is the author of the Temporary Autonomous Zone concept and manifesto, which, for better or worse, was the original inspiration for the Burning Man festival..

THE ENDARKENMENT MANIFESTO

At least half the year belongs to Endarkenment. Enlightenment is only a special case of Endarkenment—and it has nights of its own.

**

During the day democracy waxes, indiscriminately illuminating all and sundry. But shadowless noon belongs to Pan. And night imposes a “radical aristocracy” in which things shine solely by their own luminescence, or not at all.

**

Obfuscatory, reactionary and superstitious, Endarkenment offers jobs for trolls and sylphs, witches and warlocks. Perhaps only superstition can re-enchant Nature. People who fear and desire nymphs and fauns will think twice before polluting streams or clear-cutting forests.

**

Electricity banished shadows—but shadows are “shades,” souls, the souls of light itself. Even divine light, when it loses its organic and secret darkness, becomes a form of pollution. In prison cells electric lights are never doused; light becomes oppression and source of disease.

**

Superstitions may be untrue but based on deeper truth—that earth is a living being. Science may be true, i.e. effective, while based on a deeper untruth—that matter is dead.

**

The peasants attacking Dr. Frankenstein’s tower with their torches and scythes were the shock troops of Endarkenment, our luddite militia. The original historical Luddites smashed mechanical looms, ancestors of the computer.

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“Neolithic conservatism” (Paul Goodman’s definition of anarchism) positions itself outside the ponderous inevitability of separation and sameness. Every caveman a Prince Kropotkin, every cavewoman Mrs. Nietzsche. Our Phalanstery would be lit by candles and our Passions avowed via messenger pigeons and hot-air balloons.

**

Imagine what science might be like to day if the State and Kapital had never emerged. Romantic Science proposes an empiricism devoid of disastrous splits between consciousness and Nature; thus it prolongates Neolithic alchemy as if separation and alienation had never occurred: science for life not money, health not war, pleasure not efficiency; Novalis’s “poeticization of science.”

**

Of course technology itself is haunted—a ghost for every machine. The myth of Progress stars its own cast of ghouls and efreets. Consciously or unconsciously (what difference would it make?) we all know we live in techno-dystopia, but we accept it with the deterministic fatalism of beaten serfs, as if it were virtual Natural Law.

**

Technology mimics and thus belittles the miracles of magic. Rationalism has its own Popes and droning litanies, but the spell they cast is one of disenchantment. Or rather: all magic has migrated into money, all power into a technology of titanic totality, a violence against life that stuns and disheartens.

**

Hence the universal fear/desire for the End of the World (or for some world anyway). For the poor Christian Moslem Jewish saps duped by fundamentalist nihilism the Last Day is both horrorshow and Rapture, just as for secular Yuppies global warming is a symbol of terror and meaninglessness and simultaneously a rapturous vision of post-Catastrophe Hobbit-like local-sustainable solar-powered gemutlichkeit. Thus the technopathocracy comes equipped with its own built-in escape-valve fantasy: the Ragnarok of technology itself and the sudden catastrophic restoration of meaning. In fact Capital can capitalize on its own huge unpopularity by commoditizing hope for its End. That’s what the smug shits call a win/win situation.

**

Winter Solstice (Chaos Day in Chinese folklore) is one of Endarkenment’s official holidays, along with Samhain or Halloween, Winter’s first day.

**

Endarkenment stands socially for the Cro-Magnon or “Atlantaean” complex—anarchist because prior to the State—for horticulture and gathering against agriculture and industry—for the right to hunt as against the usurpation of commons by lord or State. Electricity and internal combustion should be turned off along with all States and corporations and their cult of Mammon and Moloch.

**

Despite our ultimate aim we’re willing to step back bit by bit. We might be willing to accept steam power or hydraulics. The last agreeable year for us was 1941, the ideal is about 10,000 BC, but we’re not purists. Endarkenment is a form of impurism, of mixture and shadow.

**

Endarkenment envisages a medicine advanced as it might have been if money and the State had never appeared, medicine for earth, animals and humans, based on Nature, not on promethean technology. Endarkenment is not impressed by medicine that prolongs “life span” by adding several years in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and glued to daytime TV, all at the expense of every penny ever saved by the patient (lit. “sufferer”) plus huge debts for children and heirs. We’re not impressed by gene therapy and plastic surgery for obscene superrich post humans. We prefer an empirical extension of “medieval superstitions” of Old Wives and herbalists, a rectified Paracelsan peoples’ medicine as proposed by Ivan Illich in his book on demedicalization of society. (Illich as Catholic anarchist we consider an Endarkenment saint of some sort.) (Endarkenment is somewhat like “Tory anarchism,” a phrase I’ve seen used earliest in Max Beehbohm and most lately by John Mitchell.) (Other saints: William Blake, William Morris, A.K. Coomaraswamy, John Cowper Powys, Marie Laveau, King Farouk…)

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Politically Endarkenment proposes anarcho-monarchism, in effect somewhat like Scandinavian monarcho-socialism but more radical, with highly symbolic but powerless monarchs and lots of good ritual, combined with Proudhonian anarcho-federalism and Mutualism. Georges Sorel (author of Reflections on Violence) had some anarcho-monarchist disciples in the Cercle Proudhon (1910-1914) with whom we feel a certain affinity. Endarkenment favors most separatisms and secessions; many small states are better than a few big ones. We’re especially interested in the break-up of the American Empire.

**

Endarkenment also feels some critical admiration for Col. Qadhaffi’s Green Book, and for the Bonnot Gang (Stirnerite Nietzschean bank robbers). In Islamdom it favors “medieval accretions” like sufism and Ismailism against all crypto-modernist hyperorthodoxy and politics of resentment. We also admire the martyred Iranian Shiite/Sufi socialist Ali Shariati, who was praised by Massignon and Foucault.

**

Culturally Endarkenment aims at extreme neo-Romanticism and will therefore be accused of fascism by its enemies on the Left. The answer to this is that (1) we’re anarchists and federalists adamantly opposed to all authoritarian centralisms whether Left or Right. (2) We favor all races, we love both difference and solidarity, not sameness and separation. (3) We reject the myth of Progress and technology—all cultural Futurism—all plans no matter their ideological origin—all uniformity—all conformity whether to organized religion or secular rationalism with its market democracy and endless war.

**

Endarkenists “believe in magic” and so must wage their guerrilla through magic rather than compete with the State’s monopoly of techno-violence. Giordano Bruno’s Image Magic is our secret weapon. Projective hieroglyphic hermeneutics. Action at a distance through manipulation of symbols carried out dramaturgically via acts of Poetic Terrorism, surrealist sabotage, Bakunin’s “creative destruction”—but also destructive creativity, invention of hermetico-critical objects, heiroglyphic projections of word/image “spells”—by which more is meant (always) than mere “political art”—rather a magical art with actual dire or beneficial results. Our enemies on the Right might call this political pornography and they’d be (as usual) right. Porn has a measurable physiopsychological effect. We’re looking for something like it, definitely, only bigger, and more like Artaud than Brecht—but not to be mistaken for “Absolute Art” or any other platonic purism—rather an empirical strategic “situationist” art, outside all mass media, truly underground, as befits Endarkenment, like a loosely structured “rhizomatic” Tong or freemasonic conspiracy.

**

The Dark has its own lights or “photisms” as Henry Corbin called them, literally as entoptic/hypnagogic phosphene-like phenomena, and figuratively (or imaginally) as Paracelsan Nature spirits, or in Blakean terms, inner lights. Enlightenment has its shadows, Endarkenment has its Illuminati; and there are no ideas but in persons (in theologic terms, angels). According to legend the Byzantines were busy discussing “the sex of angels” while the Ottomans were besieging the walls of Constantinople. Was this the height of Endarkenment? We share that obsession.

Jan. 1, 2008


Man Roots Culture: DAVE REEVES on GINSENG

Originally published in Arthur No. 19 (Nov 2005)

americansang

Man Roots Culture
By Dave Reeves

Fall is here, and it’s time to think about how you’re going to maintain your erection for the long winter months. Buying Viagra pills might do the trick, but face it, you are going to be broke after giving all your money to the gas man, so take my advice and pick up a dub sack of American ginseng instead.

Buying ginseng is like buying drugs; you’re going to get ripped off unless you know the deal. They won’t have it at the hippie health food store because hippies are afraid of the awesome power within. For the real you have to go to Chinatown. Go in any place that has a neon ginseng root in the window, or a picture of ginseng on the sign.

If you aren’t overwhelmed by the smell of the ginseng when you go in the door then you are not in the right place. The best places will have barrel after barrel of various roots and then thousand dollar roots laid out in little boxes to look like little people—hence the Chinese name that ginseng was bastardized from: Jenshen, or “man root.” These roots are prized as much for their size as for their shape and the super fat ones will supposedly do the same thing for your penis, which is the real reason they call it a “man root”.

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wood-air bathing

Terrain.org – Old Growth Air, by Joan Maloof
†

Earth, my dearest, I will. Oh believe me, no more
of your springtimes are needed to win me over ó, one,
ah, a single one, is already too much for my blood.
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††ó Rainer Maria Rilke, “The Ninth Elegy”

For years I have been telling my students that our area has no old growth left whatsoever, that this land the early explorers called Arcadia because of its numerous, stately, trees has been completely altered and not a single original forest remains. Depending on my mood the day we discuss this, I either note it with anger or sadness. Recently, however, I heard rumors of the existence of a twenty-acre remnant of old growth forest. In my thinking, twenty acres can barely be called a forest, but still I was anxious to see this scrap. So yesterday when I woke to a true blue dream of a sky I knew right away that this was a day I should visitóas in the e.e. cummings poem, ìi thank you god for this amazing day,îóthe leaping greenly spirit of trees.

The forest was more than sixty miles away, and detailed directions were necessary to find it down a dirt road. Even before the car stopped I could smell that smellóthat sweet, rich, earthy smellówhat I used to think was the smell of the mountains. But here I was still on the Delmarva Peninsula, on the flat land, and I was smelling the mountains. Could it be that my ground used to smell like this tooóbefore the grandfather trees were gone? In a time when the tree’s breath merged with the breath of the fungi and the birds and the insects?

When we discuss what we miss about forests after they have been cut, it is usually the sight, or the shade, or the species, that we mention; but now I am breathing deeply of a forest gift that I had forgotten: the air! Americans have largely ignored this dimension of the forest’s allure, but the Japanese recognize it and have a name for it: shinrin-yoku, wood-air bathing. Japanese researchers have discovered that when diabetic patients walk through the forest, their blood sugar drops to healthier levels. The Japanese have hosted whole symposiums on the benefits of wood-air bathing and walking. I have certainly noticed that I feel better after a walk in the woods; I just didn’t know there was a name for my therapy.

So what could be in the forest air that makes us feel better? In a study done in the Sierra Nevadas of California, researchers found 120 different chemical compoundsóbut they could only identify seventy of them! We are literally breathing things we don’t understand; which also means, of course, that when we lose these forests, we don’t know what we are losing.

Some of the compounds in the air are coming from the bacteria and the fungi in the soil, but most of the chemical compounds in the forest air are given off by the trees. Trees release volatile organic compounds from little pockets between their leaf cells. There are a number of theories about why they release the compounds: possibly to deter insects, or possibly they are just metabolic by-products and this is how trees eliminate them (having no excretory system). The scientific community is still undecided.

I like to think of the enticing fragrances given off by the trees as a sort of mutualistic reward for humans. If you love how something smells you may be less likely to chop it down. Sort of a Botany of Desire, where the trees are using one of the few wiles they have that work on humans. And I suppose it is not inconceivable that the trees may be altering our perception with their chemicals. The plant’s volatile molecules evaporate into the air and come into contact with the sensory neurons in our nasal passageways. The olfactory nerves send messages directly to the limbic system in our brains. This is the system that deals with all our instinctive emotions, including sex, memory, and aggression. The limbic system can most certainly affect our physical bodies, and all of this can happen even without our perception of having ‘smelled’ anything.

Aromatherapy practitioners work with these plant-produced volatile compounds. They call them essential oils, and they depend on folk wisdom about the effects various compounds will have on our limbic systems. There hasn’t been much scientific research done on determining just what effect these oils have. Often I put lavender oil in my bath, because I love the fragrance; aromatherapists tell me it is supposed to be calming. I can’t say for certain if it calms me or not. But I know that someone, somewhere, is planting more lavender because I like the way it smells.

The molecules from the trees don’t just go up your nose, however. They are also part of the air that goes into your lungs, and, once in your lungs, some of the molecules enter your bloodstream. So when you walk through the forest inhaling that sweet airóthe wood-airóthe forest actually becomes a part of your body.

The most abundant compounds given off by trees are monoterpenes. There has been a great deal of research done on dietary monoterpenes, and the good news is that they have been shown to both prevent and cure cancer. Many chemotherapy drugs contain monoterpenes. Lemon rinds, in particular, are high in monoterpenes. I could find no research, however, on the effects of inhaling monoterpenes.

Aromatherapists claim that the monoterpenes in pine are anti-viral and antiseptic, good for asthma and respiratory infections. But not surprisingly, there is no medical research to back up their claim. Could inhaling the monoterpenes also be a cancer cure, like ingesting them is? Is shinrin-yoku a valid therapy? And perhaps an even bigger question: Why hasn’t the Western medical community researched the physical effects of inhaling the monoterpenes so abundant in the forest air? Might it be because forest air cannot be patented, and consequently there is no money to be made from it?

It is popular to decry the destruction of tropical rainforestsóciting the wonder drugs that may eventually be found there. Meanwhile, closer to home, we may have medicines of our own lurking right beneath our noses. Perhaps someday, when your physician asks you to ìtake a deep breath,î it will be the old-growth air that he or she is referring to.

I hope you donít have to drive too far to reach it.