Rhodiola, My Darling!

Rhodiola is making a come-back this year in my garden! This sweet succulent starlet is one of 4 tiny bundles transplanted late last July.

All of the transplants were seeded from wild rhodiola species growing in the Rocky mountains of Alberta, Canada. They are gathered and lovingly nurtured by Arden from Wild About Flowers, who specializes in native Alberta plant species.  I highly recommend checking out her collection of native species for hardy, hard-to-find native plants.

If you want to know more about my Darling Rhodiola, Queen of the Mountains and personal favorite of mine, you can read all about her healing properties here.

Or, come by my yard in South Calgary and I will show her off in person. I love, love, love my rhodiola !


Turn Your Patio Into a Garden

This year I moved into an apartment in the city. One if its best features is a 10 foot by 4 foot, South-facing patio that backs onto the quiet alley behind my building. When I first planted a few tomato seedlings in late March I never dreamed that this tiny space would become my sanctuary, complete with dappled shade and soft grass for sunbathing.

The tall vines grow up the railing, keeping me hidden from passersby in the alley below. And the best part – all of the plants in my garden are edible as greens, fruits or flowers!

Tips on Patio Gardening

1. Plant a zealous amount of seedlings of the climbing and vining type.


Planting a multitude of seedlings means you will have plenty of young healthy plants to choose from for your patio garden. I started my seedlings inside in March in a sunny window. My seedlings included black and red cherry tomatoes, sugar-snap peas, chives, thai basil, beets, chamomile, and lettuce mix.

2.  You can buy mature plants at the garden center for your garden to give it some green in the early weeks.

IMG_20150509_134352I acquired a 4 foot tall rosemary tree that sits in the corner of the garden and brings the eye up. It gave the young garden some ‘height’ while the other plants were still tiny. Some tall leafy garlics and organic strawberry plants, and thickets of nasturtium and sorrel added instant color and body to my garden.


3. Choose planters that are lightweight and easy to move.
IMG_20150927_121546Weight is an important consideration for unsupported patios. A freshly watered planter with soil and a robust family of plants is surprisingly heavy. My 1’x1’x3′ planters weigh about 40 pounds each before watering.

Another reason to have easy to move planters is that your garden will evolve as the seasons progress and your plants get bigger, flower and produce fruit. You may want to move them around to give some plants more sun or shade depending on their preference. I arrange my garden like I arrange furniture, to freshen up the place and make it new again (this is a huge advantage of container gardening by the way). Get planters with handles for bonus points.

Garden Gnomes!
Garden Gnomes!

**Make sure your planters are at least 12 inches deep.**

My first set of planters were too small (only 6 inches deep) to sustain my tomatoes and peas so I ended up transplanting them into larger wooden pots mid-season so they could make it up to the top of the railing.

4. Arrange planters around the perimeter of the patio, leaving space in the center for your sanctuary.

Perfect for an Autumn Fire

I found a 3 foot by 9 foot roll of soft, realistic plastic grass to grace the center of my patio; I call it ‘the lawn’. It has become a second living room where I can read while laying in the sun. I even removed my deck chairs in favor of lounging on the lawn. This picture was taken in June when my peas and tomatoes where still less than a foot tall.

Decorating my garden included adding a couple of pretty river rocks that act as miniature tables, a peppermint plant from my mother in law’s garden and a small firepot for chilly nights. There is also a barbeque sitting over the railing. As you can see we managed to pack a lot of living into a small space. Next year I plan to get a garden gnome to guard the sanctuary!

5. Train your viney plants to grow up the railing, filling in the gaps with bushy flowering/fruiting plants.

Privacy is important to me. Although my patio backs onto a quiet alley I prefer to sit down on my lawn and pretend I live in a jungle. I can see out but my neighbors can’t see in.

I am invincible in my fortress of greenery!

Have Fun and Personalize Your Garden

Cherry tomatoes are my all-time favorite garden fruit! The amount of tomatoes we got out of our 3 3-foot planters is astounding, and with only 1 tray of lettuce we couldn’t keep up with eating what we produced.

Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor



And while you are at it, take a picture of your patio garden to share with me and other gardeners in the comments below. Happy Herbing!





Growing Happier with Subtle Body Work – Part I

Welcome to the Wholistic Self Wheel!

To learn about the parts that make up your Wholistic Self, see All Our Beautiful Bodies.

This wheel is used to determine which of your subtle bodies are most effected by your activities, and which of your bodies are lacking for stimulation, with an eye for bringing balance to your Self as a whole. It will also help you to increase your positive, happiness-promoting behaviors while decreasing unhealthy or detrimental habits. It is a tool for you to use as you see fit, to map out where to put your energies to create more happiness and fulfillment in your life.

Click on the Chart to Enlarge

You can print this chart off by enlarging the above image and downloading it to your computer.

Sit down at a writing surface with a handful of colored pencil crayons. Give yourself at least 30 minutes of distraction-free time in which to complete this chart.

For each activity you perform, decide which of your subtle bodies you are supporting or subtracting from. It may be easiest to begin with your daily activities, starting when you wake up, and work your way through a typical day. You can give each activity a number if you want to quantify them. I usually give them a number to represent the hours I spend performing the activity in one week, or a number that represents how good or bad for my happiness I believe the item is.

For example, let’s start with breakfast. Eating feeds your physical self, so you can include it in the physical circle on the chart. Maybe you also eat meals with your family or roommates, making it a fun social event – if this is the case, write something like ‘eating together’ across the physical and social areas.

There are activities that are good for many subtle bodies, like exercise, playing outdoors, or doing yoga (which can be good for all the bodies). Write them in or across multiple circles to represent how they sustain you.

Here is a sample chart that includes both positive, neutral and negative activities. You may wish to also include your thoughts, beliefs and emotions. This chart is known as a ‘Snapshot’:


We can improve our overall happiness by engaging in activities that fulfill many of our parts at once, while reducing the amount of time spent at negative activities, or neutral activities that do not bring us any lasting value.

Once you have worked your way through a typical day, add weekly or intermittent activities to your chart and give those activities numbers to reflect how they improve or remove from your health and happiness.

See the sample Snapshot above for a visual suggestion of how to fill out this chart.

Getting a Little Deeper

Activities are an easy place to start, but we are also affected by our thoughts, feelings and beliefs. These are important to include on your chart, as they definitely effect your happiness! At first you may not know many of your own thoughts, feelings and beliefs, or how they are effecting you. You will learn more about them with time, so don’t worry about it now if they are not obvious to you. If you are unsure about these parts it is best to work with a counselor who can help you become aware of your thoughts and feelings and encourage thoughts that lead to positive change. As an example, a common belief in depression is something along the lines of, ‘I’m not a good person’ or ‘I’m not lovable’. This kind of belief can have a huge negative impact on your life, effecting many of your subtle bodies. Any thought, feeling or belief you want to change can be included on your chart. Write it out so you can look at it in the daylight; it’s something you can change.

Don’t forget to put positive beliefs and emotions on the chart as well when appropriate; for example, maybe your love for your pet or a friend is a motivating factor in your life that improves your happiness in many subtle bodies. Feeling close with a loved one can be positive in a social, emotional, physical or even spiritual way!

For more ways to balance your Wholistic Self, see part 2 of this post. Thanks for reading!

Western Wholistic Herbal Gathering – August 19-22 2016


The WWHG is a collective of inspired experts on Natural Health, Sustainability, Permaculture and Traditional Knowledge, serving up a weekend of fun and learning in the poplar forests of Rocky Mountain House!

Tickets are still on Early-bird special until June 10th, 2016 for the low price of $195 for the whole weekend! Fresh organic, vegan option GF food is included in ticket price. There is even special programming for the kids! Please check out www.wwhg.ca for more info and to get your tickets today. 


What is Iridology?


You can go directly to the Iridology Tutorial (March 2019), or read this article for a glimpse into the realms of the Iris.

What is Iridology?

Iridology is the examination of the iris of the human eye and interpretation of markings in the iris to relay information about a person’s body, personality and state of health.

Iridology is my favourite healing modality – the amount of information I can share with clients about themselves, just from a quick peek in the eyes, is startling! The Iris is a breath-taking structure, unique as a snowflake, and the study of Iridology is a joy to me, as well as a constant learning opportunity.

What is an Iridologist?

An Iridologist is a practitioner of Iridology, the study of the iris. Iridologists often have training in natural health modalities such as herbal medicine, massage or reiki, and can use the information from an iridology reading to recommend treatments, changes in lifestyle, exercises or supplements to improve the health of a client based on their specific needs.

What can Iridology do for me?

Iridology can tell the strength of your constitution – your ability to resist stress and disease. It can also tell your genotype, which is a body-type/personality group describing your most likely areas of health concern, and some bits about your personality.

The Iris map lays out specific organs or areas of your body where there is tissue damage, lack of energy, scar tissue or acute acidity or inflammation. It helps to pin-point possible trouble areas in a person’s health.

What doesn’t Iridology do?

Iridology does not diagnose diseases, and does not represent health issues with 100% accuracy. It cannot tell if you are pregnant or taking drugs or alcohol.

Learn to Read the Eyes

In this Fast-Track Tutorial, Iridologist and Herbalist Kalyn Kodiak walks you through the theory and practical application of iris analysis. There will be plenty of practice and opportunities to apply newly learned skills, and group discussion of iris slides to aid in learning of the finer points of analysis. Find out more about the Iridology tutorial here.

Want to Learn Iridology in your Hometown?

If you are interested in learning Iridology in your own hometown and have a group of 6 or more participants, I am willing to travel to you. Please email me at kalyn@kodiakherbal.com to discuss the possibility of hosting a weekend of Iridology training in your area.

All Our Beautiful Bodies

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Teilhard de Chardin 1881 – 1955mandala5

How can you describe All that you are? Do you believe there are other parts to a person besides their physical form?

When you remove the physical body, what is left over is sometimes referred to as the subtle bodies: the emotions, the mind, the spiritual and social aspects of a person. Our subtle bodies are often discussed in a philosophical way, as if they’re a metaphor for the scientific processes of neurons, hormones and tissues. But I believe the subtle bodies of our mind and emotions exist in a very real, very present way; one that influences the minutes of our lives by affecting our choices and relationships.

There are many factions of society that do not acknowledge the subtle bodies – indeed many people just haven’t thought about it. Others require some sort of proof that what can’t be seen, exists. It’s easy to believe in our Physical Body; it is there to be seen and felt. And most people would likely agree that we also have an Emotional Self – the part of us that we can feel: happy, sad, angry or peaceful. Further, many people, if they cared to think on it, would reason that we also have a Social Self – the part of us that plays roles for other people such as father, daughter, teacher, lover. The existence of our Mental Self is sometimes expressed as that logical, thinking part of us – a part many people equate with, memory, the brain and the firing of neurons.

golden_feathers_pentacleIt truly takes a step further, and perhaps some form of self-reflection, to believe we have a Spiritual Body. This is the part of us that is aware, and is present when you say, ‘Here I Am’. It is more than the thinking which occurs in our brain, more than the feelings, more than the sensations of our physical self.

The existent of the spiritual body is often contested; it is the least tangible of all the bodies. However, when one begins to acknowledge that they are more than just a physical body, they begin to shift away the layers, one by one, until they can experience all of themselves.

A lot of people spend most of their time in the Mental body. It is a common place to get stuck, and it can really eat up all your energy – so much so you may barely see or feel your other bodies!

Pentagram2Often, when we start with someone who is ‘all in their head’ – always thinking, worrying in circles – they try to make sense of the sensations of all their bodies from the view point of the mind. We have a society that favors the mental body and loves to explain away the other bodies with sciences like psychology and neurology.

Honing your mind is a lifeskill, don’t get me wrong. But, because thinking and rationalizing is a way to get what we want and need, it becomes the primary focus of experience for many people. Sensitive humans may experience over-thinking on a chronic level, literally badgering themselves with thoughts and worries to the point of mental anguish. Attempting to make linear sense out of the non-linear experiences of the subtle bodies cannot be done and is not helpful, as it tries to solve an emotional problem with a mental answer. All this exhausting mental labour makes one feel unhappy and ineffective.

pentagram1Sometimes, in the absurd but blessed contradiction of an existential crisis, this struggle with the mind leads to a desire to explore other dimensions (emotional, physical, spiritual) of being – which can bring about a greater balance and, finally, a sense of fulfillment. In this way and others, the 5 bodies balance and compensate for each other. Getting out of our own way can allow harmony between the 5 bodies to happen.


I will be exploring the 5 bodies over the next months in a series of articles. Please have a look at the Wholistic Self Mandala above. I use this mandala as a visual to ‘map’ out the subtle bodies (a method that makes instant sense to most people who prefer their mental bodies), to explain their interactions/overlap, and as a tool towards improving, moving, and growing all the aspects of a happy Self.

The 5 bodies can be viewed and explained in a thousand different ways, from millennia old traditions to new age theories. The particular viewpoint of these articles belongs to me and was influenced by various teachers, traditions, spiritual guides and by my own life experience. I acknowledge that we all have our own way of looking at the Whole Self; please take from these talks what rings true for you, and leave what contradicts your values or personal experience. If you have something of your own you want to share about the subtle bodies, please leave us a comment below. Namaste!

Welcome to Kodiak Herbal Medicine

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Solstice Blessings!