“Follow your instincts”..
But isn’t that dangerous, when it comes to herbal medicine?
Begin by learning the herbs- from books, teachers , local folks that know them well. Be sure of your knowledge base- then take it deeper. Connect your spirituality or instinct –
A deep part, in my opinion, of working with herbs is to connect with them spiritually. I know – “Oh, man – this lady is crazy!”
So let’s talk a little about Belief. Many faiths teach that all things on this planet have life , right? Christ, Buddha, Mohammed…all mention plants and trees as responding to loving care . Science today has proven that plants respond to music, lunar tide cycles and other stimuli. Are we connecting with Spirit – or just processing information on a subconscious level, when we respond to them ?
I believe that we are part of a whole living planet- from the tiniest electron to the planet herself. and beyond into space .. each thing interacts with the other parts in its surroundings. We are Stewards of those around us. Whatever terminology you use – there is spiritual link from us to all life. If we can open up our hearts and Spirit to listen, then , I think we have an innate ability to sense a clearer awareness of the essential use of each plant.
Haven’t you ever sat under a big old oak tree and almost heard it sing? Or heard a voice in a field of grass as the wind moves through it? Practical response -It is just the wind! But listening with an open heart- possibly they are sharing with us. I happen to believe that if you are open and listen , each plant can teach you something about itself. One of the ladies I truly respect in the herbal world – BethAnne from Natures Wonder – always said that each plant can tell us what it is good for. We spent a lot time just touching and smelling and tasting – often times just sitting outside the store next to her small area of plants.It was a time of learning for me.
The summer I spent hiking the Appalachian Trail was a special learning time – there were still families living close to the trail at that time- and they would open their homes and hearts to us. One widow woman, Maggie Claggett, was a yarb lady – she asked me to come stay a while-added over a month to my time on the Trail LOL- we spent some peaceful days wandering those high meadows and ridges- talking about herbs and how to use them-grubbing roots and snapping spice bush twigs – and she always said the herbs sang for her. I never forgot that. Part of what she shared was the oral history – I have since learned that was how families would pass history down – telling it over and over in a pattern- my family did it- and the clues for genealogy research have proven how accurate the oral traditions are.
A large part of gardening is listening to your inner sense of right timing – for weeding, planting , harvesting.. you KNOW when it it right…
My weeding time in the garden is a time to listen . I will be pulling weeds, with the humble bumbles buzzing around – and sit back to rest, when it all of a sudden it seems to be a right time to look at and smell a particular herb. I often come away with a stronger sense of how to use it- the head learning part seems more clear – and I seem to have deeper understanding . it makes sense in a new way …
I often forage like this as well. I walk out with the intent to garner plants to strengthen and heal my loved ones – and end up ambling along , finding unexpected treasures- which in turn meet current needs. I have often been asked why I don’t make a map of where the wild herbs are- . I guess I do have a inner map, where the colonies of simples are and the seasons they need to be harvested .. but it tends to be more of a wandering – zigzagging here and there- as they present themselves. .
It is an inner knowing. The more we listen , the more we can learn.