It has been so long since I had an urge to write anything here, but things are shifting. I’m not here to write detailed herbal monographs, or pontificate about nutrition (because really, I’m DONE with getting lambasted by the vegan camp), or even wax on about long therapeutic perspectives on this health condition or that. This is personal, this is authentic, and this is raw.
This summer has been intense, more intense than I anticipated. I worked so hard for a year, to drag myself out of a black hole, and move back to the home I love, and I accomplished it. No small thing. I was proud, ecstatic. Reunited with my home land plants, reunited with my true love, reconnected with a community of friendship that supports me in ways I could never imagine.
And then I hit the ground running in my new home- hoping to make my little herbal endeavor even better than it was before. And then I nose dived. Constant financial struggles, not enough to eat, sudden car failure leaving me stranded in the middle of the city on a loud street corner- it left me reeling. Feeling like, “WTF? Was I better off before I came home?” I peered over the edge of that same black hole and reeled. And then I got real. I no longer had excuses about wanting to be somewhere else. What was really going on in my little mind universe?
I asked myself some hard questions, and got back answers even harder to hear. Its not that don’t love plants, plant medicine, and helping others by sharing their medicines, but it’s a shift in perspective about what I am here to do. I’ve spent 10 yrs learning to be an herbalist, and crafting myself into what I thought an herbalist is- practitioner, writer, therapeutic expert, materia medica geek, physiology fanatic, nutrition nut…only to discover that is not where my true gifts and passions are.
I’ve discovered that my mind swirls and dances endlessly around recitation of facts, of organized written tomes on the umpteen details of every plant constitutent, therapeutic use and latin name. Its not that I don’t understand or can’t speak that language, but my mind detests it. I turn my nose up at research- at the tedium of hours in front of a book or a screen hunting for minute details. I thwart myself at every turn when I try to force my swirling, dancing, sensing mind into these boxes of knowledge. There are many gifted and talented herbal writers, educators, clinicians- they are gifted in their own way, and we are blessed to have the fruits of their knowledge and skills at communicating them. But I realized this is not me. This is not the way I was built to be in the world.
My mind loves to look at plants from new perspectives through the lens of a camera, it relishes scanning the landscape for patterns that indicate plant friends, or plant habitats, it runs wildly ecstatic when given the opportunity to engage in the sensual nature of wildcrafting a plant medicine from the earth- body moving, sweating, smelling, hands in dirt, sticky with resin, holding the life of the medicine in my hands, giving deep thanks and prayer and love to these amazing beings we call plants. It experiences, it feels, it senses….I love to create and concoct- blending the flavors and qualities of plant medicines into potions that soothe, heal and bring pleasure to the recipient. I experience the sensual pleasure of creating and sharing nourishing meals- relishing the taste of each morsel, each smooth drop of oil, and each aroma with my full being. I sit with plants and listen, listen, listen, for the soft quiet intuitive knowing of a plant communicating to me its love, its medicine, its nature- free from constituents, free from western knowledge of the way the world works, and enveloped and rooted in the magic of the natural world. The place where the heart hears what is being said. My mind is made to experience deeply, to sense exquisitely, and to translate what nature and plants intonate into images and understanding of a different kind. I am here to create and craft and birth beautiful and delicious sensual pleasures. I am here to dive deeply into the wild world, into the heart, and to show the way for others to follow if they wish- to experience, to sense, to taste, to FEEL the plants.
Of course it is important to understand logical, left brain pieces of plant knowledge…energetics, therapeutics, latin names, constituents- and to know how plants effect physiology, and I wouldn’t trade in all the knowledge I have gained in that world, and I’ll never stop helping the people that ask for the plant medicines to ease their pains, shift their process, and heal their bodies.
But as far as I’m concerned, I’ve been trying to keep up with the Joneses, forcing my brain to try to operate in ways and perform in methods that it just doesn’t embrace. I will no longer try to fit into that expectation I created of what an herbalist does. I will no longer force myself to recite facts and figures. I’ll not write extensive monographs. I’m not going to call myself a “Clinical” herbalist anymore.
I am in no way clinical- I want to leave the bounds of the indoors and take you out to smell wild minerals of the wet dirt, to fill your mouth with the spice of tree resin, to drum your heart into a rhythm that allows YOU to hear, feel, see, sense, experience the magic and sacredness of the natural world. I want to show you how to see with more than your eyes, see with your body, your heart, your sensual nature. I want to feed the senses and bodies of my clients with the holiness of the plant medicine- not just the extracts and constituents that help them feel better, but with the place where the earth wisdom, plant manifestation touches the spark of life within each heart and body.
This is my gift.
I’ve been spending weeks getting ready for the Traditions inWestern Herbalism Conference– where I’m scheduled to teach a class on tree medicines of the southwest- and have been busily crafting herbal medicines and foods to bring to the vendor market. I have been putting off tasks that include writing, recitation of plant facts, and time away from the sensual reality of the plant world. Instead coming up with ever new ideas for salves, and elixirs and teas and treats to EXPERIENCE the plants by. I find myself creating, bathing in the alchemy of plant medicine in the kitchen, running outside to snap yet another picture of each new marigold blossom that opens, to capture the sunlight behind the rain clouds, to express in some physical way my hearts joy at seeing my bean plants grow, flourish and climb- relishing in the same rain falling that nourishes me.
My dreams are filled with ideas to create opportunities and experiences for others to find themselves immersed the ecstasy of nature, and plant magic, the sensual pleasure of being alive, of moving their body with the Earth, with their inner rhythms, of connecting deeply with their own heart, wisdom, magic, senses – starting at the end of the month, offering for the first time, an opportunity for people to go deeper with the plants, with nature- at the Sacred Plant Medicine Retreat in Tucson, AZ. Sept 28- 30th. A short weekend of plant ceremony, journey, and sensate experience in the Sky Islands- a doorway to open this beautiful world that I see, the doorway to a deep connection with your sacred heart, sacred nature, and the magic of the wild. This work has been calling me for a long time…and I’ve been putting it off trying to be something I’m not. But no longer.
To be truthful I’m nervous about going to the conference- no longer wanting to wear this cape of “Clinical” herbalist and the trappings of writing long tomes, of reciting clinical facts about plants, teaching herbalism 101 (there are so many good teachers who can do that), and instead embracing the reality of who I am – Senser, feeler, experiencer, shamana, wildcrafter, concocter, alchemist, musician, singer of deep emotion, weaver of spirit/heart connection to the wild world. I’m sensitive, and raw and new right now. It’s hard to express all this newness, and truth, and letting go of what I thought I wanted to/tried to/should be. Still it is unfamiliar territory to let that go and embrace what is really who I am, and expose it to those who have been peers, colleagues, teachers, mentors, friends.
But I’ll be bringing my medicines to share- deep pink prickly pear love-collected under the hot sun of the desert with my love- and simmered with joy at the sheer beauty of its color- salves infused with the fragrant healing of the trees- tinctures crafted from the wild plants I love so much, and run to with abandon and ecstasy when seeing their shining green and flowering bodies growing- smudges of Juniper, the tree that first TALKED to me and my strongest ally, to help others create sacred space, luscious teas with spices and flowers and chocolate to open the heart, to awaken the senses. And I’ll be bringing my banjo for those moments when I need to get back to feeling, creating, expressing. And my drum to share the heartbeat of the Trees with those who venture out with me. And my heart- raw and authentic and feeling.