I have spent over 30 years studying and using herbs for diseases ranging from colds and flu to advanced breast cancer. I cherish the entire concept of using natural products to create a more natural state of healing and wellness. It just seems right from every perspective one may approach it.
I relish time spent with the soil and plants that live in it. The symbiosis of life is exemplified in the interdependence of all things upon the other and the relationship is balanced; never one sided. What a plant takes from the soil it will give back for another's use upon its death. What the soil regains upon its demise is life to offer yet again. The oxygen plants produce, I breathe for life. And the carbon dioxide I exhale, they absorb for life.
As an herbalist, this synergy is exhibited in the fact that what I am drawn to—is likewise drawn to me. It is similar to finding one's soul mate. The attraction is instantaneous and mutual. Herbs and all plants are living in the respect that they have a spiritual energy just like humans do. You can sense it when you touch them. The slight vibration you feel will be obvious as you acknowledge one another's presence. This sharing experience is not unusual; it too is natural as we are all one with all things. That is a precious aspect of life. In my observations, it appears some plants seem emotional in nature. Others are calm and rational and yet others seem neurotic or even psychotic in their approach to life. Blue violet for example, is calm and reliable. It is a sturdy little plant even though it appears delicate and dainty. Its tenacity for growth and survival is displayed in its ability to fight cancer.
Getting to Know Plants
Red Clover seems a bit on the lighthearted side. It is not frivolous but truly of a giving nature just the same. Clover actually gives to the soil and the plants around it by creating necessary nitrogen in its roots that is dispersed into the soil as it grows. All plants in the proximity benefit from it. Furthermore, clover can be planted where nothing else grows. In toxic soil, for example, it cleans the soil for use by other plants and grasses later. It has the same action in our bodies; it cleanses toxins and nourishes every cell. It is good for our hearts too. It makes them lighter by thinning our blood.
Comfrey is a stalwart in any garden. It is dense, thick growth is rapid and it replenishes itself quickly when cut down. Its speed is portrayed beautifully in its ability to speed healing. It seems defensive somehow because its leaves are hairy and prickly to the skin when touched. Its blossoms are delicate and hang down like a Bluebell Flower. It strikes me as unassuming and confident; not boastful or proud. Comfrey knows who it is and does not need praise. Comfrey to me is a plant that knows how tojust be in any given situation.
St. John's Wort has an air of delight about it. It stands erect and can become a sturdy hedge. Its tiny yellow flowers make it look happy. You can rely upon it to relieve depression and support your vein's and capillary's strength so you stand erect too. It has little if any fragrance but the small star shaped flowers are stately just the same. This plant has nobility. It represents our fragility because it will not tolerate being cut down. It will come back very slowly if it comes back at all. Likewise, we sometimes do not recover from wounds inflicted upon us in life.
Motherwort is in a class by itself because it has square stems. They are very strong and rigid. Yet the plant is flexible in that it's very shallow rooted and can easily be moved. It was appropriately named. Mothers are much the same. Unique in that we can give birth, men cannot. Unique in that we are normally strong - often rigid in our ethics and yet easily swayed or moved by another's emotions or needs. Motherwort is also forgiving. When it sows its seeds into an undesirable location, it does not resent being pulled and tossed on the compost pile. It just shows up somewhere else and tries again and again. Motherwort likes a bit of dappled shade - don't we all? Protection is a good thing in times of vulnerability.
I enjoy the plants that are open and honest about whom they are. Bindweed, the bane of my existence as a weed puller, cares not that it is parasitic in nature. It binds every other plant in its path in a strangle hold in its attempt to survive. I resent its growth in my vegetable and herb gardens but it simply does not care what I think. It just keeps invading everyone's space and has little or no medicinal value. Its arrowhead shaped leaves resemble a hunter's weapon. Anything in its proximity is easy prey. It reminds me of some selfish people I have known. I have to say it is honest in its attempts and makes no excuses. It deserves some praise for its honesty.
I enjoy finding out about the plants that grow naturally and those I transplant from nurseries. They, as I said earlier in another lesson, all have a story to tell. Bull Thistle is one I would describe as psychotic. It is vengeful and filled with spite. Though it has beautiful purple blossoms they are only meant to deceive. It is a dangerous plant. The long thorns on it are painful and so closely spaced you can barely touch it, let alone pull it out. Just like people with a similar attitude, approach with caution. Our short South Dakota summers are fraught with extremes in temperatures and storms. We often experience drought or too much rainfall. There seems to be little moderation in our climate and yet each moment without snow and subzero temperatures are to be appreciated. The plants never complain like the people do however, they just keep to themselves and live to the best of their ability given the circumstances. I wish I could be more like them and feel less discouraged when times get tough. They remind me to keep on doing what needs to be done in order to bring forth fruit.
Plants Can Teach Us So Much
The relationship an herbalist has with plants becomes poetic in nature and though I am not good at prose, I do appreciate the beauty of life in the manner that we are meant to bring forth fruit just like plants that are given such a tiny space to grow do. My corner of the world is here on my small acreage. I dream of it being a place of enduring peace and compatibility with nature and all its wonder. I have the best intentions and hope lingers long in my design to make my small farm a place of awe in its healing energy and solace. I want guests to appreciate the natural state that exists.
I do the work alone and it gets ahead of me but it seems wild like my heart has always been. I cannot tame it nor do I want to. Nature is chaotic; it is not about neatly trimmed lawn edges and order. The best I can do with this land and its dwellers is to attempt to maintain it. I fear if I do more, I will bruise its spirit. My land reflects me and I reflect the land I am a steward of. This is Herbalism for me.
It may be entirely different for you. You may feel different flows and ebbs of the spiritual energy that surrounds you but you will be aware of it the more you work with plant life. Plants are not about change, movement, dissatisfaction, and disappointment. Plants are content to have a space to put down a small root ball and share their world. Your garden may shine as the most ordered and manicured in your area if this is what you are about. Your garden will reflect you as you reflect it. This just happens if you are paying attention to the energy that is yours and the union you will acquire with the plant world. You have aspirations, hopes and dreams and wish to be fruitful in your little space and plants can assist in any way they can. They can bolster your spirits, renew your strength and lighten your physical load by cleansing your body. They can enhance your life with their fragrances and bright colors and they can take you down the road to being a healer so you can enjoy being giving like they are. Herbalism can help you to participate in life by bringing something good to the place where you dwell.
Be True to Yourself!
The connection with the energy that surrounds your space in the world can be enhanced and you in turn can enhance that energy. You can resolve to create a place of healing or peace. When you do and you make it grow, the larger areas around you benefits from the shifts in a once stagnant paradigm. It comes naturally. All it requires from you is an awareness of the possibility and your movement about in your herb garden in a sense of peace and wonder. It is more natural than it is deliberate, though deliberate it can be if you speak your intentions to your herbs. The tone resonates into the earth and the Mother hears you and nurtures your intent. She admires your efforts to live deliberately in peace.
The solitude you find in your herb garden is unequaled when it comes to healing your space, your inner space, and that of those near you. It is a time to reflect on what the planet is doing that day and what you can do to cooperate with it. This philosophy was Mayan in its origins and the Mayan's, as you may know, were one of history's most prolific civilizations. They did not struggle against nature or the cosmos. They understood to work with it and thus not hinder it, in doing so they helped themselves prosper. Doing otherwise is like trying to row against a strong current. You may be able to row in place but it is unlikely you will make much headway. Sometimes even large boats cannot compete and then again huge boats that are motor propelled can compete but that does not mean they are going in the direction they should.