Herbalism is the bridge between worlds. Between human kind, the rest of the animal kingdom, the plant and fungi kingdoms. The herbs, having the connection to the world, tapped in by their roots to the soul of the world, they face the sun and give life to all beings with their gentle breath and green bodies. Herbalism, speaks to, with and for the plants in the most unique of ways. Via food, medicine, shelter, clothing, and even with fossil fuels, the dead and decayed plant flesh of time inconceivable. All animal species have had realtionship with plants. Humans have a unique ability to interact with them in both holistic and reductive ways that expands consciousness, heals the body, opens the heart and inspires creation.
In my time being with the plants, learning and working with them, I have observed that that a multifaceted, interdiciplinary approach is needed to gain the deepest insight and connection.
In this, I have formualted that Herbalism is an Art, a Science, a Craft and a Practice.
What is art, but the craft of the eye. The ability to not only make sense of what one sees but also the ability to see abstractly. To look at one form and see another emerge, taking shape and new meaning.
Art sees distinctions and commonalities, contradictions and feelings.
The art of holistic medicine and lifestyle is to be able to paint the broad strokes, the larger concepts of bioregion and genetic lineages, of ethnic diet and global influence on culture. The broad strokes are the movement of seasons and their effects on mood and skin tone, the bustle of a city’s effects on the nervous system.
Art is also about the details.
The fine brush strokes giving depth to a painting, when you have to step extra close to even understand what is going on, and from that vantage point you can’t understand the whole, until you step back and unfocus your eyes, seeing the layers of underpainting that created the masterpiece before your eyes.
The details of holistic medicine and lifestyle are in the day to day, the nuances of spice and temperature, the color one chooses to wear that day and the fragrance blowing in from the flower of tree next door.
From the broad to the fine strokes, we are able to distinguish patterns, the flow of energy through our homes, workplaces, commutes, outdoor spaces and within your own bodies. The flow of energy, whether it be of the wind, sun and rain, our own moods and the interactions we have with others. These energies moving through and within the system effect our wellbeing by the minute, hour, day and year.
The details may vary, but the patterns remain. The daily routine, from your morning beverage and practice, to your commute and lunch break. The details of your clothing, how many hours you slept, the conversation with your sister. From patterns to details we can cultivate wellbeing or we can cultivate discord.
The broad strokes we could also call the paradigm. The geological events that have cultivated our current world paradigm. The shifting of weather and food insecurity, drive us to a power over familiar and political system….
Through the studies of biology, physiology, pathology, chemistry, botany, and the numerous specialities, we have come to identify and give name to the mysterious unknown.
By observing and documenting the bio regional shifts and adaptations, evolution based on time and scale, we took the names of Gods and Goddesses and turned them into statistics and classifications.
The brilliance of the human mind has opened our ability to get down to the minutia, to see our cells, our atoms, our DNA in the attempt to understand how things work. The advent of the sciences, the detailed study of life in its separate parts has advanced of our civilization into the current age of technology and information.
We took the whole and broke it into pieces. We meticulously study each fragment of the puzzle, a perspective never imagined until recent centuries and the created the tools to identify plant constituents, classify botanical and mycological families, specify therapeutic categories, understand genetic traits and mutations, monitor life systems and even modify life to suit our needs.
The sciences have lengthened our lives and saved countless more. The sciences have maxed out our food systems and have reduced our biodiversity.
The sciences have validated some traditional healing methods, while struggling still to understand others. There is a limit to science in that we are still learning, still exploring and we have only just begun. We began down the road of reductionism, to only find our way back to the study of the whole, integrated system of life.
Your own personal touch, embodied experience and understanding on a level beyond intellectual comprehension.
The craft is individual flavor, unique perspective and the application of the art. Pulling from the various studies, traditions, practices, we craft for the individual, we don’t prescribe for a disease or imbalance.
Crafting a holistic blend tailored to the mind, body and soul of the unique individual, through the deep knowledge of the nuances of relationship between the human organism and the organism of the plants, fungi, nutrients and energetic relationship with the internal and external world.
The craft is magic, science, art and ability of both the practitioner and the patient, together working for a harmonious life.
The words of another sow the seeds of ideas, hybridized into new thought, often cloned into repetition. Sharing what we think we know, what we learned from another is the root of intellectual wisdom. It lives in the surface layers, washed away by time and forgetfulness, uselessness.
When we engage the knowledge shared, we put it into practical application. The seeds sprout and morph, adapt to the new microclimate of individual experience. The roots deepen and the fruits mature, bitter and sweet.
This knowledge becomes embodied, a part of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual memory.
The information shared by teachers, whether from books, lectures, demos, IGTV, YouTube or right here in this musing, are not yours until you know by your own hand.
What I tell you may be proven wrong or different. Because the nuance of place, of person are changeable, constitutional. Being proven wrong to what you believed to be true enables critical thinking, forces you to look deeper, wider, further. Forces you to ask why? And then change your approach, your method. Shift your formula, adjust, rearrange. Through practice we can speak of our truths, ask more questions and show ourselves how little we actually know and much more there is to be attained.