Things have changed in the past three years for me when it comes to herbalism. This blog used to be a place where I shared what I was learning about specific herbs, concoctions I made and concepts I was exploring. My learning experiences have changed, and this blog is no longer the same learning tool it was in the past.
At the same time, I am completely immersed in Chinese herbalism and medicine. I learned more about anatomy in 9 months than I ever knew about Western herbalism in 8 years of study. We were continuously tested on single Chinese herbs, every other week for a year, and then a half a year of formulas. I had to memorize information about plants I had never seen growing or tasted, which was really weird. But it was also really, really neat. There is something exhilarating about reading formulas from a book originally written in 220 AD. Forcing myself to learn about herbs in an intellectual way by going to class, reading textbooks and classics was a valuable experience which informs my herbal practice as much as plant spirit medicine and folk herbalism do.
Another big transition based on my studies of Chinese medicine is the use of base formulas and the flavors, nature and Organs entered of the individual herbs for formulations. When I look at the formulas I have written, like for my Etsy shop, I feel a sense of conflict. I don’t see the world in the same way anymore; I don’t see dandelion as a liver herb, but as expression of certain energies present in our planet. Formulation have become much more strategic, where in the past I was more experiential and experimental. I went with my gut, with what was available, with what I was craving, with what the herbals said. Now I follow my treatment principles and diagnostic information as well.
I have to interject that I there is no sense of ‘better’ or ‘worse’ withing myself and my journey of herbalism. I don’t think it is better to have done it one way or another. It just is. Whatever personal influences or interpretation surround me are simply an expression of where I am in that moment, like a snapshot of my psyche.
Herbalism is a daily practice which takes many forms. I have expanded my personal definition of herbalism to be how I engage with and practice plant medicine to promote the innate healing potential present in an entity. I used to think it happened in the body, but now I see that it happens in many areas of life. Whenever I engage with plants, I am practicing plant medicine. In the past, I didn’t think that was valid, but what do I know? I wrote a paper called “If Plant Medicine Worked Doctors Would Use It” and thought flowers were stupid.
I am so blessed to be in over my head with Chinese medicine. This term I have 4 shifts at school directly treating patients (yes, I said patients, not clients) with acupuncture, herbs, shiatsu, diet therapy, supplements, yoga, lifestyle recommendations, ect… Herbalism surrounds me, but it is not all that I do anymore. These aspects were not available for me to work with in the past. There are about 100 different products I make and sell in my Etsy shop. That is a form of herbalism, too, albeit in a really broad, generic sense. But then there’s a floral designer in me, a gardener, a house plant collector, a neighborhood wanderer, a photographer, a decorator, a friend which are all expressions of the herbalist. These faces have always been there and most likely will always be.
Where will this leave Dandelion Revolution? What will be become? What will I talk about and share? I used to do a lot of monographs, for example, but my brain is just not cut out for that right now. Plant therapy is more my style.