chemical constituents. We, as modern humans, are just beginning to explore the deep relationship that plants can provide beyond medicinal values. The plants are helping us expand to build connections with ourselves, others and as a tool to honor that which we love.
Truly the oldest living beings on our earth, they can teach us about survival, balance, adaptability and working in community.
As a nurse, I learned how the human body functioned. I learned how the environment, good nutrition and social support can help to bring the sick back to balance.
These are the same tools of an herbalist.
As an herbalist, you not only learn the medicine of the plant but also learn about its environment, what makes it thrive and what other plants else live in its community. Blending these two disciplines has helped me bring balance into my own life, and guided me to support others in doing the same.
This process of blending truly is observation at its finest. I experienced the synonymous presence of humans and plants first hand while on a hiking tour in Wales this past month. The tour took us on the trails spiritual pilgrims and saints walked hundreds of years ago, providing us an opportunity to experience a reverence while on our travels.
The religions of old had an intimate connection with the natural world. Just like nature, religion could offer grace or mercilessness, but nonetheless it provided for the people. As the pilgrims would walk, the most worn trails were where plant foods and medicines could be found. The pilgrims would leave at just the right time of year to eat foods at the peak of the season. Stopping points along the way were marked by fresh water streams and springs.
These places were considered holy in part for their beauty but also of necessity to sustain them on their journey.
Just as the pilgrims of time gone by were rewarded with heavenly grace for their efforts, so too were we- modern day travelers- rewarded with the beauty of nature of this sacred land.
Hiking with others offered us time to chat about our work, our families, and the world around us. Throughout the duration of the hike I noticed that the plants along the trail had similar personalities to those I I was traveling with. For example, we saw foxglove everywhere which is a tall willowy plant and full of potent healing-energy, especially for the heart. Amusingly, our guide was a tall willowy man with lots of energy- akin to the foxglove he was leading us through.
As we walked, it became a fun exercise to notice plants similar to my travel companions.
I noticed groth bushes who were a bit thorny and sharp and marshmallow that was soothing and soft. Synchronistically, I saw who was on the hike for more of a personal experience and who was willing to help another who was having a tough time. It became clear to me who would tolerate the hike the most and who was adaptable to their environment, just like the plants of the region.
Without all of the noise of distraction of the modern world, nature became a beautiful back drop for a group of strangers to become part of a traveling community with each other, all with individual likes and dislikes but together for our mutual benefit
What lives must die for more life to occur.
This journey was not just a hike to meet new travel companions and see new places. It became a mirror revealing for me that I am as much a part of the beauty of this planet as a tree: That in the business of day to day life, there is something better. Nature and the world of plants is a balm for even the most weary. We don’t have to make a medicine from it.
Simple being in their presence can be enough.
I asked for riches.
You gave me the earth, the sea
Of the broad sky. I looked at them
And learned I must withdraw
To possess them, I gave my eyes
And my ears, and dwelt
In a soundless darkness
In the shadow
Of your regard.
Grew in me, filling me
With its fragrance.
to me from the four
Winds to hear me speak
Of the unseen flower by which
I sat, whose roots were not
In the soil, nor its petals the colour
Of the wide seas; that was
Its own species with its own
Sky over it, shot
With the rainbow of your coming and going.