Start Learning About Herbalism Today•
Posted on November 25 2020
We believe that herbalism needs to be more accessible. We can all understand and put herbalism into action through a combination of education and our intuition.
One of the most frequent comments I hear from people about herbalism is that it is complicated and overwhelming. There is so much to learn, and people often hear conflicting opinions and approaches. What I have learned is that herbalism is a balance of education and intuition. Simple right?
Education. Herbalism is not something you can learn solely from books, videos, or studying. All of those resources are helpful and part of the journey, yet getting to know the plants involves our senses, observation, and experimentation. No, you don’t need a chemistry set. The experiments I’m talking about can easily fit within your day with no fancy equipment.
Here are three things you can do today to begin your herbal education.
- Start local. You have herbs growing all around you. Learning about your local herbs doesn’t have to be complicated. Many of the most powerful herbals are invasive, resilient plants you may know today as “weeds.”
My teachers taught me to focus on one herb at a time. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) is a wonderful plant to learn from. Nettle is so nutritive and supports us in so many ways! Watch this great sow, grow, and use video on Stinging Nettle from Herbalist Deb Soule of Avena Botanicals https://youtu.be/13ZJhivx2ns
- Drink nettle tea as a single ingredient tea daily for two weeks. What do you notice? The “nettle challenge,” as it has been called, is a great way to get to know a single herb. Need dried nettle? We’ve got you!
Intuition. I’ll be honest. This one took me a while, and I still work on it every day. I left a stressful career, one that left me questioning myself and my intuition. I didn’t trust my gut anymore. I think many of us, at some point, lose our way or start second-guessing ourselves. Maybe we have always done that. There is a tradition in herbalism called the “wise woman” method—(let’s take a second and update this and make it more inclusive) the wise person method. It doesn’t rely on precise measurements, fixed recipes, or a set remedy for a specific health or wellness issue. The wise person relies on their intuition, using a part of this and a part of that based on education, knowledge, and intuition. This part of herbalism can either be stressful or liberating. I will tell you that it started stressful for me, and over time, it helped me rely again on my gut, which was liberating and empowering.
I offer three ways that you can use your intuition in working with herbs.
- Start a book. Yes, I know, not another journal. Find a gorgeous journal for your herbalism path. Few things say “new beginnings,” like a new blank book. Name it something witchy or exotic. It’s your book! Record what you learn from workshops, reading, and videos. Record your experiments and experiences.
- Get outside. Take a walk through the woods or a field and notice what is around you. What is on the ground? What is at eye level? What is above you? Find one plant and sit with it. The season does not matter. Even in the deepest winter, we can spy green with our evergreens.
- Drink a cup of herbal tea. Don’t worry about whether it is in a bag or loose, or if you got it off the shelf at the grocery store or out of your garden. Drink it as if you are the top sommelier in Tuscany, using your senses and how it makes you feel. Right down your thoughts in a journal.
Above all, take it one plant at a time and enjoy! I am always learning and think that is what makes life exciting. Trust your instinct, and follow the wise person method.
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