Welcome friends and those who’ve yet to meet me. I aim for this to be a blog about herbs—and about life. Probably no need to separate the two as life is embodied in the plants and herbs, and for many plant lovers, plants embody a way of life that recognizes beauty and abundance in every season. It’s also a way of life that recognizes that everything is energy, flowing energy, and that energy that is stuck can often be nudged to move and to pick up the flow again with the judicious use of a particular plant or plants.
And this judicious use doesn’t have to be in the form of tea or tincture; it can mean just getting out in the garden or the woods—or even greeting the dandelion or baby sumac in the crack of a city sidewalk—and sitting with the green ones, who are just as sentient as the wingeds, the scaleds and finneds, the four-leggeds and we two-leggeds.
With that in mind, there isn’t a whole lot that couldn’t fall under the purview of this blog. If there’s an herbal connection, a health connection, a food or energy or ecology connection, then it’s fair game.
The launch of this blog and site also marks the beginning of my work as an herbalist. It’s interesting how not a lot of people are familiar with the work herbalists do, so here’s a little primer:
Herbalists use plants—extracting their healing properties through means such as water- or milk-based infusions or decoctions, or alcohol tinctures, to name just a few (Chinese herbalists have many other preparations as do other herbalists elsewhere around the world)—to try to bring a person back toward equilibrium by correcting imbalances in digestion, assimilation and elimination.
Now, that definition is pointed, but narrower than I like. For an expanded view of herbalism, I turn to herbalist David Hoffmann, the beginning of whose book Medical Herbalism, explores this topic quite thoroughly. Hoffmann writes: “From a very broad perspective, I define an herb as a plant in relationship with humanity. Thus, herbalism becomes the study and exploration of the interactions between humanity and the plant kindom….Such a point of view highlights the range and depth of human dependence on plants. This relationship is at the core of agriculture, forestry, carpentry, construction, clothing manufacture, medicine, and so on. In fact, as coal is geologically processed wood, this broad view encompasses the petrochemical industry as a subset of modern herbalism!”
Hoffmann further opens up about his deliberate use of the word “kindom”: “On a political level, I see the use of the word kingdom—as in ‘plant kingdom’—as yet another example of the dominant culture’s linguistic straitjacket….I can assure you that the plants have no imperialist aspirations! If we must use such terms, then why not plant queendom, or, better yet, plant kindom?…The depth of this relationship goes far beyond social and economic issues to the actual life-sustaining mechanisms of planetary ecology. The health and well-being of the biosphere is governed by the green mantle of the Earth. Humanity’s rapacious exploitation and destruction of the forests and seas strike at the very core of the planet’s life-support mechanisms. It is becoming evident that in order to survive the multifaceted crisis at hand, humanity must learn some environmental humility, including how to cooperate with nature. Herbalism is a unique and important expression of this cooperation.”
That’s a description I can embrace. How about you?