Each one of us has a story of how we ended up walking the plant path. Many stories I’ve heard have been a mixture of a dark night of the soul kind of healing crisis – meets – falling head over heels into the world of herbalism kind of love story with plants.
Though each herbalist has their own tale to tell, there’s one thing we most likely have in common – there was a pivotal moment where a plant touched something deep within that awakened the calling to share their healing medicine with others.
I’ll never forget that moment when I found my purpose in a patch of Motherwort during my first herbal apprenticeship. A knowing as sure and solid as my bones filled me with a deep contentment as I found my place in this world. That moment changed my life completely. Five minutes before I wasn’t sure about what I was doing with my life and then – just like that – I was completely devoted to giving my life to be an instrument for the plants to do their healing work in the world.
As epic and beautiful as that moment was, my path up to that point had been hellish at times. By the time Motherwort found me, I had been a frail, frightened little bird with wounded wings. She wrapped me up in her embrace and held me while mending the frayed edges of my heart that had gotten roughed up in the world. Filling me with a calm I had maybe never known existed – and filling me with a courage I had forgotten, this plant worked her healing magic to bring me back to life – to bring me a new life.
This experience of receiving healing from a plant that was so complete – on not just my body, but a healing that reached far into the fabric of my soul. It opened up a whole new perception of what’s possible, for the experience I had wasn’t something that had been explained to me before and it definitely wasn’t something that was commonly talked about in the culture I grew up in. A vast realm opened up before me that I didn’t know existed – it was like stepping into the wizarding world after thinking you were a muggle your whole life.
Though I had grown up familiar with the idea that plants could be medicinal, I had no idea they were so much larger than what we see in their green leaves. And I had no clue they could heal so much more than the physical body.
The healing I received was truly transformative. It was as if I had been a very hungry caterpillar, but it was my soul who was starving, and so when I found herbalism I feasted upon the generous gifts of their medicine which fueled my metamorphosis.
Going through a healing process so deep and profound shakes you down to the core. There’s no denying what happened, though there may not be any science to explain the miracle of the medicine that did something magical to you. Whatever anyone else may say – if they don’t believe plants have spirits or that herbs have the capacity to heal far beyond their chemical constituents – I stand behind my own experience and therefore trust wholeheartedly in the healing power of plant medicine.
This feeling is infectious and it’s what ignites a budding herbalist to dive into the world of medicinal plants so they can share that healing they received with the people around them who are suffering. Ten years later, it’s this same feeling that fuels me every day to do the work the plants have set before me. I want to help pollinate the healing power of the plants, helping them to spread their medicine out into the world where it’s needed.
There are millions of things you can study about herbal medicine – from the most cutting edge science to thousands of years of traditional wisdom from cultures around the world and everything in between. But beyond all the things you can learn about plants, the essence of healing lives in the heart of your relationship with the herbs that have touched your life in a profound way. Being an herbalist isn’t about knowing everything under the sun about how herbs work, it’s truly about being used by them. The way I see it, I’m only their vehicle to reach the people who need their medicine, but it’s the plants who are the wise ones who truly know how to heal.
Don’t get me wrong – learning, studying and knowing a lot about herbal medicine is highly encouraged and will only make you a better herbalist who can help people better. What I’m saying is to always carry that calling, that feeling of why you followed the plant path into every interaction you have with the people you serve, the plants you gather and the medicine you make. That’s where the deepest healing happens.
Everyone’s life story and calling to the plant path looks completely different and is special and unique to them. How have the plants touched your life? I’d love to hear your story of how you became interested in herbal medicine, so please share in the comments below!