Two years ago two of my daughters and I attended the Southeastern Women’s Herbal Conference as vendors. I thought the crowd would be a good place to market my daughter’s tie dyes and my own needle felted artwork and body care products. The event sounded intriguing. I had no idea that it would be life changing, course altering, mind bending and one of the most inclusive, wonderful events I have ever had the pleasure to participate in.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve been exposed to herbs, herb, herbalism or alternative living. Not by a long shot. In fact, my parents (the most un-hippies you will ever meet) opened Norfolk’s first health food store the year before I was born. Lifelong saturation might be a bit of a stretch to claim, but I have always had access to the sort of alternate medical and dietary reality offered by a ‘health food store’.
Aside: Health food stores smell the same the world over. Copenhagen; York; Norfolk, VA, it’s all the same. Some weird combination of nutritional yeast, chelated minerals and patchouli. I love it.
As a result of attending this conference, at which we sold exactly one pair of upcycled, tie dyed, corduroy pants and all of my needle felted stuff, I received a huge dose of godly inspiration to study and become a professional herbalist. I asked my father for tuition to a distance-study course for Christmas and began.
I am now slightly less than one year into a course that I should be, oh, 16 months into. Not too shabby but I do need to get moving! I have had some theology diversion since beginning in that I’ve come believe the Wise Woman Tradition makes far more sense than the Put It Into a Gelation Capsule tradition, but I still feel like I need to finish the course, if for no other reason than the sense of satisfaction of saying I did.
During this period of time I have not needed to visit my PCP for anything other than a recheck for a concussion and several broken bones which, yes, I treated herbally but for which allopathic medicine was also a welcome saviour.
For colds and flu, there are tinctures. For my peri-menopausal symptoms, I drink daily infusions. For a puncture wound, I make a poultice.
My husband tells me that he is amazed at how well these things work. You know what I find amazing? That we have forgotten that these things work. We have given away the power to heal ourselves to people who do not always respect our humanity.
Our family’s daily needs are treated this way: start with the least we can do and build from there. I do not shun our professional medical community, not at all. I simply believe that most things can be treated at home with great success and when I show up at my doctor’s office, he listens, because he knows I’m not there if it’s not serious.