Where do we begin in this boundless field? It can seem a little daunting, given that there are thousands of plant species and varieties to get to know. The good news is that we are here to help you along the way and this is no race but rather a long term commitment. The level of depth that you develop with each plant ally is a deeply personal and individual choice.
We would like to start by saying that this is not new knowledge. Not for your ancestors and not for you, no matter where you are from. Along the way, you will feel a sense of familiarity. Many herbs are ones that you have used in your kitchen, whether in cooking or in brewing teas. And many herbs you will have seen make an appearance in your yard, in fields, along hiking trails, and in other wild places. Maybe there is an herb you love to use in your cooking. Or a plant that makes the most beautiful flower you have ever seen. This is a great place to start because these are plants that need no formal introduction. These plants, whether through scent or taste or touch or meditation, have infused their DNA into your biome and into your whole being.
Every one of us has a tree that he or she remembers climbing. Or a dandelion that they remember wishing upon, or a root that they threw into potions to cast spells. These are plants that invite us in and make significant impressions on us when we are children. It is really no wonder we loved plants in our childhood. We approached them with a sense of wonder and playfulness and intuition. They played on our heartstrings and opened us up to the ecosystem that surrounds us. Tree represented a hideout and shelter and maybe some firewood and a place to play. This is not just childhood imagination. This is how we naturally approach the world around us until it becomes too “silly" or until we are schooled in science and reductionism, where we learn to separate the thinking from the non-thinking and to relegate the "non-thinking" beings to something that should only be dealt with from afar and through the lens of science. Somewhere in the not too distant past, we learned that to become rich in modern society requires exploitation of that which is free and abundant and which does not belong to childhood imagination but rather to people and companies that have laid claim to them in the name of capitalism.
Herbalism has been the medicine of the people from time memorial. Science was not separate from nature nor from the cosmos. And to call a field like herbalism, alternative medicine, is to skew the truth. There is nothing alternative about nature. Nature is our habitat and our reflection and there is a dynamism between all of nature that cannot be simplified into hierarchies as science tends to do. Creating hierarchies makes exploitation inevitable and taking a human-centered approach to the world does not reflect how the world functions. Bacteria, fungi, and plants are older than us and can evolve and adapt at a much faster rate than we can. It is time to bow in reverence to the life that is omnipresent and in remembrance to the ways of our ancestors.
The ways in which our ancestors and indigenous people interacted with nature was more reflective of the symbiosis that existed between us and we encourage you to be part of the awakening that is happening all around us as the exploitation and destruction of our planet continues at an alarming pace.