This article was originally published in the early 2000’s on my long gone website. I was lucky enough to find a digital copy. I have updated and expanded the original article below.
Gaia created no weeds.
If it grows, it has a place and a purpose.
The only “weeds” in our lives is our ignorance.
It’s time to pluck the “weeds”.
Plants have had a huge role in mankind’s development. Without them we would not have food, clothing, shelter, fuel, medicine, pain killers or poison. Our mere survival is due in part to our ancestor’s knowledge about the various plants and their uses that has continued to be passed on from generation to generation. Through trial and error much was gained. That knowledge is now in danger of being lost forever, it’s importance forgotten and it’s basic utility dismissed. Our modern culture has removed us from our natal roots and we have indeed lost the basic knowledge of the plants around us. Can you name the various plants you pass by in your daily life? Do you know what tree is good to chew on? What wild plant that you commonly see is good for wounds?
In the urban wastelands of concrete and metal, plants still survive unnoticed. Dandelions and crab grass grow and push through the cracks in the concrete in an effort to reach the fertile soil below. Trees sprout in uncleaned gutters, some on rooftops and on window ledges. Abandoned parking lots become covered quickly with grass and latter with saplings and bushes. In the city’s, often the only way to reconnect to nature is in a park if we are blessed to have one with grass and trees. Even within this confined structure, much can be learned about plants, ourselves and the environment. But taking a look at the often unnoticed plants that survive in what looks like inhospitable conditions may teach us more about ourselves.
What is herbalism? A branch of natural science that concerns itself with the study of herbs, herbal medicines and the growth, harvest and production of herbal products. Herbalism is a wide practices of arts, each examining different uses of herbs. These arts; as in herbal healing, aromatherapy, making perfume and cosmetics, the use of savory herbs in the culinary arts, and herbal magical properties; demonstrates the versatility of the plant world.
What is an herb? Herbs are considered to be plants that are useful for their medicinal, culinary and aromatic properties. In botanical terms an herb is any seed producing plant that dies down after each growing cycle and doesn’t produce a woody stem.
What is an herbalist? Any person who collects and grows herbs or a person who practices healing using herbs. Herbalist’s must take care that they stay within the law of the land so that they are not charged with practicing medicine without a license.
Each of these arts form our birthright of knowledge; of mother’s wit, and of Gaia’s wisdom. These arts need to be preserved, practiced and updated to reflect the advances in technology, medicine and science.
Golden Rules for Herbalism Students
Even though herbs are natural, natural does not mean safe. Any number of factors can make an herb wrong to use for a person or make the herb too toxic to use.
When in doubt, DON’T. If you don’t know exactly what your doing, DON’T do it.
Never take any herbal preparation or supplements without consulting professional and expert medical advice, especially if you are already on medication. i.e.. Ask your doctor.
Know your herbs before using them. Know what they can do. Learn how to identify them in the wild and learn to correctly label your stores using the Latin name, form harvested, date harvested and the common name.
Make sure what ever sources you use are up to date and reliable. Most sources older than 1980’s or even 1990’s need to be looked over very hard as new information comes out each year.
I am looking forward to exploring the healing aspect of herbs, its practical side, the ascetic value, and magical nature. I will be adding an outline of my ongoing field study. With this outline I hope to narrow down my reading into these area’s. I may not always produce articles on these sections but you are more than welcome to follow along and offer suggestions of source material and activities.