Herbalism Update - Part 1 Day 1 Hour 1

I just completed my fourth herbalism intensive weekend, so I thought doing a series of community updates would be a good idea since your donations toward my efforts have made this possible. Again, I cannot express how deeply I appreciate the community love and support toward furthering my education in herbal medicine for the greater good!

When I decided to take the class, I had just been laid off from a job of five plus years, very unexpectedly and unceremoniously. I hadn't had time to catch my breath and regroup but I felt like I had to do something. I sat down and meditated and prayed for the Universe to show me what I was supposed do next. In the meantime, I was enjoying making and sharing the infused oils, salves, whipped shea butters, syrups, and tinctures as I had been taught in various community workshops hosted by

People's Kitchen Detroit

. I had begun to experiment with different herbal properties and essentials oils and quite a few people were using the Maiden Moon Pain Salve, Coco-Rose Whipped Shea, and Chillax Tincture with rave reviews and good results. One evening, as I was toodling around Facebook, I saw a post about an herbal intensive class taught by someone named

Jim McDonald.

 Something clicked for me in that moment. I declared to the Universe and myself (and all of my 5000 Facebook friends and followers, thereby making it real and authentic...) that, although I didn't know how, I would be attending this class series.

After that it seemed very much like it reads in '

The Alchemist

', with the Universe conspiring in my favor. Family and friends, some that had no idea about my hope of attending the class, just literally began giving me gifts. And with that informal crowd-funding, I was able to raise half of the total tuition which was the amount required as a deposit.

I was so excited! But, nervous...I had no idea what to expect. The description sounded cool enough; Michigan medicinal plant identification out in nature, vigorous hiking up hills and down dales, hands in the dirt, and something called "the foundational energetic principles of western herbalism", one weekend a month for 8 months. OK!

NOTE: This is actually from the second weekend,  I didn't know folks well enough to whip out the camera on Day 1. 

The first weekend set the tone. As I stepped into Jim's sunny living room, into the midst of a loose circle of about 15 participants, sitting on the floor, lounging on the couch, and seated at the dining room table, there was a relaxed comfortable vibe. At the front of the circle, Jim was seated on a sturdy wooden coffee table with a variety of brown dropper bottles around him, a sheaf of notes, and a voice recorder at his side. I was also staying the night with one of the students who so graciously offered her extra bedroom and couches for class participants, I had never met her either, outside of a brief but friendly exchange on Facebook. This was definitely throwing caution to the winds and stepping confidently in the direction of my dreams. I didn't know what to expect, who any of these folks were, what I was in for, if I was way behind or a little ahead of the curve, or even what exactly the curve consisted of.

After a round of introductions, I relaxed quite a bit. I was surrounded by some cool ass folk! Naturopathic students, herbalists, survivalists, and heal-thy-self-ists who want to learn how to take care of themselves and others better with natural options that exist outside of the traditional medical industrial complex.

The lecture on day one opened with the words, "Thwart the Intellect". We were then given a mystery tea brew and were asked to sit with it. Get to know its aroma and intently feel our body's response. Take a sip and notice the visceral responses. I recognized something about this blend, but was not able to identify it right away. And slowly I realized, through this meditation, that the goal was not to guess what herb it was (and be first to guess and therefore win!), but to listen. Hear what this particular gift of the Universe has to tell us about its strengths, powers, spirit, and healing

qualities. Relax into what we already know how to do, but do not use often enough: First Person Observation. Recognize Patterns. 

A cup of mystery tea.

This approach asked me to step away from the memes on Facebook, the pins on


(and I have a LOT of pins on Pinterest!) and the "what it does" and "what is it good for" herbal checklists.

This is one of those quick fix check lists. These are a good start and hopefully get folks curious and talking about more natural products. Also, from a media perspective, the repetition of these visually appealing, simple images and words, help to "normalize" these products and imprint them on our psyche.  Media - good or bad....it does what it does.  

This simple exercise helped to shift the way I was looking at herbs for healing. I wanted to make a date with each and every one. Listen to them pour their hearts out to me, brag about their accomplishments or humbly reveal themselves. Appreciate them exactly as they are and for all they have to offer. Understand that what one may not do is not a shortcoming or a flaw to be fixed, but a place for acceptance. After all, isn't that how we

enter into long lasting, committed relationships?

And with this one cup, I knew I was just beginning...

This was NOT the mystery tea!