I had the pleasure of attending this year’s Medicines from the Earth herb symposium in Black Mountain, North Carolina. This is a gathering where any and everybody that is interested in or that loves herbs gathers at the Blue Ridge Assembly for several days of full immersion in all things modern and traditional herbalism. This includes herbalists, budding herbalists, herbal students, seasoned herbalists, herb farmers and gardeners; herbal product buyers and sellers, the homesteader, the home herbalist, to many other herb lovers.
The energy at Black Mountain is magical and energizingly uplifting. As I stood, sat and walked with my fellow herb lovers in field study, herb walks, lectures and intensives, Spirit showed me that we are a unique group of people that have a deep reverence for Mother Earth. Everyone is connected to Mother Earth as they are on their spiritual journey here. However, an herbalist’s connection is a unique one.
Herbalists are the anchors and groundskeepers of Mother Earth. We hold the space here in the physical and in the nature realms. Herbalists are the Divine Feminine as the goddess and the triple goddess. Some herbalists have an affinity for physically manifesting the energy of nature spirits. Many herbalists of old and new, harbor deep knowledge and wisdom of herbs, the plant world, Mother Earth and Mother Nature. This is what Spirit showed me as I was with my fellow herb lovers. Spirit also showed me that every person has their place of importance in this world to then also have a place of importance in Spirit.
The recognition of our connection to one another was unmistakable as I met many herb lovers. It is an instant knowing that yes, you too have unconditional love for Mother Earth and herbs are the way in which we have chosen to assist ourselves and others in this incarnation. It is awe inspiring and humble to walk among herb lovers that gather trash thrown away by another as we traverse the woods, are careful where they step in the woods and that have no fear of being in the woods as many often do. Nature then becomes the place of solace, comfort and healing, as she should.
As an herbalist of many years, I have always been one that holds integrity in the highest. Not only with myself, but with clients, students, colleagues and others that are in my inner circle. Integrity is the glue that sets all of us above the rest. I take integrity very seriously. I feel it is my responsibility to either teach or attend a few herb seminars a year to stay on top of what is currently happening within the herb world. I can then bring this information back to students, clients and others such as yourself.
Being in the herb world among my fellow herb lovers is one thing. It is another to be among the average person living their daily life that is typically not aware of the intricacies of herbalism as they search for healing. People do not only search for herbal healing for themselves. They are searching for their families, their next-door neighbor, friends, people passing by that they converse with in the supermarket and more. Everybody is searching.
As an herbalist medium, having integrity is a must, because to even attempt to travel within the herb world, one can be lead in many directions; often the wrong direction. Of course, this depends on where someone is in their body, mind and spirit to then manifest their own reality. I am one that others can always depend on to be in integrity with herbalism. I do not give people what they want with herbs. I give people what they need with the help of my spirit guides. As popular as herbalism is, I find that most people still do not fully understand what herbalism is nor do they understand how herbs work or that they are living with and among herbs every single day.
Below you will find the most often asked questions regarding the practicing herbalist and herbalism.
What is herbalism?
Herbalism is essentially, the ancient tradition of growing, gathering, preparing and using herbs for medicinal purposes. Herbalism has existed for millennia and may be referred to as herbal medicine, herbology, botanical medicine, plant medicine, plant spirit medicine, phytotherapy and medical herbalism.
Why consult an herbalist?
A well-trained herbalist is knowledgeable about the safety, efficacy and quality of herbs and herbal products. They are familiar with potential herb/drug interactions. Herbalists that have a practitioner/client relationship can be a solid foundation in providing guidance as the client addresses various health concerns. They can be an invaluable asset to assist clients in realizing the appropriate health protocol for optimum health results. Before choosing an herbalist, a potential client may want to speak to that herbalist to gauge if they both possess a similar code of values and practitioner/client goals.
What is the difference in traditional medicine and Western medicine?
Herbalists view the body as a whole and believe symptoms are the body’s way of asking for help. They do not “treat” dis-eases nor “cure” clients. Herbalists assist in clients empowering themselves to reach their desired level of optimum health. Depending on their comfort level and experience, an herbalist may assist clients with a myriad of health challenges or specialize in one major health challenge.
It is the client that does the work, not the herbs. This is a major, yet understandable mistake many people make in working with herbs. This then takes the self-empowerment out of the client’s hands to them put it into the hands of the herbs. Herbs are spirit guides and they are already empowered. Spirit guides do just that; guide, counsel, give advice and show us options as paths and outcomes that may manifest due to the decisions we make. It is our own free will that is most powerful here. Herbs are no different, which is why Shelowann will often times refer to herbs as allies or plant spirit guides. For a client to depend on an herb to do their work is to set themselves up for failure, because when the herb disappoints the client, (this typically happens within the first 1-3 protocol commitments), the client will then blame the herb, determine that the herbs do not work and stop wanting to work with the herbs.
Most herbalists address spiritual, emotional, physical and environmental well-being, diet, lifestyle and protocols. It is most important to know herbs work best when all of the above-mentioned factors are acknowledged and worked on. Herbs are not to be used as a crutch and many have drug like effects (albeit natural and directly from Mother Nature) and should be treated as such.
Do I have to stop seeing my primary care physician?
No. The option is always available for your herbalist and your primary care physician to be in communication, especially if you have a serious health challenge. Some clients feel most comfortable having had a holistic practitioner as their primary practitioner for years, some are attached to their primary care physician due to a moderate-severe health challenge or they utilize a primary care physician that embraces and understands the role traditional healing plays in the Western world. In addition, some clients utilize their primary care physician in order to receive yearly physicals and important tests such as blood work, while still consulting an herbalist.
If traditional medicine is so ancient, why aren’t more people using it?
Contrary to popular belief, there are far more people frequently utilizing natural healing modalities and herbs than we know. The World Health Organization estimates 50% of the population in North America, Europe and other developed nations have used traditional medicines at least once. This does not even include other countries that would be regarded as in need, that solely depend on herbs; in particular native herbs. I would estimate that this percentage is higher based on the continued traditions of natural healing passed from one generation to the next, including the simplest traditions in natural healing most people still use today without a thought of them being traditional herbalism. In the US alone, the WHO estimates that over 100 million adults use traditional medicines. The alternative and holistic healing industry is a multi-billion dollar business yearly.
The field of Western medicine is a multi-billion dollar industry as well. Often times patients do what their doctor tells them to do, because we are taught doctor knows best at an early age. Over the centuries, patient dependency on their doctor has increased. Taking pharmaceuticals has become a habit and a mere convenience, therein not addressing the health challenge until forced to with a reoccurring symptom or illness that begins to change the quality of life, an emergency visit to the hospital, or a disease. As a result, in past centuries still, we have forgotten the traditional ways of our ancestors.
Some herbs have a reputation of not working medicinally, because they are of poor quality, people do not follow their protocol or there is a spiritual/emotional component that has not been addressed. Moreover, some herbs are seen as being unsafe simply because research done on the herb was not done properly or the research was changed to further give the herb in question a bad reputation. Many herbs are quite powerful; hence they should be respected.
All the negatives written above are done to instill fear in people and to allow the Federal Drug Administration to ban a particular herb, resulting in that herb being labeled as bad with a negative reputation. Thereafter, people are less likely to be interested in the herb. As a result, money is not taken out of the pockets of hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. Herbalism is in competition with the pharmaceutical companies and they do not like this. There is no competition, as herbs are in a league of their own. The power of herbalists and herbalism are one of the greatest kept secrets of the pharmaceutical industry. As the reader, you are aware of who has dirt on them in this regard and it is not black gold soil! A great example is the current, manipulated legal status of medical marijuana. This is an article among many articles within itself. However, it must be mentioned here in this article.
Herbalism and your journey with herbs is going to be exactly what you make it to be. Where are you with herbs and herbalism? Are you allowing your spirit guides to lead you where you are to be? What does herbalism and herbs mean to you? They are our elder plant allies that are here to support us in ways we cannot imagine.
Live Well, Live Light,
Shelowann Dawson, Herbalist Medium
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