Herbalists need to push our asses over and make some room at the table for each other. We sure as heck don’t have to like each other-but forming alliances is not about “like”. It is about acknowledging our shared power source-plants- and giving love and respect to everyone. It is providing support to each other, mutual aid, sharing, in ways more tangible than internet ((((hugs)))). It is also about encouraging accountability, “first cause no harm”.
Oh indeed there is room for disagreement. There is even room for argument-respectful argument. And spanking; herbalists love a good spanking. However, we are at war. We the people are all on the same side, in the same plant army, and need to acknowledge that. Hey, I’m no conspiracy theorist-I am not watching for aliens in my cornfield-but the water is not polluting itself, you know. Garbage isn’t leaping into the ocean, forests aren’t clearcutting themselves. A little unity goes a long way towards the well-being of our people, our earth.
So pointless snarking and infighting amongst herbalists is lame, and let us not forget what happened around the turn of the last century, with opposing herbal schools shit-talking each other, leading to rampant competition and eventual fizzling. Ah, Scudder and Bach wrestling in a mudpit…..
In the spirit of a loving supportive future that nourishes all of us I present a list of rights and responsibilities to move us forward with joy, humor and alliance:
-Disavow yourself of the notion of a perfect herbalist. Herbalists are fat and skinny, obnoxious and sweet, malodorous, dorky, loud, shy, slutty, messy, queer, boring, colorful, drunk, ill, genius, odd, short, tall, angry, poor, tone deaf. Herbalists have dry elbows and 80s hairdos. Herbalists are metalheads and motorcycle mamas. There is NO “right” way to be an herbalist!
-Inspiration. We need to be inspired by our surroundings and we need to inspire others. Cultivate inspiration! Encourage it in others!
-We need to know the difference between a pancreas and a clitoris. Though the medical knowledge of herbalists varies, having a grip of the basics of the body serves us well. For example, front and back, top and bottom.
-Those who make medicines need to know their plants, where it’s from, how it’s made. Surfaces and containers should be kept reasonably free from fuzzballs, boogers and tapeworms.
-No herbalist has it all figured out. Nor should we. We can be elders, but not experts-herbalists are lifelong students, driven to discover, to make connections, to see patterns. The moment we stop learning we are dead.
-If you wait until you are perfect to begin healing you deprive humanity of your gift.
-Don’t F people over, avoid manipulation at all costs, and first do no harm. Transparency is vital to informed consent. Be honest about your skill level, and let others decide if you know what you are talking about.
-Medicine makers are craftspeople. We are matchmakers, artists, poets and creators. Honor the artist in the healer.
-Mutual aid means passing clients on to other herbalists in their area, recommending each other, buying or bartering from each other, providing tangible support and information to each other, providing feedback with love, sharing knowledge and inspiration.
So…With love and respect to all my fellow herbal allies, I thank you for the amazing things I have learned from my community, I thank those who’ve shared my writing, herbal store, information or recommendation. I thank those who have allowed me to provide you with herbs. I thank those who’ve done the work to write books and articles, who share their case studies and milky oat seeds, and I thank those who disagree with me, who make me think, who make me hone my craft and my argument. And I thank those in my community who are growing older with me, watching each other kick ass, fall down, get up, mature into elders and build upon our ancestors’ work for ourselves, our earth and our beloved plants.