|mullein and me through a pin hole camera ~2001|
I have come to realize lately that herbalism is my path. I don't mean simply that working with the healing plants is the career choice I have made, but more of a deeper study, a walking with, a way of being and seeing and exploring this earthly experience. Anything can be your path. For many people, religion is their path, but I feel that we can arrive at the deep understandings that life has to offer through just about any exploration, and the correct path for each individual is the one that makes their heart sing, the one that calls to them in soft whispers and tempts their curiosity.
For me, plants have always done this. And though I've always known that I have been drawn to working with the plants, I have only recently had the perspective to look back and see the beginnings of spiritual framework I didn't even know was being formed, all based on my work with the green ones.
Right from the beginning there has been a sense of wonder, of awe, in discovering the magic of the plants. Yes, we understand now more than ever the biological functions of botanical organisms and how they interact with the world, but we still are not anywhere near understanding all of it. And it seems the more we do understand, the more amazing it all seems.
Rumi once said we should trade our cleverness for wonder. And I am in wonder at the amazingness of the green world. They provide the air we need to breathe, they provide food that nourishes our body, and many other essentials for our lives. We've known about these gifts. But we are just beginning to understand how very amazing the green world really is. We are just beginning to understand that trees in a forest communicate with one another, and even share resource! We are just beginning to understand that the plants remove toxins, not just from our bodies, but from the earth! (yes, the herbicides you spray on your lawn will actually attract more weeds in the long run) We are just beginning to understand that we are biologically adapted to be in relationship with the green world, that we need a bit of the wild to be truly healthy, both physically and mentally.
When I first began to study the healing plants, I was amazed that the weeds growing outside my door could be used to restore my health. I now realize they do so much more. The healing plants are one of Nature's players on this living planet, and she moves them where they are needed most, whether it is our backyards, a crack in the pavement, or a Superfund site. The plants are working to clean up our mess as fast as they can. They are remineralizing the soils and breaking up hardpan. They are cleaning the wetlands and the waterways. They are removing chemicals and radiation. They are cleaning the air and feeding the entire plant kingdom. And they do all of this in the environment of our own bodies as well. How could we ever expect to outdo Nature in her infinite wisdom when it comes to bringing things back into balance?
And so, I walk my path, working with the plants, but also smiling with heart felt gratitude, for Nature's loving wisdom. And I wonder, how many of us can smile at every plant they see, no matter where it is growing, knowing that it is part of Nature's plan to bring things into balance again.