I remember the first time I went on an “herb walk.” This event coincided with my first herbal conference, one of the most healing and transformative events in my life. The herb walk held a kind of magic too. For one, we progressed through the wooded lane at an infinitesimally slow pace.
While I was a fiend for exercise that made me sweat, something about moving slowly through nature captivated me.
My eyes opened to the details of the plants and I greedily absorbed all I could about identification and how these plants were traditionally used for medicine. The idea of making my own medicine from plants, or even buying some that an herbalist had made, was new to me. And intriguing.
And so a new world opened to me. It felt like coming home. I never looked back or stopped to wonder why.
Something about the herbal world felt so deeply familiar to me, as if these plants were long-lost relatives. And the people who studied them felt just the same.
Two decades later, I am pausing to look back and wonder what exactly happened in that moment. In my work as a natural health practitioner, I have observed over and over two distinct human longings:
For a sense of belonging
For a sense of life purpose
I marvel how my early plant crush grew into a passion and then settled into a life-long love affair. Whenever I feel I am losing my sense of self, perhaps from too much time on the internet or too much stress in my work, it is the plants that bring me back. The plants and prayer. And yoga. And laughter.
Truly the plant world teaches us, or maybe I should say reminds us, about community. About staying connected. About how community is essential to healing. That was what I bumped into on that first fateful herb walk: healing. And the miracle of that healing is how it stretched far and wide to touch those in my community who needed it.
And now I am bringing the magic to my backyard again with the 9th BotanicWise MidAtlantic Women’s Herbal Conference, an intimate gathering where internationally acclaimed teachers share plant wisdom and inspire us to not only turn to the plants for healing, but protect and cultivate them in return.