Nurturing the Senses and Deepening Intimacy With the Plants

Nurturing the Senses and Deepening Intimacy With the Plants

“The simple act of nurturing the senses might well do far more for healing of the world than all our programs and inventions.” ~ Cheryl Sanders Being an herbalist is a constant exercise in balance – with so much being given out in the work of helping others we also need the pleasure of finding and settling into our own nourishment. Because after all, if we can’t take care of ourselves, how can we possibly take care of others? Part of the joy of my work is in the sensory intimacy I have with the plants, the close-up looks at buds and rhizomes via sight, scent, touch and taste. On one hand, this is an absolutely essential way of understanding the nature of the plant, and on the other hand, it’s pure fun for me and my seeking senses. When I...

Reading the Terrain: Understanding Tissue States

Reading the Terrain: Understanding Tissue States

At the core of how I practice herbalism are two elements. The first is my personal relationship with the herbs, and my intense adoration of both plants and fungi (and lichen, I might add). The second is the sensory and common sense approach I take to working with both herbs and humans. I teach herbal energetics as being primarily organoleptic, perceivable to a great degree through our senses. While I am certainly (and constantly) informed by passed-on knowledge (tradition, texts and teachers), scientific research and biomedical understandings it is the experiential that underlies it all. Because after all, how will I integrate and utilize something unless it functions well in the context of my work? So I start here, with characteristics that I can observe with my...

The Sensory Language of Life

The Sensory Language of Life

One of the most fascinating aspect of working with plants is the how and why of what they do in the human body. I’m the sort of person who is endlessly (and perhaps annoyingly) curious, like an eternal four year old asking everyone –why– about even the most obvious aspects of the world around me. For this reason, I spend a significant amount of time reading medical and botanical research. It’s the same reason I spend even more time up close and personal with plants and people. All the research in the world can’t begin to replace personal experience and the knowledge that stems from it. Herbalism is, by it’s very definition, a healing art comprised of many overlapping and complimentary fields. From the essential knowledge of how to identify each plant to knowing...

Terms of the Trade: Herbal Energetics

Terms of the Trade: Herbal Energetics

Defining Herbal Energetics Herbal energetics are generally defined as a framework of understandings of how to best match herbs to the individual and/or situation. Spectrums (such as cool/warm) and properties (such as astringent) are associated with herbs based on our observation of their effect on the body. For example, when we choose the moistening, mucilaginous root of Althaea to treat a dry, hacking cough where there is a burning pain in the chest, we’re using basic herbal energetics. This approach allows us to narrow down the potentially overwhelming number of herbs listed for coughs, to the most appropriate in any given situation for a specific person. So, rather than playing a hit or miss “this herb for that problem” game, we are able to act with more...

The Core Nature of Plants

The Core Nature of Plants

The *Core Nature of Plants by Kiva Rose Our relationship to the plants is an ancient one, and we humans are well designed to engage the magic and medicine of the living earth we are a part of. All we need is right here – the vast and verdant world of the plants that speak to us, the extraordinary capacities of our senses with which we listen and the complex cognitive processes that let us learn on a whole body level. As herbalists, a good portion of our work is in becoming intimate with the living plants that are the vital medicine of our craft. Rather than seeing a plant’s properties as disparate lists of constituent-based properties, we’re usually best off looking for the essential, core nature of each plant. This is not ever only one thing, and just as we...

Terms of the Trade: Excess and Deficiency

Terms of the Trade: Excess and Deficiency

Herbal energetics and human constitutions are predicated upon specific underlying concepts, including the spectrums of hot/cold, dry/moist, relaxation/stimulation and deficiency/excess. Herbal and dietary therapeutics will vary a great deal depending where the individual currently resides within these spectrums. Deficiency and excess are a primary energetic spectrum and are defined in relation to the flow and concentration of the anima, or vital force, in the body. All symptoms are variable depending upon the individual, and it’s usually most helpful to look for patterns rather that isolated symptoms which can sometime appear contradictory and thus confusing. A long period of excess type illnesses can result in eventual deficiency due to the restriction and...