Of the Earth – Original Speech and the Senses

Of the Earth – Original Speech and the Senses

The foundation for experiencing and understanding herbal energetics and human constitutions is to learn to speak with the natural world (including plants and the human body) through our senses (which is what they’re there for, after all). Thus, one of the most important practices of the aspiring or practicing herbalist is to thoroughly awaken, engage and refine the senses. Of the Earth: Original Speech and the Senses by Kiva Rose Hardin http://animacenter.org “Our senses are meant to perceive the world. They developed with and from the world, not in isolation. Using them is the act that opens the door that is in Nature.” -Stephen Buhner “All we have to believe with is our senses, the tools we use to perceive the world: our sight, our touch, our...

Terms of the Trade: Stimulating & Relaxing

Terms of the Trade: Stimulating & Relaxing

Preamble: The Sensory Continuum in Herbal Energetics Before you can even begin to understand energetic terms like stimulating and relaxing, cooling and heating, moistening and drying, you need to realize that we are not speaking in terms of dichotomous polarities. Rather that viewing different herbs and herbal actions as opposites, realize they are actually dynamic continuums. A continuum is “a continuous sequence in which adjacent elements are not perceptibly different from each other, although the extremes are quite distinct.” according to the dictionary. Still, this kind of continuum implies a straight line, and reality is more like a color wheel or musical scale, more like a spiral with many layers. So understand, you’re not looking at neat...

Terms of the Trade: An Introduction to Herbal Actions

Terms of the Trade: An Introduction to Herbal Actions

Herbal actions — it doesn’t sound nearly as exciting or sexy as botanical monographs or the latest cure-all, does it? I’m aware that a fair number of beginning and intermediate herbalists tend to gloss over this particular subject, probably in part because of the typically vague and boring explanations given in many books and classes. What you may not realize though, is that this particular subject is both the foundation of the key to being an effective and insightful herbalist. As jim mcdonald puts it in his own introduction to herbal actions and properties: “I don’t think I could possibly overstate how important it is to understand the properties by which herbs work. This knowledge is what separates a mediocre herbalist (someone who...

Plant Revelations & Miscommunications (and other news)

I just posted the second part part of my new Talking With Plants essay over on the Animá blog, I suspect all my regular readers here will enjoy it and strongly suggest that my students read it closely as it is very relevant to the courses. Here’s an excerpt to tempt you: The truth is that if we’re only listening for words – for language in human terms – then we’re barely listening at all! The world speaks to us in the ancient tongue of touch and color, texture and fragrance, through taste and breath and every part of our senses. Listening through our whole body teaches to be open to the world and each other in a whole new way and with a depth and subtlety that even the best words cannot begin to approach. All of nature communicates on this level, eternally...

Terms of the Trade: Nervine

Terms of the Trade: Nervine

Definition In the most general sense, a nervine can be considered any herb which has a pronounced (and generally positive) effect upon the nervous system. They are often currently thought of simply as calmatives or even sedatives, but this is inaccurate and belies the complexity and diversity of the uses nervines are capable of. The truth is that Skullcap, Damiana, Wild Lettuce and Coffee are all nervines, although they may effect the nervous system in vastly different ways. As such, there are a great many secondary actions under the primary heading of nervine, including everything from hypnotic to stimulant to the potentially narcotic. We will only be discussing the more important of these sub-headings in this post in order to focus on the most essential and...

Terms of the Trade: Adaptogen

Terms of the Trade: Adaptogen

This is still a fairly controversial term among the herbal community, especially with the more grass-roots practitioners. Not all of us feel that it is useful as an action or category because it artificially lumps together herbs from several other classes in what is essentially a scientifically created box. I don’t personally categorize herbs this way, preferring many of the traditional, vitalist or organ system specific actions/terms to this more modern one. Nevertheless, the word has become fairly mainstream at this point and its meaning needs to be understood by any herbalist (or for that matter, any person that reads herb books and blogs). Below is the definition by the term’s creators, my distilled definition and the definitions of several notable practicing...