I’ve spent much time over the last few days carefully processing and storing the herbs I’ve gathered this growing season. I made a huge effort this year to gather almost all of the herbs I would use for myself, my family and my clients. And with the addition of some trading with other herbalists and gifts from students and friends I’ve managed to just that. The Medicine Lodge floor is still covered, but I’m working at clearing a portion each day. The whole one room cabin smells richly of green things, the remnants of Summer dried to a crisp concentration of scent and taste. Other plants are suspended in alcohol and vinegar and oil, still lush and sensually moist within the confines of dark glass.
My two biggest harvests this year are Stinging Nettles and Globemallow, I have several five gallon buckets of both. Both are prime ingredients for Winter infusions when fresh green food is fairly hard to come by. There’s also a gallon of delicately packed Motherwort leaves and flowers, and several quart jars of resinous Larrea (Creosote Bush) flowers and leaves, not to mention a whole corner of the cabin filled with the prolific Lion’s Ear. The tincture shelves are literally sagging underneath the weight of several dozen species infused in brandy, rum and grain alcohol. The wooden chests are bursting with tightly sealed packets of flowers, leaves, roots and seeds.
In each packet, jar and basket is not just a profound and powerful medicine, but also a memory of the unique moment, weather and place where I knelt down and plucked a bit of vibrant life from the soil. In each bundle of plants is all the intelligence, diversity and beauty of the whole Earth. In every mug of tea, pot of soup or drop of tincture I prepare or give this Winter is held the matrix of the Mother, the generosity of life and the mystery of medicine.
In many bags and jars are the medicines given to me by students, friends and fellow herbalists. Every single time I hold and prepare these medicines I feel a rush of love and connectedness to the people who so prayerfully gathered and prepared these gifts.
Elderberries from Beth and Angie, Oatstraw and Yucca root and Baneberry tincture from Darcey, Wild Carrot seeds and Lady’s Slipper flower essence from jim, Bear’s Claw & Violet tincture from Kate, Sage from Teri, Goldenrod oil from Ananda, Borage from Crowfoot, Blueberry tincture from Joanne, special cactus medicine from Gwendolyn, Ocotillo from Robin, elegant tea blends from Suzen and a plethora of other plants from precious people. This network of healers gives me an unusual sense of place among my species and a bit more faith for the fate of humanity.
I stand in the center of the round house made of mud and trees and feel the richness of my life. Human, healer, woman of the plants.
With so much gratitude.