Plants are amazing beings. We have co-evolved with the plants, they are deeply interwoven into our psyche (we even have plants genes in our DNA) and we depend on them for healthy living. Plants recycle oxygen, clean water, make and anchor soil, provide fuel, shelter food, medicine and so much more for all living creatures. Without plants life would not exist on our green planet and for millennia plants and humans worked together to create harmony and diversity in nature.
Plants are incredible alchemists and traditionally humans learned plant lore and knowledge on their grandparents and parents knees, in stories and in practical ways in the kitchens and home pharmacies of each home, from the herbalist in every home. We believe passionately that every home should have a herbalist – it is the way it used to be, the domestic herbalist. Of course this was alongside the medicine people (often, but not always, women) and the herbal physicians. All knew their place in the plant medicine world and they respected each other.
They learned about working with the plants to create health and wellbeing for their homes gardens, surrounding fields, grasslands, forests, streams, their animals and so much more. Community herbalists helped to pass on this knowledge and wisdom and to heal the community when needed and keep it healthy. By remembering and reclaiming and teaching this stuff to as many people as we can, especially children, in this way we will reclaim and rebuild our plant medicine path, our herbal heritage.
We reclaim the ability to know the plants growing outside our doors, the value of working with local plants which in recent times have often been overlooked as powerful healers and valuable nutrition. Veriditas will flow once again and the we will realize that the real library of herbal medicine, the true learning of meanings is in the garden, the meadow, the forest; in whatever places we meet with our green allies and listen to their stories and truths.
Those who start onto the green path often say that as they start to walk it they suddenly feel like they are home, that they are no longer alone. Pam Montgomery says that as we work with the plants we remember who we are; perhaps this is because the plants remember who we are and they can remind us and help us recognise and re-integrate our indigenous soul. Plant medicine is one of the most sustainable kinds of medicine there is (others are story telling, touch, exercise, ritual and love.)
The vision of the Plant Medicine School is to help us to play a part in reclaiming and restoring a hugely important part of our heritage-our plant medicine path. In some parts of the world this is still taught at the kitchen table, by the cooking fire, in the fields, passed down from parent to child and woven through the fabric of the culture. In many places it has been severely eroded, but it is not lost. We all have the right to reclaim our ability to use plant medicine, to restore our access to the knowledge and the plants themselves-not just for the humans but for all our kin of all species and for our ecosystems; plants give their medicine freely.
Plants also feed us most generously and another theme of this book is to remove the artificial divide between food and medicine; as Hippocrates said Let our food be our medicine and our medicine be our food. It’s an invitation to step into your own relationship with the plants, their stories and meanings; feeling into their medicine and then understanding how to work with them by bringing your own medicine into the conversation. It’s not a prescription, we are not prescribing. Being a herbalist is about reconnecting with the herbs and their consciousness and holding a conscious conversation with them and the people for whom you are asking their help, their nourishment, nurturing, support, protection and healing, their wisdom and ability to remind ourselves who we are.
We at the Plant Medicine School are about bringing the herbs back into our daily lives, and handing back what has been stolen-the direct intimate relationship that always existed between people and plants; seeing that their medicine is not in preparations and dosages but rather in food and day-to-day relationship with the green community and their interaction with our community. There’s plenty of books you can use to look up information and dosages. But if people engage with how to make foods and medicine, understanding the meaning and process, they can then understand how to work out what dose and form is appropriate and use their senses and common sense to work with the plants.
Plant medicine is about seeing the incredible role the plants play in nature and seeing how we can be part of the web of nature, helping to remediate and regenerate the ecosystems that we are part of rather than plundering, scavenging and pillaging in a way that leave them ravaged we can enter into sustainable harmonious ways that ensure biodiversity and health for ourselves and other creatures on our planet. Our vision is to collect and share this lore, knowledge and wisdom, to make it part of everyday life again; the lore of growing plants, working with our gardens and fields and forests- growing, harvesting sustainably, cooking, fermenting, preparing medicines and giving back care and attention to the plants around us.
We are passionate about regenerating this healthy relationship between plants and people, helping people remember what amazing food and healing plants provide for each other, the insects, the soil, the animals (including the particular human animal). Phytophilia and phytognosis (the love and knowledge of plants) are a birthright, part of our cultural heritage, part of what being a human is. We believe that re-entering right relationship with our plant kin, caretaking them and honouring their generosity as well as respecting the amazing medicine and food they offer not just for us but for other beings is a necessary and integral part of sustainable survival and thriving.