Monday, August 9, 2010

Herbal Medicine Above Beaver Creek

On our land above Beaver Creek we rely on herbal medicine for health.  Herbs are a vast reservoir of medicine that can be approached respectfully in several ways.  Options range from store-bought to wildcrafting.  You can go to a doctor of herbs, read about herbal knowledge in books to become self-taught, or learn from teachers of herbal traditions in various cultures around the world.  There are many herbal traditions and some come from the dawn of human time.  You can use herbs assuming that the concentrations of active substances are important for healing.  Or you can use herbal medicine while assuming homeopathic actions which state that increasingly diluted concentrations of active ingredients produce stronger healing.  

A third approach assumes that our direct intention and experience with herbs is the healing energy.  I often use this approach to enter into intimate relationships with herbs.  These relationships support a combination of growing and collecting herbs in gardens and wildcrafting to rely on the power of herb form, color, smell, and taste in combination with the placebo effect for medicine and healing.  This third approach is not widely acknowledged or taught and relies on close connections with wildness in the form of herbs.  The key to this herbal practice is to become familiar with many aspects of the herb and how these relate to your health.  Where and how does it grow?  How does the herb interact with its surrounding plants and animals and how does it condition environment and soil?  How do these properties relate to your health?  These questions can be answered by close observation, picking and processing herbs, smelling, tasting, preparing medicine, and watching how your body and mind respond to the presence of the herb.  Simply by thinking of specific herbs, my healing obtains.  With this approach, the medicine my body needs is growing in the environments where I am.  There is an intimate connection of mind, body, and environment that is whole and sustained. 

We have many herb medicines growing in our Beaver Creek gardens and I see, feel, and touch them every day as I walk around the land.  Examples include aloe, angelica, aster, bee balm, blackberry, blueberry, burdock, calendula, camomile, cascara, cedar, chives, cleavers, coltsfoot, comfrey, dandelion, dill, dock, Douglas fir, elecampane, feverfew, foxglove, gentian, hawthorn, honeysuckle, hops, horehound, horseradish, juniper, lavender, lily of the valley, lungwort, monkshood, mullein, nasturtium, nettles, oregano, Oregon grape, pearly everlasting, pennyroyal, peppermint, periwinkle, plantain, quince, red alder, red clover, red current, red raspberry, rhubarb, rosemary, sage, self-heal, spearmint, St. John's wort, strawberry, sweet woodruff, thyme, usnea, valerian, vetch, violets, white birch, wild rose, willow, witch hazel, yarrow, and yellow dock.

Medicine is in our intentions, the food we eat, air we breath, walks and activity that we make, space we enjoy, and in all of the experiences that bring us the play of wildness.  In medicine, you can feel your body responding to positive energy and know that this supports health.  Any other sickness is coming from turning away from natural mind and wildness.  The body follows the mind.  Wherever you are, relax and breath in the spacious, delicious taste of herbs around you.  Even in the downtown city, herbs grow from the cracks of pavement’s persistence and hide in stores on shelves.  As a society we have made so many efforts to kill herbs as weeds and to cover over our herbal traditions with chemical western medicine that tastes of poison and has so many side effects beyond our control.

Even western medicine acknowledges the power of herbs by making collecting expeditions to far off jungles and reefs beneath the sea.  Why go so far when the herbs you need can be in your yard?  Just lay off the pesticides and the need for pristine lawns.  Dandelions are powerful medicine for many of our modern diseases.  Perhaps we seek powerful modern big Pharma chemical “cures” because we have become so isolated from our natural homes.  We make isolated chemicals for isolated sickness coming from modern isolated life.  Really we are not so far from home.  We live every day on the breath of elemental energy (earth, water, air, fire, space) and don’t recognize it.  Relax and take some time to enjoy where and who you are.  Rather than the symptoms, see the heart of the mind.  Let herbs be your guide to wildness.
Posted by michael

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