Becoming Companions to the Plants

Posted by Nathan on 12th May 2015

I am coming to believe that we have reached the limits of the analytical, logical approach to understanding. More precisely, the limits of relying on it as the sole or even dominant approach.

Some questions that keep arising for me. "Where is the wildness here? Where are the weeds? The trickster animals?" 

Herbalism isn't ultimately about finding solutions to our health problems. Nor are the plants solely, or even mainly, the means by which we humans maintain or regain health.

I've lost interest in producing tidy, little essays about the benefits of herb X or formula Y. How can I offer a small window into the giant universe within Cleavers or a Rosemary instead? 

Writing is too compartmentalized. Poetry in one corner for a taste of wildness and the unsayable. Memoir to touch the heart with what usually is a carefully constructed story. Well reasoned essay or blog post to examine critical issues, conflicts, or teachings. Interviews that sometimes cross boundaries like these, but which often are cut, edited, or over directed in certain directions by the interviewers.

I'm seeing something similar occurring in the ways many of us make collective decisions. Sitting  meetings, I notice the headiness of it all. The way certain kinds of talking are privileged. The way we all sit around tables or in chairs and barely move for an hour or two or even more. The way voting or consensus processes are so often a rational, verbal agreement that ignores the body language, emotional status, wild parts of human and non-human stories, and whatever else is present.

What if we made decisions like the Lady Slipper, taking our time to flower, and being wary of putting roots into anything that seems like poor soil?

This could even be true when considering our health. Especially long term. Not rushing for the latest fad herb, or quick fix thinking about plants. But instead, making the effort to learn from the plants we seek health from. To witness it's life in the world, or at least read about it before choosing it as medicine. 

Of course, there isn't always the time for such things. However, too often, we're not making the time.

Herbal medicine is at it's best when we take the time to companion with the plants that heal us .