Herbalism is sometimes spoken of as one of the “healing arts,” along with acupuncture, chiropractic, counseling, and massage therapy. These practices and any other non-invasive ways of healing people and planet are “crafts” carefully learned, practiced and applied, that truly become “art” at the point where we:
1. Make our work with herbs a creative process and apply our own imaginations.
2. Strive to maximize our herbalist knowledge and skills.
3. Seek to heal people at the deepest emotional and spiritual as well as physical levels.
4. Try, as a matter of both course and principle, to practice our plant medicine as beautifully as possible!
I wrote our Plant Healer book The Enchanted Healer because of feeling certain that our enchantment with plants and healing is every bit as important to our effectiveness and satisfaction as is our herbal knowledge and skill at treatment. The following is abridged from that chapter of that book, championing a creative and joyous herbalism that is possible for everyone, no matter how much you know or how much experience with plants and healing you have had.
You might think, “Of course beauty and enchantment matter,” but these days a stark line is often drawn between conventional medical care and alternative or holistic therapies, between phytotherapy and folk herbalism, between hard science and folklore, between the necessary growing of food crops and the nonessential raising of ornamentals, as well as between the supposed florid artist’s life and the sober existence and sensible priorities of regular people. Not so in many ancient and tribal societies, nor in the attractive land-informed cultures that we are together working to create. For them and us – from nourishment to remedy, from planting to harvest, birth to death – is an opportunity to meld ritual and necessity, substance and gesture, artfulness and practicality, working to make every act and result not only productive but evermore meaningful, beauteous and satisfying!