Interview with our 2018
When did you start using herbs?
Thank you for asking these questions and putting together this interview!
I was taught about the healing properties of plants in my early life by my grandmother, grandfather, and mother. All three of them used plants for healing and daily uplift. As a child I was introduced to planting a garden, fishing, and how to fish using plants as bait! This is as far back as i can remember and at that i must have been just a bit younger than 3.
How did your practice develop?
When people asked my mother for remedies or rather, when people told her about problems that they were dealing with, I would be around. She knew how much I liked to research and learn things and she wanted me to be a doctor, so when it was appropriate she would ask me to go and get something for her or she would mention the problem and how she would go about handling it. A big part of the learning was for her to tell me stories about when she had seen this kind of problem before and what had been done about it as she’d witnessed it. Most of the time the problem was presenting itself emotionally after or during a physical manifestation. This was in my teens. I left home early. After leaving home I was enthralled with the co ops at the time and the books I could get that would tell me more about the plants I’d grown up with. I had a lot to learn though. I thought that what I was learning was superior that what I had been taught orally, just a cultural psychosis of ‘better than’ that thankfully, my mother prayed me through this. She had seen that before. As I was balancing out learning more about what I already know, I started using more and more plants in my life, connecting with other people who work with plants and helping my friends who asked. I clearly remember being awoken by my housemates to help someone who was dealing with some prenatal issues and helping her with some tea when I was a junior in college. They were having a party and I’d chosen to go to bed early. Folks would hear about what I did from my housemates and my housemates would wake me up to do my thing. It always involved a spiritual diagnosis first then, then if i was led to a plant I knew to help them, I would recommend that plant which I normally had on hand. At that time, there was no Whole Foods or Internet or Amazon to order from back then so sending someone on a wild goose chase could be costly and prolong their pain. It was years before any spiritual initiations. This way of doing things was just a natural way of doing things that was revealed to me. I would get my tarot cards out, see what they say-and it wasn’t a fancy deck either, the regular rider-waite deck-the only thing i could get from the local borders bookstore, remember them? My practice developed as I went out into the world and people began to ask me questions when they needed help. I was not aware of a profession of doing this for money and didn’t charge. I shared what I knew carefully with people who could hear it. At the same time, my focus became sharper in the spiritual realm of life, meaning I began to pursue spiritual development over scientific development and wherever I went and was led to the plants that were there. This began in my late teens-as i said i left home early- at about 15 years old and had been on my own since then. I had contact with my family but chose to forge my own path and to get out into the world. I couldn’t wait to get out into the world! By my late teens I was a mom, working with plants and doing my best to live off of the grid-urban style. it was a grand adventure!
What are some of your favorite herbs or herbal combinations?
My favorite herbs are the ones that choose to live with me and to support me and those people I serve and are accessible to them. Simple remedies that people can get a steady supply of.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned working between Africa and the U.S.?
You cannot overcome or ignore culture, you just have to embrace it. What I mean by that it, is that it serves me well to remember that I bring my culture with me, even if its just in the way I walk or laugh. Embracing and loving the commonalities is just as important as embracing and loving the differences. The universe loves diversity and differences are just as important and valuable as what we all have in common. Sometimes people point to the commonalities in order to avoid dealing with the differences. That won’t work in the long run, you gotta love it all.
What are some important things to think about for herbalists today?
What can you grow? What do you grow? What can you get from people, who may not be herbalists, who are your friends? In other words, are you plants accessible? Are your techniques for helping others transferable? Think in terms of legacy. Can people easily duplicate some of your preparation techniques? After dealing with you do they leave with a love of plants or at least a greater appreciation of them? Or, are we creating a private club, like certain mainstream establishments related to health-where you gotta pay to play with our toys no matter what? There are some remedies that are safe and accessible that we may need to consciously think of putting back in the hands of the people rather than heavily commodifying them. Yes, there is always a need for a specialist, no doubt and there is always a need to empower people to know and work with what may be in their own back yards. There is a balance. When we strike it, the specialists will naturally reveal themselves/be revealed by spirit, and will be trained in the esoteric and ways of the plants. We will still have the home hearth wim/min who are able to hold it down. That is what our communities are losing, and so desperately need, to overcome in these seemingly desperate times.
What will you be speaking about at Moonflower Herb fest?
Mamawit. How to give and avoid depleting yourself. How to comfort and be firm. Hidden knowledge, and how to hide in plain sight, and more!