Like most children, the natural world was a place of wonder for me in my childhood, especially dark woods and the ocean. The plant kingdom held and still holds a sense of mystery to me and the animal kingdom has always been close to my heart. In my teen years, I first learned about herbalism from the older women I interacted with and one nice lady took me for a trip to the mountains on the outskirts of Melbourne, in Australia. We visited an herb farm and bought seedlings and books.
I remember that the proprietors had two geese, which acted like guard dogs. They chased me through the gardens and then into the shop, where everyone laughed, telling me that they wouldn’t have hurt me. I kept peering over at the two of them, gazing directly through the window at me, while I checked out the books, plants and other products for sale. The smell of the drying herbs overhead, hanging from the rafters, mixing in with the sweet incense, oils and live plants gave me a secret thrill I still can’t articulate. It was like finding a true home. Sampling a cup of herbal tea (it was Chamomile) deepened my experience into the world of herbs and I’ve never looked back.
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) Image by Manfred Richter on Pixabay
Well, maybe I looked sideways, since I still had to earn a living and back then, I wasn’t aware of how to start a business, not to mention an herbal business. I learned quickly that established medicine and pharmaceuticals took precedence over the use of natural products, which was akin to witchcraft or simply an old wives’ tale to be scoffed at.
It wasn’t until later when I discovered that the chemicals and side effects of mainstream medications were making me and my family sick, no matter how well they worked to deal with the symptoms. That was the problem: the medicine might have dealt with the symptoms, but the underlying causes were waiting to flare up again. Learning that eating a whole food diet without added chemicals was a step in the right direction. At first, I was disappointed when I started dabbling with herbalism, since the medications I was used to contained manufactured compounds at higher strengths and doses, meaning that relief was a lot faster than the herbs. Again, I discovered the difference. Mainstream medications are a quick fix and even the long-term drugs are maintaining the status quo, without dealing with the underlying issues of poor health and bad eating habits.
Image by Jackson David on Pixabay
Holistic Healing = Mind-Body-Spirit-Earth
When eating a healthy, balanced diet and using herbal medicine intermittently as well as daily for ongoing maintenance, I discovered that my need for the mainstream medications dropped sharply. I was no longer suffering chronic inflammation (which was also helped by dropping wheat and gluten from my diet) and I wasn’t reaching for the pills when I got a headache or back pain.
Cutting out processed foods and concentrating on organic whole foods, along with creating my own medicine and teas, has helped me develop a much healthier lifestyle without paying for weight programs, costly medication and regular doctor visits.
My first step into becoming properly educated about herbalism was when I found the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine. After wading through countless herbal schools and programs, I discovered Chestnut accidentally. Curious to learn more, I clicked on their link and immersed myself in their intensive teachings - for 2.5 years.
In comparison to the other programs, Chestnut offer several courses, with the main one being the Herbal Immersion program. Opting to pay per month, I signed up and was immediately ensconced in gorgeous materials, such as workbooks that were rich in detail and beautiful images, countless videos, a forum to share your progress with other students and staff and other wonderful perks. (These include discounts at various herbal and gardening suppliers.)
The Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine present their courses in such a lighthearted and user-friendly way that you forget that you’re learning and delving deep into the world of medicine growing and making. From the ground up, you learn about climate and planting regions, the soil, growing and nurturing herbs from seed, organic gardening, harvesting, foraging, medicine making and much more.
The projects were so much fun, which took away my fear of making my own tinctures, teas and elixirs. After two and a half years, I have successfully completed the Herbal Immersion Program and am excited to share my products and wisdom with you!
My first tinctures - a relaxing blend and ginger - all organic
Over the years, I have read countless books and grown many herbs, mostly for culinary and ritual use. Now that I know about herbal medicine, I love the idea of offering herbal products not only in line with good manufacturing processes, but which are aligned with Pagan principles. Being a Crone myself, I deal with issues such as Hypothyroidism, occasional adrenal fatigue, thinning hair and type 2 diabetes.
I have to take medicine for my thyroid but I formulate my own teas and tinctures to help combat the side effects and to help my thyroid perform at optimum levels. Hormonal issues such as hot flashes are a thing of the past for me, however I am still dealing with thinning hair and keeping my sugar down! When you’re over 50, post-menopausal and dealing with health issues, it can be a challenge, especially when you are stressed with a hectic lifestyle. Other conditions can exacerbate these issues, such as depression, anxiety and personal problems.
Image by Tracy Lundgren on Pixabay
From a psychological point of view, women are considered (or consider themselves) past their prime when they’re over 30 – not to mention 40 or 50. When I reached 50 I thought it was all downhill from there. With my health dwindling, enduring joyless employment and suffering from depression over being old with nothing to show for my life (or so I thought), I felt like I’d already had my turn and that I’d failed miserably.
I decided that it was time to turn over a new leaf and make my life worth living, starting with my diet. I knew that I was giving my body terrible fuel when it came to eating, so I started researching good health. I dropped processed foods where possible, gave up wheat and gluten, prepared organic meals or chose healthy options when eating out and explored alternative healing. Getting back into herbalism has also reignited my Pagan side. Like herbalism, I dabbled over the years with Paganism and wrestled with my atheistic/agnostic thoughts all along. Getting back into nature, growing my own herbs and veggies and seeing the correlations between medicinal and magical herbalism helped me re-affirm my path.
Image by Waldkunst on Pixabay
Now I feel like being a Crone is honorable and righteous. I think of my life now as a second wind, filled with possibilities and continued learning. To pass on that learning and to help other women in similar circumstances is exciting. I look forward to connecting with you!
When asked about getting older, my favorite artist - Vali Myers - once said: