Your deepest roots are in nature. No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of life you lead, you remain irrevocably linked with the rest of creation.
– Charles Cook
It’s the last day of 2014 and time for reflection on the past year as well as insight for the upcoming year.
Many made a commitment to themselves and their children this past year to learn about herbs and teach them to their children. The outpouring of emails in my inbox have been overflowing with stories from families returning to the old ways of medicine, using herbs that grow out of this amazing planet we all call home. Still others are just now joining in, determined that this will be the year they take the leap and learn about them with their children.
Wherever you are on your herbal journey, make a resolution/goal/intention to deepen that path more fully this year. Here are some ideas to get you started:
~ Commit to 1 or 2 herbs to focus on this year. This is especially helpful if you get overwhelmed with trying to learn about herbs for the first time. Choose a back issue or two of Herbal Roots zine that appeals to you and focus on them for the entire year instead of a month. Make every imaginable herbal remedy with that plant, even if it’s never been done before. How will you know the plants full range of use if you don’t try them all out? It’s better to know 5 herbs intimately than 50 superficially, you will have a better success rate at healing your friends and family with this method than trying to learn it all. Over time, that knowledge base will increase to knowing 50 plants intimately.
~ Pick a plant family to learn about this year. Learning about the details of a plant family can help in so many ways. For instance, when you’re wildcrafting or on a nature walk, you can learn to identify spot a member of that plant family even if you don’t know the specific genus and/or species. By doing so, you will know the major medicinal characteristics of that plant family. Thomas Elpel goes into detail in his botany books Shanleya’s Quest (and card game) and Botany in a Day.
~ If you haven’t already, start a nature/herbal journal. List the plants that grow in your backyard, write down the plants you want to grow in your garden this year, sketch pictures of the house plants or the skeletal remains of plants outdoors. This is a great time to do tree bark rubbings too and try to learn to identify trees by their bark. Commit to 10 minutes a day, or start with 3 days a week to write in your journals. Be sure to have a journal for each member of your family, even little ones who can’t write. They will enjoy tagging along, “writing” in their journals and “sketching” the plants too. Need some ideas on what to put in your nature/herbal journal? I’ve got lots of great ideas here.
~ Start a herbal study group in your community, whether it be homeschool, church, scouts or to the public in general. Learning together strengthens your resolve to actually take the time to study instead of adding it to the bottom of each day’s to do list that never gets crossed off.
~ If all of these things seem overwhelming, start small. Just make a commitment to go outside every day, rain or shine, for 10 minutes. Take a walk around the yard, block or through the garden to see what’s going on. How are the plants responding to the weather changes? What can you discover even when everything is under 6 inches of snow? You will be amazed at your discoveries. Over time, you might feel moved to write these observations down. You might also find that though you only intended to be outside for 10 minutes, an hour has gone by and the kids are building rafts to float down a nearby stream out of bark or picking rose hips to nibble on while they roll out snowballs to make a snow man. Generally, that first step is all it takes to open the door. Kids are more likely to go outside if you make the commitment to go yourself.
How about you, what are your goals/intentions/resolutions for this upcoming year? Have you made a commitment to get your kids outside, exploring nature and the plants more this year? Are you offering any classes for your homeschool group, church group or scouting group this year? Will you choose a few plants to focus on this year? How do you plan to add herbal knowledge to you and your kids’ everyday life? Take a few moments to consider what herbal resolutions you have for 2015. When you’re done, I’d love to hear about it, tell me in the comments!