A HANDFUL OF WEEDS
By MICHELE LAROCQUE
Not so long ago, relief from the ills that could beset a human or animal body was found in the hands of someone from one’s family or community, a wise soul who gave of her time in response to the suffering of another.
The medicines they used were readily available and easy to use. Homespun remedies and simple herbs that were warming or cooling, soothing or enlivening, loosening or binding in whatever way was best suited to restore wellness, be it to bring about a return to the day’s labors or to allow a more comfortable journey through the end of life. Compassion, patience, the ability to listen deeply, and the knowledge of which plants to work with were the skills of the traditional healer. Thankfully, these gentle folks still walk among us, and the capacity to practice this ancient art lives within all of us in varying degrees.
Every one of us has the ability to remember what our ancestors commonly knew. It is our heritage and birthright to care for ourselves and our kin with the gifts of Earth and the heart with which we are graced.
My intention with this series is to share information and to empower you, to inspire you to become enthusiastically involved in your own, your kin’s, and your community’s wellness.
In this age of rising medical costs, invasive procedures, prescriptions with multiple side effects as well as increasingly drug-resistant bacterial and viral infections, I feel it is critical that we reclaim the knowledge of how to care for ourselves as our ancestors did. There is nothing newfangled or exotic about working with common, local “weeds,” garden grown herbs, or those bought from a reputable merchant. It is what people have done for thousands of years.
Folk herbalism, or traditional herbalism, carries a long and rich tradition of self-care. All that’s required is a little time, space, a few tools and jars, and, most importantly, the willingness to follow the path. Dedication to one’s own wellness and that of our fellow beings, human and non-human alike, and an open-minded curiosity empower us to go a different route than where “conventional wisdom” speakers say we should go because only they have the intelligence to know what is right.
In the weeks that follow, I will introduce or re-introduce you to common weeds and herbs that can become powerful allies, as well as how to harvest, prepare, and work with them to support your health.
I rarely go to a doctor, although I’m not advocating avoiding them altogether. They have their place, and if you are seriously
ill or injured, by all means see a professional. However, there is much we can do for ourselves. It requires accountability and self-sufficiency rather than relying on someone else. Unprocessed, clean food and water, exercise, restful sleep, and community are all factors which helps us maintain wellness.
Wellness is not necessarily the absence of disease. It is the capacity for living authentically and finding joy even if we have pain or illness. We are living creatures. We are not static machines. We all have much to offer and much to receive if we open our hearts, allow ourselves to accept the gifts of a deep life rather than look to the glossy illusions of the modern world to nourish and sustain us.
May our journey take us deep into the heart of the living world.
Michele Larocque has worked with plants and studied herbal medicine for some 30 years. She studied with Rosemary Gladstar of Sage Mountain Herbal Center, continues to read voraciously on the subject, and has acquired a great deal of hands-on living experience in the form of self-care and counseling.