I was blessed to get some input from fellow herbalist Jess.
I loved her encouraging discussion about walking the path and learning as you go.
It reminded me so much of how we need to take steps to get ANYWHERE and not be afraid to take them or to make a blunder now and then.
Jess is a 28 year old female, partnered, and mother of a 2 and a half year old son.
Jess lives her herbal life in South West Wisconsin in the Kickapoo Valley.
I asked her about her introduction into herbs and here is her story.
As a college student I was employed at a food cooperative. I spent hours
perusing the bottles of tinctures and other herbal wares, not knowing what
a majority of the plants looked like or even were. I felt intrigued and
called to learn more but did not have the faintest idea where to begin!
Probably a common predicament for many people first called to a craft.
Attendance at childbirth as a doula also sparked my interest in herbs,
childbearing women, and kids. Radical politics and an interest in
self-help health care, in my mind, lead naturally into a communion with
herbs and wild foods. Meanwhile back at the co-op a brochure for an
herbal conference at the Rocky Mountain School for Botanical Studies
arrived. I needed to go! A friend and I road tripped from central
Wisconsin to Colorado, to spend two days in herbal heaven. I listened to
amazing teachers, and saw people drinking these luscious herbs in quart
jars. Hmmm later in a workshop I learned about these nourishing
infusions per Susun Weed and I couldn't wait to make them myself. That
fall was transformation, I collected comfrey leaves, and dandelion roots
and ordered a couple pounds of nettles. It felt like a journey from
eyeing up the tinctures bottles to actually tasting and preparing herbs.
After some years of smoky bars and college life herbs were a breath of
fresh air, literally for sure!
Jess was 22 at the time.
Jess further shares about some influences along her herbal path. This is what she says about that.
Susun Weed and the Wise Woman Tradition was my introduction to herbs and I
hold those beliefs dear. Books and writings by Matthew Wood have added
depth to my understanding of people and plants. I admire Rebecca
Hartmans style on her blog The Herbwife's Kitchen; it appeals to my
straightforward sensibilities. Wilds foods enthusiast and author Steve
Brill inspires me. I've been studying with Aviva Romm and am awed by her
dedication to her students and general presentation of herbal medicine. I
love the herbal zines I've picked up over the years too, reading other
peoples experiences with plants. Anyone who is grounded and assisting
their community to be participants in their health care gets me excited.
And of course Nature herself, her work has guided and taught me
I was curious as to some of Jess' favortir methods of herbal applications and she shares this thought with us.
Adding fresh plants into cooking is delicious and one of my favorite ways
of using herbs. Standard brews or nourishing infusions are a regular
fixture on the counter. I most often use water based preparations, teas
and decoctions, but like to keep the pantry full of all sorts of
concoctions like tinctures, oils, honey, and salves.
Some of the events that have encouraged and shaped Jess are reflected in this statement.
Within a couple of months I saw Susun Weed twice in 2002 and those events
propelled me into plant medicine. Honesty and nourishment stick out in my
mind as something I carry on from those lectures.
Some of her community herbal work is teaching medicine making classes at a Free School. Mostly Jess' work
with the public is impromptu, occurring on playdates or over tea in her
home. He would like to offer specific herbal classes to birth workers
such as doulas and midwives, someday.
She offers consults with friends and family but does not currently advertise as such.
Jess states, I love bringing super star teachers to my area to speak!
How can people contact you to find out more about what you offer locally, Jess?
Email is great: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jess, Do you have a vision for your work in the future or are you seeing how it
Sharing the outdoors and medicine making with my son is at the moment
central to my vision as an herbalist. In the future, I would love to work
in a cooperative setting with other herbalists and offer barter or sliding
scale classes and services. Continue to network and meet other grassroots
herbalists. I want to continue to teach people skills to make their own
medicines and ID plants.
I asked Jess to leave us with one word of wisdom and she shares this very encouraging thought.
I used to get hung up on finding the right or best way to make herbal
preparations. I would decide to make something and then obsess over the 6
different ways I could make it, but now I revile in experimenting and
making errors. It has expanded my understanding of plants and taken
some pressure off; its supposed to be fun after all!