plant allies for healing the collective grief
There are many reasons that we grieve - sometimes it is facing and working through the losses in our own lives, sometimes it is the collective suffering that we see globally or within our communities. We can grieve the loss of loved ones, of routines that brought us comfort, or the adaptations in our landscapes caused by climate change. Whatever it is that brings these feelings into our lives.
In our consumer-driven, late stage capitalist world, success looks like a surplus of material items, looks like having power over others & always presenting a happy in-control face to the world. The reality is that this idea of success is not attainable for most people. Living in a time of globalization, climate change & state sanctioned violence, no doubt will have an effect on the ways in which we live our lives. On the one hand, many of us are living better than our ancestors ever did, but this doesn’t negate the need for collective consciousness and healing.
My journey with plant medicine began more than twelve years ago, living in a collective house in Portland, Oregon. One day I walked into my backyard and found a plant with the sweetest smell. She smelled like lemons! I soon became fascinated with plants, and would study all the formulas in the wellness aisle of the natural food store. Sitting with open books, I started my first herb garden.
Years of learning from others and teaching myself, I began my journey with herbalism - but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago, when I rented a house with a yard in Eureka, that I started a big herb garden. Growing plants became the ultimate self care, and as I was working with unhoused folks struggling with addiction and chronic illness, I started to make respiratory health teas and tinctures to share. If my lungs and mild asthma struggled in the damp rainy Humboldt coastal weather, than what is it like for folks who slept outside and dealt with chronic respiratory issues? Each year in Northern California, we lose unhoused folks to pneumonia, a disease that in our highly developed and wealthy country should not still be taking lives.
But when we look at chronic illness, we need to look at it’s deep roots. Chronic, preventable illness is often rooted in issues like childhood trauma or the stress of not being able to make ends meet. Physical health is undeniably connected with our life experiences, and our life experiences are undeniably connected to ancestral and institutional trauma. For this, collective healing is necessary.
I’d like to share with you a couple of recipes & rituals for healing our collective grief, through healing our individual traumas. As a self and community taught folk herbalist, I believe fully in intuitive herbalism, and that we must go towards the plants that we are drawn to. Plants are our allies, and we choose who we want to work with.
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