Day 144/365 - On graduation

5/24/17

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Yesterday I officially completed my first year at Arbor Vitae traditional school of Clinical Herbalism in NY. It was a full, comprehensive, immersive, and a little overwhelming year of diving headfirst into studying, identifying, and just being with plants. I loved every second of it!

Although it delegated a lot of the organizational and basic skill learning to do on non-class time, the inaugural year nevertheless showed the students how to approach herbalism. It taught us to recognise the wisdom of our ancestors and learn from their approach to healing. It also taught us that we can learn from the plants themselves, because they are our ancestors in a way, too. They have been here before us and will likely be here after (though hopefully we will continue to coexist symbiotically and with mutual respect). They can physically help our bodies heal when consumed, by providing the necessary nutrients, vitamins, trace minerals, and medicinal constituents that interact with our receptors and trigger biochemical reactions, which is known as phytotherapy. They also make our atmosphere more oxygen-rich via their photosynthesis and respiration. They grow on sides of the road and in depleted soils (a.k.a. ‘weeds’), absorbing toxins and clearing up polluted waste sites, making the soil and air richer and healthier. However, they also heal us in much more intricate and less literal ways. Just having plants in our lives, whether in our homes, personal gardens, public parks, or as decorations in urban civil architecture, makes us feel better. Their superficial beauty, intricate smell, and subtle energy brightens our day, whether consciously or not. They don’t ask for anything in return - they simply can’t help but feed our bodies, minds and souls.

If nothing else, this perspective is an amazing takeaway from the year. It’s like the saying, ‘once you see it, you can’t unsee it.’ And I saw the beauty and power of nature this year during my studies, and will continue to carry it and spread the message. If we can learn to see in different ways, we can help heal one another, our Earth and its inhabitants.