We have been trained that in order for the knowledge that you have to be worth anything you have to go to school, you have to pay thousands of dollars and get a piece of paper saying you accomplished these things. And while for some that may be what they need, or something that motivates them, I feel it adds so much stress to my life.
It wasn't too long ago, about a half an hour to be exact, since the last time I doubted my abilities as an herbalist. See the thing is, I haven't completed formal training as an herbalist. I was enrolled in the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine's Herbal Immersion course, which is fantastic and I highly recommend it, but we had a major shift in our income and I just wasn't able to continue the monthly payments and truthfully, I already knew much of what was being taught, because of my decade of studying and interacting with these plants. But I felt the need to learn more.
Here's the thing, if you were to ask me what medicinal properties a plant has off the top of my head, I freeze, the knowledge is there, I just freeze and the words don't want to come out. To some this may make them feel as if I was a phony or pretending to be something I am not.
So what happens when I want to share what I have learned through out the years? Will it be looked at as a legitimate resource? I truly hope so.
One of the women I look up to as a voice for the people who aren't quite mainstream, like me. Is April Graham of Wild Wood Apothecary. I discovered her about 2 months ago and for some reason she draws me in with her captivating talks about her past and using plant allies. Lately there have been posts of education and earning a herbalism certificate and how having those things make people look down to people who don't "earn" them but call themselves herbalists, she too hasn't had the formal training it seems like the world seeks. She was taught by her ancestors, which I truly believe is the best way. I believe that when your knowledge becomes a part of who you are it turns into wisdom. And this woman, April, is very wise.
But really how can I call my self an herbalist, if I don't have the 'experience' that all these people do? When I think about this I usually fall in to a bit of a depression and get lost in the thoughts of giving up using herbs.
But then something happens, I either go out side and have the most amazing spiritual connection to the plants and can feel the medicine in them just by being in their presence and hearing their spirits speak to me. Or I have to actually use the medicine I created, and to my surprise it works. I don't know why that is so shocking to me, that something I created, something that didn't have a recipe, something that came from raw materials and the labor of these two hands, can actually be beneficial. but every single time I create something new there is that shock of "Oh, this worked."
I go through this emotional circle time and time again. Sometimes, it is a different fear, sometimes I worry about an herbs safety, or I worry I am doing something wrong and will hurt someone.
Sometimes I worry I will get in trouble for making things and talking about things that can and do truly heal people. (Shhh don't tell anyone I used the 'H' word.) Sometimes I worry. And that worry turns to 'What ifs' then to massive self doubt in all aspects of my life, then it builds and I get snappy with those I love dearly, and after a while I have a release, usually full of tears and I am good for a while. I know its not normal, but it is me. I haven't used any of the remedies I have made to help me with this cycle of worry and emotion, because I'm scared. I am scared that some how I will change, some how I will become unrecognizable to myself or even others. But then I think about a brilliant phrase that means so much to me.
"Everything you have ever dreamed of is on the other side of fear."