and I will not push the matter. The same goes for working through deeper emotional issues that often lie underneath chronic conditions. I don’t believe it is our place as healers to force these things- either people want to look at them or they do not. As healers it is our job to meet people where they are, not to sit on high horses complaining that they won’t climb the ladder. There are plenty of people who do want to go through the rigorous intense healing process, but for those who want something in between a doctor’s office and a full life overhaul, there should be options.
tongues out to show that the red bumps are gone or that the yellowish sides are now redder. Each week is, to me, an opportunity to teach more people about how simple, effective and non-frightening herbalism can be. I think a part of the reason this type of treatment is often looked down upon is that it borders on the allopathic. Western herbalists have done so much work to separate ourselves from Western medicine- to establish a strong energetic tradition that we’ve all come to greatly respect, that the idea of using herbs allopathically (or even borderline allopathically) just seems like a cop-out. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. People can deal with acute, semi-acute and chronic conditions at the same time, but the first two don’t always need a two hour consult and months of follow ups to treat. Each opportunity to educate a person or to alleviate their suffering is an opportunity that I’m going to leap at: the folk herbalism movement might seem strong from within its walls but its a fledgeling that can only spread through its roots. And people who discover that herbs ‘work’ for the first time at a first aid station, or farmers market stall, or even the supplement aisle at Whole Foods are going to keep looking to herbs for answers in the future. Maybe one day these people will want to take a deeper look at other, deeper aspects of their health; maybe they will want to learn more about how to prepare herbs, or how to use what’s in their garden. If they don’t, then it doesn’t affect me one way or another, but if they do, then they’ll know where to find me.
The nice thing about being a community herbalist is that it stays human. People go to the same markets every week; plenty of the people who come there I’ve known since I moved here as we frequent the same coffee shops and grocery stores. In a huge impersonal city, we’re got a relatively tight-knit community. It isn’t a cold, sterile doctor’s office, it’s a bright bustling market stall with a fake plastic Persian rug on the floor. I’ll sit people down. Take their pulses. Give them a cup of tea. Listen to them. Ask after their family members or how work is going. Genuine interest helps. Sometimes people are just happy to sit down for a quick chat, happy that someone remembers that their daughter wrote an article for the New York Times last week, and happy that you remember that their toe was hurting. On a quiet day, I’ll show people how to read their own pulses, or how to gauge changes in themselves by looking at their tongues. Some people come running up with their 116
Published on Jan 30, 2013