It’s been a year since I started working my way through the distance learning program at the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine, herbalist Michael Moore’s DVD course. My hope was to complete it in a year, and I’m not too far from that goal, although I must say completion within a certain time frame is no longer important to me. The course contains 12 lessons in Therapeutics, 10 in Materia Medica (I’m preparing to begin Lesson 10), and as I near the end, I’m starting to feel saddened that eventually there’ll be no more classes left! I estimate I’ve gone through somewhere around 200 hours of lectures already, and after so much in depth and almost daily study, “hanging out” with both teacher and students, it definitely has become a part of my life – one of the more fulfilling parts to say the least.
This year as I delve into harvesting herbs, both in my yard and in the woods, I find I have a more thorough knowledge than last year. It’s amazing to me the plants that seem to jump up and say “Here I am!” whereas last year, I may have passed them by over and over while on woodland walks without knowing what I was missing. Most certainly the world of plants has opened up before me in a way I never felt in the past when perusing petunias or weeding around my rosebushes. There’s something about wild plants and medicinal herbs that seems alive in ways I never imagined. Where once I would laugh up my sleeve when an herbalist would mention talking to the plants of the forest, I now catch myself saying, “Hello there, beautiful mullein! Don’t you look lovely!” (Don’t tell – no one’s around when I’m doing it. I think the mullein enjoys the company, though…)
I still have romantic visions of growing to be an old woman in some small log home filled with herb bundles hanging from the rafters, maybe a goat tied up out front. And I’d have a really cool walking stick, not one of those fancy store bought models, but something wooden, found and polished. But for right now I’m perfectly content being a suburban herbalist who talks to the magical plants I used to call weeds. And when soon I’ve completed the SWSBM course, I’ll know at that moment my studies have only just begun.