I guess I’m like most herb loving people throughout history – I’m self taught. That’s because herbalism has never really been the sort of thing we could sign up for when enrolling in a University. And in many ways I think that’s a good thing – because historically herbalism has been the “people’s medicine”. Anyone is free to learn it from their elders, books, etc. and anyone is free to use their obtained knowledge by, say, growing chamomile in their garden, drying it, and making a tea to help with a myriad of physical issues. The accessibility is one of the things I adore about herbalism. But when you feel it’s right for you to dig in – I mean really dig in – and go more in-depth with your herb studies, where do you go? Do you pack up the family and move into a cabin with an old mountain woman who raises goats and talks to herself? The kids may enjoy the goats, but that’s not a practical solution. Since herb schools are few and far between, many of them offer distance learning programs. That was the decision I came to, so I’ve started studying with the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.
I have been looking into herb schools by the dozens over the last several years, and quite honestly I found the search confusing. What’s a reputable herb school, after all? You can’t get a degree in herbalism since there are no government regulations (fine with me – I’ll tell you why some other day), and there are so many distance learning programs that I felt overwhelmed. But one kept coming back to me again and again. Perhaps that’s because over the years I got in the habit of finding lots of free information on herbs at SWSBM. And the founder and master herbalist, Michael Moore, had begun to be one of my herb heroes. (I mean, if there were herbalist bubble gum cards, people would be trading whole packs for a single Michael Moore card.)
Unfortunately for the world of herbalists, Michael Moore passed on in February. But thankfully his wife Donna keeps their distance learning program going. What’s completely unique about this program is that Michael himself is still teaching the class. That’s because both courses (Clinical and Constitutional Herbalism and Materia Medica) are all on DVD and were actually filmed a few years ago when the “brick and mortar” school was still open in Brisbane, Arizona. So I feel privileged to be learning from Michael Moore even after his passing.
This is no measly endeavor and I’ll be taking both courses at the same time, so I figure that it will take me a good couple of years to complete. I’m going to take you along with me since many of you have expressed to me your interest in learning herbalism more formally. No, I won’t let you have my class notes. But I will keep you posted on my progress and I’ll share my struggles and triumphs along the way. There will be many of each, I am sure, since I’m a work-at-home mother who also blogs and spends much time tromping through field and forest in search of wild herbs. I’ve barely begun, but this has already proven to be something worth the effort. Perhaps by hearing my experiences, you’ll be inspired to learn more about herbs too. Or if you feel herb school might be the thing for you, perhaps you’ll be inspired to follow your dream. Either way, I hope you’ll come with me on my new journey.