Witch Life

The Calling: Becoming an Herbalist

I recently announced that I was returning to my herbalism studies to obtain my certification. I’ve been trying to find the words to express why it is I’m doing this. Its not been easy to put passion and intuition and magick into words to share publicly. When I told my husband it was so easy because we are in sync with each other and all I needed was to say that this was something I was drawn to do and he completely understood. Maybe some of you understand too. Thankfully, some amazing herbalists I’ve been studying from must have also had to put this into words and gave me some aid. Its all about The Calling.

In her book, Southern Folk Medicine, Phyllis D. Light devotes an entire chapter to The Calling. In it she discusses the various beliefs and superstitions about how people become or are made into healers in the Appalachian region including feeling drawn to the practice.

Light says, “the calling, an urge or drive that resonates so deeply within the psyche that to stray from the pathway could only bring internal conflict and pain. People who have a calling in an area generally have exceptional talent in that area.”

I’ve learned what happens when I stray from the path. I spent a little over a year mired in a judgmental, commercialized cess pool that turned natural healing and magick into a brand rather than a practice. I’m still cleansing myself of this and making amends to the friendships that were hurt by this. I’m also still finding my way back to my path, the one I was called to. It was painful and stressful to stray and returning is like coming home, only better.

The Calling is also more and more important in this political, social, ecological climate. Interestingly enough, the best quote I found to explain this is from 2010 and still appropriate.

Jesse Wolf Hardin opens his Plant Healer magazine in 2010 with an article called Plant Healers: A Resurgence of the Grass Roots Spirit in Western Folk Herbalism. The first paragraph of this article lays out the mentality of folk herbalists in the world we work in.

“It has likewise been an admirable struggle for many of you plant people and herbalists, in your own ways scrambling like the sun fueled woodbine to make your effective participation possible in what are clearly troubled economic times. Many of you are motivated by an insistent desire to expand your studies or increase your teaching effectiveness, explore new ideas and forge alliances of meaning and purpose..and even more so, in the face of increasing health risks and rising health care prices, excessive regulation and the pharmaceutical hegemony of our times. That you are reading this journal, most likely means that you know folk skills have never been more essential to our well beings and self sufficiency than they are right now, in this challenging modern day and age.”

I am heeding the call. The passionate draw I feel to the spiritual path of folk medicine and plant remedies. The call to action I receive daily when family and friends tell me that their doctor finally admitted something was wrong after years of telling them it was nothing or because they were old or fat or female or whatever OR are dying because a doctor prescribed a medication that has worse side effects than the symptoms it treats and now learn that medication is under investigation because its killing thousands. When loved ones cannot afford preventative medicine but their insurance will cover treating the symptoms of illnesses they inevitably are diagnosed with…this is needed.

I’ve been inspired to create something bigger than be but first I need to make sure I am prepared with an herbal education and a spiritual foundation. I’m working on that now. Once that foundation is laid and the seeds are planted and nurtured, I’ll begin to share this magick with more people. I’m heeding the call.