Herbalism: Nature’s Answer for Nurture
By Loretta Boyer McClellan, July 12, 2017
If you suffer from dis-ease, anguish, imbalance or pain, you must be “partial, fragmented, or broken.” Thankfully, I discovered that wholeness is inherent; no matter our circumstance, we are all whole! In this pivotal learning experience, interconnection—a mutual, energetic, often spiritual connection between beings, be they human, animal, plant, or other—was clarified as a key factor in the well-being equation.
It was this quest for rediscovering my truth along with well-being that brought about a re-connection to my lifelong love of nature. Along this path I’ve also delved deeply into the wellspring of Meditation and the Self-healing Arts, which became an important opportunity to ground myself, to apply peace liberally. It also shaped my view of Nature as a source of immeasurable peace and joy—and wisdom.
I was meditating in a forest of maple, fir, eucalyptus, madrone and redwood trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California when I sensed a very strong personality nearby; it was bold and confident, with serious bravado. I was expecting this to come from a towering redwood—the showy, celebrated celebrity of the northern California coast. When I opened my eyes, I learned an important lesson: It was the nondescript, quite plain maple. In other colder climates such as New England, maples are heralded as the most vibrant and colorful, but where I was, that could never be. Regardless, the message was that it was not the outward appearance, but the being itself who taught me to pay attention to subtleties, and that teaching opportunities come from unexpected places.
The next time I was meditating in the forest I was better prepared, but still in for a surprise. Intuitively, I placed my hands on the trunk of a giant fir tree, to just be with the tree, open to whatever subtlety I might learn, as Maple had shown. In my mind’s eye I saw on the other side of the trunk where a wound was. When I finished meditating, I looked around to the other side and there it was, the wound, exactly where and how I had seen it in my mind’s eye, down to the very last detail. I was awestruck, yet again.
These Teacher Trees, as I came to know, appreciate, and love deeply, had more than a botanical essence; they were indeed beings who connected with me, spirit to spirit. These blessings and comfort of holding hands with Mother Earth and all her gifts—and the creation of Earth and all her gifts I attribute to God—have been a profound partner in gratitude and sustained joy. Coupled with creativity in my art and writing—most often works with nature as the theme or center of interest—expression, connection, and inspiration were often birthed from earth, sea and/or sky.
When social media seemingly burst with quality Herbalism study opportunities for me in 2016, a lightbulb didn’t just go off, but shined brightly across the Universe: Nature is indeed my steadfast companion; however, nature not only replenishes well-being, but can steward it as well. Enter my dear friend, Herbalism—the beautiful study and engaged art of partnering supportive herbs with beings to promote self-healing.
Beauty in media design was prevalent (As a seasoned marcom manager and brand designer, I couldn’t help myself but notice!), but as I read the premise for each Herbalism course, the lessons spoke to me on a cellular level. My entire being, knew. This is for you, Lori. This is an important part of your truth. I then saw myself again in my mind’s eye as a preschooler, making “concoctions” for what seemed like hours. I remembered dandelions and white clover I had admired, picked from my front lawn, mixed with water, and coiled in their entirety in the bottom of a little paper cup. (I didn’t drink the infusion; perhaps instinctively I knew our California lawn had been sprayed with herbicide). I had previously remembered mindfully connecting with these herbal beauties, but remembering the herbs in the cup was life-changing! I wanted to be an herbalist as a very young child! Even then, it was an integral part of me! I then remembered how in high school I’d thought I’d easily ace Chemistry, but alas, did not. Instead, it was a struggle. I knew at that moment of reflection that despite the highly anticipated high school module on making facial cream, chemistry had been only math for me at the time—finite equations with a breakdown of elements that, for me, had been missing a key component: Plant allies in their pure, unadulterated state, offer more than just use and purpose, but also…understanding and undeniable unity.
Looking back on my body of work as a writer, artist, and poet, nature has been a recurring, even integral theme, which I wrote about in-depth in my memoir, The Nature of BEing: A Healing Journey. Camping, walks in the woods and along the beach throughout my life, spending time in my tree in my backyard as a young girl, they were all aspects of my inherent nature of be-ing with Nature. Now that Herbalism became forefront in my life again—a teacher in my further rediscovery of my true nature—it was time to get better acquainted with my inspiring plant friends, up close and personal. I began studying with online herbalism schools, as well as continuing my studies elsewhere with every book and course that resonated. I began making Calendula salve to help a loved one with chronic psoriasis, which led me to better understand how a topical, soothing treatment is just the beginning to addressing the root cause of systemic dis-ease.
Our plant allies help in many ways to bring our selves back into balance—body, mind and spirit. The joy of serving my loved ones through nature became my own healing balm. Herbalism for myself and others became another key to thriving in this earthly sphere.
Herbalism uses plants in their whole state, whether flowers, leaves, stems, or roots, including their energetics or attributes beyond physical observation. Each part imparts its distinct abilities to promote a restoration of balance, a reminder that we are indeed whole in any circumstance. It is this whole-ness that provides the ease in which we may not only contemplate, but practice interconnection, or inter-being, which provides a most-welcome, expansive space to self-heal. Being an Herbalism student has become a defining compass and direction for me—yet another example of a life-honoring gift of simple truth. Simple herbs and simple recipes, admired, utilized and made by hand and infused with love, connect us—to the plant, to the nurture of nature, and to this expansive community of abundance.
Disclaimer: The author is not an attorney, medical professional, nutritionist or dietician. Content on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for professional legal advice, medical treatment or diagnosis and is not monitored or evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration/FDA. Consult your health care provider if you are experiencing any symptoms and before using any herbal product. Whenever wildcrafting or foraging in the wild for herbs, be accompanied by an expert and always confirm plant identity with absolute certainty before using or consuming them. Any application of the material provided is at the reader’s discretion and is his or her sole responsibility.
The heart of Botaniscape™ and budding Herbalist/Wildcrafter, Lori McClellan sees the Art of Herbalism as her lifelong connection to Nature and wonder manifested most fully—another exciting medium and source of abundant joy. A Journalist, Author, Artist and Poet, creating as Loretta Boyer McClellan, her works as a writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry; conscious PR, brand, graphic design, and communications; and as an Arts instructor, journalist and artist, “sized the canvas,” so to speak, for a fruitful life of expression, connection and inspiration. Author of The Nature of BEing: A Healing Journey, The Misthaven of Maine Series, and Dodging Raindrops: Poems and Prose of Beauty, Peace and Healing, Lori creates from a place of Oneness. Writing, meditating, painting, and her relationship with Nature and all beings, most tangibly through Herbalism, are her connection to the Infinite.