(this is part 4.1 of a 10-part series, a life's journey to become an herbalist observing gail faith edward's article on the subject. you can find part 1, part 2 and part 3 here.)
gail's first part of the fourth step in her ten-fold path is to open your wild heart and connect with your inner wild nature. she says:
"It is this open, wild and compassionate heart that resonates with the wild heart of the earth, the wild heart of the plants. In order to work with plants, and people, intuitively you must be able to connect with them. Opening one's wild heart clears communication pathways…words are unnecessary, communication is instantaneous. There becomes a knowing. This is different from what you read in books. This is the true body of knowledge, this is wisdom. It is accrued over many years of observation, study, practice and commitment. This knowing comes in moments of intuition, when many diverse facts converge into one coherent understanding. You enter this path to the degree that you are able to open your wild heart. Practice doing so every day."
part of connecting with my inner wild nature has been to let it become part of my outer nature. with so many feelings of depression, frustration and being deeply overwhelmed with everything in my life (there is such a thing as TOO much of a good thing...), i have lost part of who i am. the past 6 years have been an intense mix of emotions through becoming a mother again twice, leaving an outside job to pursue my dreams of being an herbalist and homesteader, homeschooling and starting a new business that i stumbled into by accident (but am oh so grateful of). through all of it, i lost all sense of self. i was so busy doing all these things that i forgot about myself, my true self, my powerful self. the past few months i have allowed myself to be me and rediscover who this person is. i feel like i've been in a chrysalis and now i'm slowly emerging, keeping the best parts of my old self while adding on with new parts.
for me, connecting to my inner wild nature has led me to become more primal. in my diet, i'm eating more primally: adding wild foods to my meals such as nettles, chickweed, dandelions and whatever else i can find in addition to eating more meat, especially wild meat when i can get it. i eat more meat at breakfast and as i've known this about myself for years, eating more meat protein makes me feel better physically. i've not made or eaten bread on a daily basis and the lack of bread in my diet has helped with how i feel as well. i've also taken a break from drinking alcohol and am grateful for doing so. it's been over 10 weeks now and not feeling crappy when i wake in the morning or cloudy all evening long is wonderful.
i've been drinking more infusions too. comfrey and nettles are my two favorites. i'm wishing i'd harvested more as i don't think i have enough to see me through winter. these mineral rich infusions have nourished my wild heart and strengthened it over the past few months.
in my physical appearance, i've become more wild too. my decision to dread my hair has been liberating. i love decorating my dreads with bling i've made from natural objects...bone, copper wire, shells and wood. i feel more like ayla with bits here and there. an occasional leaf, twig or blade of grass from outside adds to the wild nature.
i'm attracted to earrings made from natural elements...bone, stone and wood are my current favorites and i'm collecting animals bones to make more jewelry from (living on a farmette has definite advantages to being able to accumulate animal bones...). mice, voles, fox, raccoon, skunk and possum bones are all commonly found around here. chicken feathers are beautiful and vibrant and abundant as well. adding these elements to adorne me makes me feel more wild and alive.
i love tattered looking clothing and scour etsy for ideas to make clothing, using pieces i have that i'm tired of combined with a few new finds at thrift shops.
but learning to open your wild heart and connect with your inner wild nature is more than just this. kiva rose's herb energetics course is a great way for me to connect with the plants on this deeper level. i'm only about halfway through the course but everything i've learned so far has been a blessing in this aspect.
being able to communicate with the plants, being able to understand them on a higher level is paramount to being an herbalist. plants speak to us but as jim mcdonald said at the traditions in western herbalism conference, for them to speak to us on a level we can understand, in a personified manner, while being highly spiritual for us, is a step down for them. we need to learn to speak with them on their level and understand their messages as they can best communicate with us, through our senses of taste, touch and smell. if we can learn to do that by opening our wild hearts, we have the key to understanding what any plant has to say to us, for better or worse.
this step is something i have toyed with over the years but i am now only beginning to fully understand the necessity of it and learning to apply it to my daily life as an herbalist. connecting to the herbs through daily use, observation and intuition is the only way to fully connect with them. trusting my instincts, listening for them, paying attention to them is vital to a full understanding of the herbs and the medicine they have to offer. doing something i have been told to shut off for all these years is hard to do and probably one of the hardest steps in this journey. by starting with my physical self, i am slowly bringing my wild inner nature back alive and learning to open my wild heart and connect with the herbs on that higher level.