November, 2021.

There are a few notable reasons why I first began studying herbal healing, and alternative healing modalities. The first, unsurprisingly, would be my interest in the natural world. I was raised in rural Ontario, and for half of that time, my family was off-grid. As a child in that time, I would have nothing but moss, loon calls and rare wolf sightings to delight my dreams. My brother would build zip-lines from tree to tree. I have a cherished photo from a disposable camera of myself proudly displaying a bow and arrow I’d fashioned for myself out of a branch, some twine, and a bit of time with a pocket knife. The world was full, and so alive in those days. I would spend an entire afternoon squatting on the Canadian shield, in the middle of a quiet lake, studying the language of the moss formations that had dried in the sun. Each molecule of water, sky and earth sang to me.

As I grew older, my fascination with moss and water and dreaming about what the fish and the birds had to say began to dwindle. Elders and peers of mine had fascinations with other material things. Such things were framed as more important. I still longed for deep conversations with the soil and rocks. I still longed to play among them, while they held me up and I called out for the fairies to reveal themselves, wielding my wooden dagger and a pocket full of stones.

Mica rock

I was a sort of weird kid in a small town. I struggled to find a community that truly resonated with me. In my adolescence, I found yoga. I listened to The Grateful Dead and wrote songs about the earth that I didn’t yet understand. These were practices that felt grounding to me. A way to connect with that inner child that found wonder in all. I took psychedelics and marveled at the magnificence of trees. One evening, I lay in the soil and told my friends that I knew deep in my soul, that I was a stone. Part of the Canadian Shield.

I often find lots of humour in the revelations I’ve had while sitting with psychedelics. I think the most amusing part is how simple the lessons are. How it sometimes takes a great journey to understand that we are one, that you were correct all along in your childhood wonder, that magic exists and that god is nature and nature is everything. The simplicity of knowing.

I am a seeker of knowledge. You may have guessed by now. All of my life I have attempted to outfit myself with a metaphorical tool belt, equipped with things to allow me to understand the great mysteries of life. One of the most pivotal moments for me – with the guidance of psychedelics – was realizing how much I needed to trust myself.

Mushrooms on a Log

Trusting myself began my journey in herbal medicine. It was what I turned to when I realized that I had given so much of my autonomy to doctors. I do trust doctors and I believe that they are deserving of trust – what made me uncomfortable was realizing that I had never trusted myself, or my intuition, when it came to my health. I had given doctors complete authority over my body and health. I would often go to a doctor, tell them my symptoms, and I would be met with an answer similar to, “it’s all in your head”, or leave with a prescription for something that I would know nothing about. It was frustrating, yet I felt as though there was no way out of that system.

It feels like it has taken me a long time to arrive here. Knowing that my body is always healing, perpetually. When we treat the body for something, we are simply encouraging the body to heal. Whether it is traditional plant medicine, or modern allopathic medicine, the sentiment remains the same.

Your body is healing every moment of the day. Your body wants to be healthy, to exist in the world with ease and in harmony. Our greatest tool in health is to trust this fact: the body knows how to heal itself. From this perspective, it isn’t exactly plants that are healing us. It is our own selves doing the work of healing. The herbs become a supporting role, a reminder, a tool to help with the work.. But the actual “ work” is done by the body. Herbalists don’t heal you, herbs don’t heal you, it is your own body that is in collaboration with all of these things.

I’ve heard allopathic medicine described aptly as “Heroic Medicine”, which makes a lot of sense when we learn the history of its development in war. In herbal medicine, there is not one hero. Herbal medicine is “Wholing Medicine”, in which one works in collaboration with plants, spirit, knowledge and an understanding and trust in the complexities of healing. May our healing be as dynamic as this life and this world. May our healing be a collaboration with the healing of all, and for all generations of the past and future.

Rock with Moss

Photos provided by Serena Mor