Saturday, October 30, 2010

folk herbalism and astrology

Two evenings this past week, Farm at Coventry hosted Phyllis Light, who talked about folk herbalism and astrology.Susan Hess and Phyllis Light in the herb kitchen of Farm at Coventry
Somewhere here in the house, there is a stack of 100+ year old copies of Baer's Agricultural Almanac that I picked up somewhere along the line. In each copy, there is an astrological chart accompanied by a line drawing of a man with the corresponding body parts labeled. I always understood the simple things, like planting with the waxing moon and weeding with the waning moon, but Phyllis pointed out that the different signs correspond with the elements - being dry, wet, fertile or infertile, and it was like a lightbulb turning on.The almanac shows astrological signs for each day of the month
She went on to talk about root doctors, Tommie Bass (who I'd heard of some years back after meeting Darryl Patton who wrote a book about Tommie), who was her teacher for a long time, and the way Appalachian folk herbalism has worked and how it came together from factions all over the world.
Both evenings were fascinating, and I was struck by Phyllis' comfortable speaking style. Both nights during the drive home, we discussed what we'd heard and it just kept unfolding. It reminded me of the class I'd taken earlier this month at The Rosemary House with Pam Montgomery. In both cases, it was in thinking about them later that the information was really digested. We car-pooled both nights to Farm at Coventry, so that allowed for more input on the ride home.
Another thing that I really love is that even though both of these great herbal teachers presented at venues that were an hour distant from my home - in different directions - walking in, I was greeted by herbies that I know either in person or have met on-line. The kitchen table was laden with refreshments to enjoy before and after the presentations.
That is an added bonus that is hard to describe. Perhaps it is because places like The Rosemary House and Farm at Coventry host these wonderful herbalists on a pretty regular basis as well as having other good herbal classes, that makes this area rich with herbal learning and enthusiasm.
I hear from herbies all the time who tell me that there is nothing herbal going on in their local area. Some can't find even a single person nearby to talk to or go into the woods or fields with, and here we are with this incredible wealth of learning opportunities. I'm very grateful to these herb businesses for bringing so much interest and knowledge to our area, and wonder if they know how much good they are doing.
So often, we go along in what we do without ever knowing if we make a difference. I can say without hesitation that these two - The Rosemary House and Farm at Coventry - are responsible for many, many people taking an interest in herbs and learning how to use them properly. I appreciate it.

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