Monday, June 13, 2016

Classes At The Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference

Deepening Plant Communication Through Illustration Plant Walk with Kristine Brown

Now I’m not an artist. I have enough artistic know-how to create a stick figure. But despite that I took my first drawing class since high school – and it was awesome!

Kristine Brown offered a really wonderful weed walk around the camp. As we learned about each plant we were drew blind contour and quick sketches. As you can see I won’t be in a plant id book anytime soon the class definitely helped me have a better understanding.

Solomon’s Seal and Solomon’s Plume (False Solomon Seal) were the most memorable plants for me. My mother has always tried to propagate Solomon’s Seal in the woods down by my aunt and uncle’s house and in our own garden. The plant’s delicate flowers and posture have always fascinated me and I love watching the leaves change in the fall. Solomon’s Seal’s root has been used for joint health mostly and may relieve some joint pain. Solomon’s Plume has a more prominent tuft of flowers but displays similar health benefits.

Even though I was aware before the plant walk it was wonderful to actually sit down, look at the plant, and focus on what was in front of me. It is so rare to be able to truly learn a plant one on one before immediately throwing it into a mason jar or a crock-pot.

Herbs, Slavery, and The South with Angelique Moss Greer

This was an incredibly educational class. Greer has been studying the herbal and medical practices of slavery for over two decades. Her original source of information was her grandmother, or as she warmly called her, Granny. Greer’s granny had an intense and almost photographic memory of the plants and remedies she used over the years. From her grandmother and further studies, Greer was able to find the roots of many American holistic practices, and was even able to explain how many aspects of modern medicine are directly linked to practices slaves brought with them from Africa.

What struck me was her relation to Asafetida. Like so many small Pa Dutch children Greer remembered having a tiny pouch of the stinky stuff around her neck. These were and still are used to keep children from getting sick as school starts. It was then that I realized that we all have similar practices and remedies. By trying to disregard each other as “folklore” or “superstition” we are really hindering ourselves as a society.

It was then that I also realized we all have people in our lives that we need to learn from. Like Greer’s granny, my mother is a seemingly endless wealth of plant knowledge. I know I talk a lot about how grateful I am, but it was in that class I realized we have to listen to each other more or we will never move forward.

So get out there! Visit your aunt that’s still back in your hometown! Take a local history class at your community college. Start an herbalism gathering in your own town to share ideas and find sources. You’ll never know what you might find. 

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