In our new monthly blog series, we spotlight an alumni of the Berkeley Herbal Center.
This month’s article is about Sandy Siegal! She graduated this year and opened up her absolute dream of a shop in Larkspur, California: Botanicalife.
We caught up with her and learned a bit more about Sandy’s life, her passion for herbs, and how the Berkeley Herbal Center made a difference for her!
Sandy Shares Her Journey to Herbalism
From an early age I amused myself for hours in the garden making potions from flowers and leaves, trying my best to heal sick animals or evoke magic. I felt especially called by the bleeding hearts and mountain laurel as they seemed to be calling me from a secret forest life that was different from my own.
My love of nature, admiration of spirit, and a comfort with visual language led to me to a career in photography, one which I greatly enjoyed but felt a constant pull towards becoming a healer.
Intuitively, I knew that my modalities for healing were nutrition, herbs, and energy work.
My path began at Bauman College, where nutrition and my love of food as medicine answered a lot of my questions but I felt that there was something missing.
I kept finding myself on the BHC website while I was studying. One day, I took the leap.
Sandy Goes to Herbal School
About a year into my nutrition practice I signed up for the program at Berkeley Herbal Center.
I knew that herbs had been effective for me and my family, but right away with “herb of the week,” I learned that
there are so many ways to appreciate a plant–bathing with, meditating with, internally, topically, and more!
I have never felt as comfortable in any realm as I do with plants—I finally feel connected and at home with them.
BHC incorporates science, hands-on herb walks, studying ancient traditions and learning from past and present work of great herbalists. By sharing our personal experiences of each herb with our classmates, we grew to be a tightknit group and learned so much from each other.
As someone in my 40s it was definitely a challenge to learn all of this new information, there’s a ton to learn! Writing the monographs, making medicine, and then interning at the Sonoma County Herb Exchange really helped me with that.
We also had incredible botany classes, which put the ecosystem and interconnectedness with the plants and the seasons into perspective.
On the first day of class both years at BHC we created a vision board—mine was always a shop!
It has been incredible to see that dream recognized with Botanicalife.
I love taking the time to connect with community, listen to what people are going through in these trying times, and seeing how we can support them. Whether it is through conversation, a custom tea blend, a flower essence or elixir, or just the right candle for their altar.
Through my journeys and wanderings, I found many like-minded people sharing their knowledge and making art, textiles, jewelry, ceramics, and skin and body care products, all inspired by a love of the natural world with intent on conscious, ethical, greener living.
So in addition to herbal remedies and community connection, we’re able to offer wellness workshops, astrology and tarot readings, and pop ups from makers too!
You can follow us on Instagram @botanicalife.ca.
Want to be featured in our Alumni Series? Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the Subject: Alumni Series!