This article is a reflection from our Founder, Pam Fischer.
Every herbalist is called to the forest—that sacred temple of the woods where the pace of life slows, the breeze touching our skin keeps us in the present moment, and the only thing buzzing are the bees in their ceremonious dance.
Here, we are in our full power, with immediate access to the mindful plant spirits and instinctual animal essences.
This is why so many herb schools are located in the woods. In these temples we find teachers who have created these sanctuaries from the very depth of their hearts. They magnify their love for plants and animals by creating a haven in which to learn. The human spirit loves to frolic here—swaying to the rhythm of the planet, soaking in dappled sun and herbal knowledge.
While this vision is incredibly relaxing, it isn’t the only way an herbalist can serve our planet. The forest is a sanctuary, yes, but the teachings from the Earth are most valuable when they are not so easily accessible—in the urban environment.
The Urban Herbalist Difference
The vibrational quality of the city is maniac. We’re inundated with constant distractions—noise, lights, and sensory stimulation. We rise to move with the fast paced world around us. The hum of an urban center holds a different experience than the sanctimonious whispers of tree speak in the forest.
The urban herbalist must carry the wild within. The city atmosphere requires us to perceive and respond to things quickly with both compassion and urgency while staying grounded and centered. Channeling the speed of a raging river and the calm of mountain fog simultaneously is no easy task in the midst of so much noise.
This difference in environment necessarily brings a different flavor to the urban herbal school—it’s edgier, geared towards the question, “how can I serve?” We carry the plant energies from wild areas back to the place of the greatest suffering and pain. We find the pockets of urban life filled with sun-starvation and dirty air. The centers of dis-ease have no tree sanctum, there is no parlay with the birds, or run in with a sassy wild thistle.
In these centers we bring the wild; to teach the herbs yes, but also to hold, protect, and feed ourselves. We share the wisdom we bring from our journeys with the plant spirit, melding the knowledge of the greatest teacher, Earth, with our urban world. You see, the urban herb school is also a creation from the hearts of the teachers—their warrior’s heart.
The dedication of heart makes even the most lackadaisical urban herbalists edgy and forthright. Their teachings reflect the world in which they walk—one with pavement and honking horns. And why do they keep walking this path? Because they know that even the busiest city sidewalk has footholds for the lone dandelion in the cracks of the cement. They know that this is where their services are needed.
Mother Theresa’s work to relieve pain and suffering called her to the most impoverished areas of India. Still today many carry on her inspired work, a nameless army doing amazing things to transform the state of the world we live in.
The urban herbalists are doing no less in the trenches of the inner city. We are a hand in times of cultural mental illness that provide type of sanity and offer a direction towards a healing path. It is not our task to care for those around us, this creates dependence on a single person for offering heath. Rather, we are here to enable all to care for themselves physically, mentally and spiritually. We act as a conduit for the healing wild, creating independence in the health of our communities.
We are herbalists, yes, but among us you will also find that we act as counselors, social workers, botanists, chemists and visionaries for the communities we serve. Our eyes see the true state of what the hands of the urban life has dealt to our communities, and our hearts burn to help bring healing to every corner of the urban centers. We often feel inadequate, that we are but one piece of this world, but we are called forth into this role. The role that the world needs.
Are you an urban herbalist in your heart? Learn how you can join our ranks on our certifications page.