Crafting our own well-being is a part of our heritage, whether we realize it or not.

Echinacea in a basket

Photo © Winnie Au, excerpted from Herbal Goddess

I grew up in a household that was open to natural health, but not one in which herbs had a daily presence. Nonetheless, even as a young child, I was fascinated by plants and plant medicine. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but I would spend hours in the woods behind my house, foraging for dandelions and anything else I could identify, replanting them in little pots, tending to them, and pretending to make lotions and medicines out of them.

Over the years, I kept that fascination, but there was no community for such an interest. At least, I hadn’t found it yet. When my then-boyfriend (now husband) and I moved to Los Angeles in 2001, we both found that community — one in which we felt at home — among the teachers, the guides, the healers, and the wise men and women we had no idea we’d been searching for.

Culturally, for decades, Americans have relied on, and taken comfort in, a system that purports to take care of us. From cleaning products to food preparation to a pill or a shot for every discomfort, our self-care has been handled by this machine. But in recent years many of us have felt an itch to wake up, to strike out on our own, to take back our independence, and to take our health back into our own power.

At one time, most people just knew, either through intuition or observation, what effect a particular plant would have when used to treat a particular ailment. But now? That information has trickled to a slow flow, despite the fact that we’re still surrounded by everything we could possibly need to create good health for ourselves. Herbs have long been a part of our history, from healthcare to spirituality, their healing properties intricately woven into our traditions — and abandoned only in our very recent past. How do we rediscover this traditional knowledge of self-care? Community is at the heart of that awakening.

The energy that comes from the act of rediscovery motivates new seekers searching for answers and drives people toward one another. In our quest we’re coming full circle, embracing old ways and creating new communities of inspired teachers and learners. We’re finding the momentum to create our own traditions, discovering along the way (completely to our surprise, perhaps) that we’ve been instinctively reaching for traditions that existed among healers long before us. We’re tapping into the craft of wellness, which is our heritage, whether we realize it or not. We’re taking our health back one leaf, one flower, one seed, one fruit at a time.

Herbal Goddess Cover

Amy Jirsa

Amy Jirsa is the author of Herbal Goddess and a master herbalist and yoga instructor. She writes regularly for a variety of natural living publications,… See Bio

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