I had never looked at the Martin’s bulletin board until recently when I found a flier for Matthew Wood‘s Healing Herbal Seminar at Wholistic Wisdom in Harrisonburg. I was thrilled to find such an offering so close to home, with Matthew Wood no less, and top it all off with having found it in such an unexpected way. I have some of his books and think he’s brilliant; in addition to being knowledgeable, he seems to me to have an easy access beyond the outermost layers. He spoke of plant signatures, which I suppose is akin to symbolism and I find myself thinking metaphorically again.

Friday night focused on Lyme Disease and ways to deal with symptoms as well as rid the body of it. Our coteacher*, Saundra, led the discussion and a ceremony on Saturday morning that I missed as we were opening the Farmers Market in New Market. I was sorry to miss the ceremony…it may have been one of gratitude, or perhaps that’s just where I was for spending a weekend with this group of people. Saturday afternoon is a bit of a blur, there was quite a lot of discussion and a lot of note scribbling on my part. I am impressed by the breadth and depth of knowledge that both Matt and Saundra possess, and their recall is remarkable as well.

Sunday included some discussion and an herb walk. We ventured off to the JMU Arboretum which has a lot of woodland area and some sun gardens along a steep terraced hillside. I was under the impression that we needed some buckets and a shovel to gather up some plants that would be removed from the gardens and trashed. You can probably imagine how out of place I looked walking through a lovely arboretum with a shovel, as if I were there to rip contented plants from their homes. I received a few sideways glances from other visitors to the grounds, and don’t know how I was received by my group. If they noticed, perhaps they decided on the same response I chose…sometimes all you can do is have a laugh at yourself and carry on. While there I had the pleasant surprise of running into Suzanne of The Center, seeing Lungwort and Wild Ginger for the first time and spending a lot of time with Violet, a plant we have much of at home. By the end of the day I was simultaneously full and spent that it was a welcome change of pace to go home and collect our daughter for clothes shopping. Clothes shopping, I say. Really, that seminar must have been good medicine.

Plant identification comes slow for me. In fact, I will sometimes plant things from seed from trusted providers just to see the plant in various stages and be sure I’m not confusing it with another. It’s a little more focused and less overwhelming. I’m sure I don’t recall everything we saw on Sunday, but some doors opened for me, or maybe I’m a little more open. When Stuart and I were outside deciding what to do with some of our yard after removing the rotted Oak, I found Cleavers! Right there in front of me, of course. I’ve seen it before, but now I know it (and understand the name). I brought some inside and have it in a jar of brandy. I also left the weekend with some Teasel tincture from Avalon Herbals.

It was a good weekend. I met two amazing teachers and will hopefully cross paths with them again. I have some good medicine and am making more. I met some neat people and continue to feel part of a wider community. And, finally, am inspired once again to study herbs and humans. We’ve been so busy with farm goings on and I continue with design work to help support the farm that it’s been easy to let everything else fall by the wayside. I think the tide is turning.





*I’m sorry, I don’t have Saundra’s last name or affiliation.