Herbalism and The Great Forgetting

by Matilde Magro

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Ever think that you might have a cat’s superpower knowing just the right herbs to take for your particular body/ailment/prevention? I’m here to tell you, that you actually not only do, but you also do it unconsciously.

Ever craved pumpkin? Carrot? Tomato? Ever followed on that craving?

I have a lot of anecdotes about how plants choose us, or how we subconsciously know what we need. I’m highly sensitive and have had difficulty regulating my nervous system, and last year I wasn’t feeling well at all, in fact, I hardly slept, was anxious, taking medication, and headed for a breakdown. I bought a few pharmacy-based extracts that seemed good — not knowing what they did or why, really I just wanted to add them to my apothecary. Later on, investigating, it was exactly the combination I needed for my particular problem at the time. In another story, two years ago, my mom bought a plant she didn’t like (Colleus) and I asked her why she got it, she said she didn’t know why she felt the urge to bring it home. I went on investigating and figured out it was exactly what my mom needed for her particular health condition. I have more of these anecdotes. I feel my garden is my medicine wheel, and it kind of just happened.

So, the Great Forgetting is a term coined by the Social Scientist Daniel Quinn in his work and talked about extensively in certain circles of healing Climate Change circles. It talks about how, in “advancing” endlessly and with no real agenda for our perceived “evolution” from our ancestries, we forgot the basics of our shared and individual humanity. It’s a beautiful concept.

In the Spiritual Ecology series that I teach, I have a “remembrance” segment that mentions a lot of what is at the root of this forgetting. From how to deal with change, how our bodies know best, how we must rely on connecting with ourselves, the sacredness of being alive, of being a walking temple, etc. And I did add a bit of herbalism to it, despite not having the time to really talk about it extensively.

A lot of misconceptions about herbalism, the biggest being that not everyone can do it, that it’s difficult and that plants can kill you. Those pesky plants! Ok, common sense does apply, if you need penicillin you’re not going to eat mold!

The fact is, is in our inner knowing. Everyone already does it, just by consuming healthy foods, and certain plants can kill you — so we need knowledge, to remember. It’s so cool to teach someone their first steps on herbalism because we really see the glowing in their eyes for being so in alignment with themselves that they could melt in joy.

How did we forget? Through specialization, through using different methods, through not caring to know. How can we remember? Through connecting with plants and herbs again, through understanding that our humanity didn’t begin in primitivism, it kind of was always that way, except for the last half a millisecond. Millions of years of knowing how to live here, and in the last 2000 we underwent a major memory lapse.

History mythology is one emerging scientific field, believe me, if it hasn’t started as a field yet, it certainly has a lot of dedicated professionals on it.

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