My favorite lesson learned through my time with the Holistic Living School is that this education isn’t just about learning which herbs to use for what, or how to make a tincture or tea, or how to build an herbal business. It’s also about learning about and celebrating your lineage and the people who came before you. It’s about connecting to your ancestors, remembering a practice that’s been forgotten, and becoming more yourself in the process.
Journey into herbalism
I started learning about herbs as a way to support the people I was serving in my doula practice. I’ve been a doula for five years and I saw that my clients wanted products, pregnancy teas, and salves, etc, and I wanted to meet that need. I took the Roots of Herbalism and then the Family Herbalist course and it was in that course that I began to feel like this education was going to be less about my clients and more about me.
During the time I was taking the Family Herbalism class, my grandmother was showing signs of dementia and I was trying to spend more and more time with her before her mind really started to fade. It was in one of those visits that she shared with me that her grandmother was an herbalist and wise woman in their village in the Dominican Republic. As someone born in the Caribbean, but raised in the United States in a very American way, I have felt disconnected from my lineage literally and figuratively. Learning that my bisbisabuela, great great grandmother, was an herbalist in their community sparked a drive in me to revitalize the herbal tradition that I have within me.
I graduated from the Community Herbalist program in May and this herbal education is just starting. It’s just the beginning of my remembering a tradition and practice that, like many traditions when you’re an immigrant raised in America, was forgotten. Forgotten but not lost.
The experience at the school
Choosing to enroll at The Florida School of Holistic Living for my herbal training was an integral part of the growth I’ve experienced in the last three years. The herbal lineage of the school and it’s staff, administrators, and educators is rich and brings you into a beautiful family of herbalists and healers. The teachers at FSHL want you to succeed and are in full support of you and your journey. Your classmates walk this journey with you and you are able to learn from them as well. All of those things come together to create a unique experience I don’t know I would have found in another program. I am so grateful for my journey with FSHL.
A unique expression of herbalism
I remember thinking that I wouldn’t be a good herbalist because I don’t have a garden (I live in a condo) and have no experience growing things. I was in class with farmers and homesteaders and master gardeners and I didn’t know how I was gonna “legitimize” my herbalism. Imposter Syndrome hit me hard. What I learned is that there is no illegitimate way to practice herbalism. I have a large apothecary of dried herbs that I purchased already dried. Every once in a while one of my beautiful friends or teachers will gift me some herbs I can dry myself and that is a really special occurrence, but it doesn’t mean my already dried herbs aren’t a perfectly valid option.
Once I get over my ego and imposter syndrome, I love using herbs in long infusions, especially while I’m menstruating. My favorite mix currently is Red Clover and Linden long infusions. They are really comforting. I also make a lot of bath teas so that I can feel held by the herbs in a very literal way.
I also use herbs with my clients. Making teas or baths with gentle herbs is a really lovely way of caring for the pregnant and newly postpartum body.
Goals moving forward with the knowledge
Maggie shared with me once that when she used to train for marathons, part of training for the current marathon is picking the next marathon you’re gonna run. So, my plan to use my herbalism is to build on it through the Sexual and Reproductive Health educator program through The Well. My deepest desire is to support people with uteruses/uteri to understand their bodies — how they work and how to care for them — to the fullest. I was to help people become the final authority of their body and their care. Adding this training will allow me to do that. Is it another very intense program? Yes. It will be an investment of two years of my life, AND it’s an investment into my life and my community.
Also worth mentioning
I’m a cisgender, bisexual, fat, Latina. I’m an advocate for body neutrality and bodily autonomy. Your body is a good body. Be kind to it, and be kind to yourself.
Grace to you, Tamara
• @thekindredfeminine on social media
• My website is www.thekindredfeminine.com