Exploratory Herbalism: A Journey of Sensory Awakening and Profound Plant Connection

Exploratory Herbalism: A Journey of Sensory Awakening and Profound Plant Connection

In the bustling world we inhabit, there exists a hidden realm, veiled amidst the undergrowth, waiting to be unveiled. I want to invite you to ‘Exploratory herbalism’, a practice which extends an enchanting wave, luring us away from the chaotic currents of modern life to immerse ourselves in the realm of herbs, plants and fungi. Many are seeking, there is a movement listening to the longing which has endured, one which asks to have dirt under their nails and here the senses are reawakened, and the spirit finds solace in the embrace of nature's healing wisdom.

This is in many ways the roots of herbalism - forming the connection and the bond


Deep within the core of our being resides an age-old connection to the natural world—an invisible thread that weaves us into the intricate web of life. The call of nature resonates with a subtle urgency, beckoning us to embrace the wisdom inherent in plants and fungi and their potent medicinal properties. Fiona Heckels, in her mesmerising work, "The Sensory Herbal Handbook," urges us to heed this primordial call, for the world of plants holds a treasure trove of secrets waiting to be discovered.

These truths are carries as whispers on the wind but more often than not ( as with all of these sensory attunements ) requires a dropping, and so listen, that is all.

The world we live in is mostly a productive and creation orientated one, where achievements, goals and claiming is where we source value and find placement for our beings to reside. Whilst these energies are beautiful and truly do serve their purposes, the act of just sitting, and just listening is one which can be humbling and so deeply connective. The breeze, the bird friends in the trees, a crack of a branch, perhaps a neighbour, a rustling somewhere close and perhaps even more subtle - the beat of your heart, an insect scurrying along - absorbing the now-ness and the part- of-it-ness which your simple existence allows, unconditionally.


The Magic of Growing Your Herbal Garden

Envision a small corner of your home transformed into a sanctuary of herbal wonders, a space where, amidst the gentle hum of a visiting bee and the dappled sunlight filtering through the leaves, a symphony of colours, fragrances, and textures unfolds before you. From the tiniest of seeds to the triumphant unfurling of leaves, you bear witness to the miraculous journey of growth and life.

In the act of growing ourselves we return into a growth state too - as we nurture these fragile and tender shoots, we too, grow in patience, dedication, and harmonious surrender to the rhythm of life. With each interaction, the garden becomes a mirror, reflecting our own growth and transformation, nurturing not just our plants but also our souls.

There are numerous ways to start irrespective of the space you inhabit or call home - whether you are on a farm or in an apartment, can create a medicinal bed or just have a few pots of chamomile on the windowsill - taking the time to connect with these medicines which will in turn nourish and care for you is an incredible means though which to feel the reciprocity of this life.

Having some dirt under your nails, feeling the power and the potential for growth is always an opportunity for learning - researching or talking to local gardeners or becoming involved in community garden projects, connecting the roots from which you may discover the medicines and foods you can grow in your area, maybe some you have never heard of before, in that way becoming better acquainted and potentially finding a new ally for your wellbeing in the process.

The Dance of Foraging

Venturing into the heart of Mother Earth we encounter a delicate dance between the forager and the wild. Incredible Author Belle Benfield's wisdom shares how our senses can become attuned to the subtlest nuances of the landscape - every step becomes intentional, mindful of the sacred communion between ourselves and the earth. In this harmonious exchange, we learn to listen to the language of leaves and flowers, as the plants themselves become our teachers. Each herb reveals its healing secrets to those who approach with reverence and respect, and the forager's heart becomes attuned to the rhythms of nature. In this sacred dance of foraging, we discover that it is not merely an act of seeking the medicine or food - it is a journey of discovery that opens our hearts to the ancient wisdom held within every blade of grass.


Imagine yourself amidst a fragrant herb garden or perhaps amidst the untamed embrace of a meadow - smell is an enchanting sense which can envelops all the parts of our being - holding significant space within our memory, affecting our nervous system and creating a sense of ease or invigoration.

As you breathe in the sweet and soothing aroma of lavender, the invigorating essence of rosemary, or the calming fragrance of chamomile, you find yourself swept away in the medicine and the truly holistic and multifaceted nature of healing. Taking time to land into the sense of smell, allowing for the dryness of the veld grass or the dampness of the moss to formulate communications and understandings around the placement, the environment and your being in it



Elevating herbalism to a culinary art, we can infuse our meals with the essence of the plant kingdom, allowing for each bite or sip to share the medicine and its complexities in all the ways they can support our healing. Karen Lawton's words echo in our hearts as we create gastronomic masterpieces, honouring the intricate relationship between humans and the plants that sustain us.

Our plates become a canvas of colours and textures, a celebration of the abundance provided by nature's pantry. In this act of mindful consumption, we deepen our connection to the wisdom of the plants, and with each mouthful, we imbibe the energy and vitality they offer. With each dish prepared, we pay homage to the life-giving force of the earth - be it incorporating chamomile into your cakes or nettle in your soups, the medicines always hold opportunity for inclusion and creation.


Beyond the sensory delights, the true essence of herbalism lies in the potent healing properties of herbs. Like ancient alchemists, we have the opportunity learn to harness nature's gifts to restore balance and harmony within ourselves. The herbal kingdom offers a vast repertoire of remedies, each one tailored to address our unique needs and imbalances.


Exploratory herbalism also offers a transformative journey that transcends the material world.

As we delve into the teachings and the observations we discover the sacred art of inviting the spirits of the plants to share their timeless wisdom. We learn to approach the plants with humility and reverence, acknowledging their intrinsic intelligence and their place as guardians of the earth's secrets. In this sacred dance of connection, we find our souls interwoven with the vast web of existence, and a profound sense of belonging and purpose emerges. Here, amidst the green tapestry of creation, we find a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place within the grand tapestry of life.

I have had the honour of receiving teachings of Jacqui Wilkins in her "Working With Plant Medicines," and I feel inspired here to share what I feel is the essence of respectful herbalism and the significance of recognising the intrinsic value of the plants that nurture us. In this sacred relationship, reciprocity becomes the cornerstone, as we offer our gratitude and acknowledgment, recognising that the plants are not mere resources but partners in our journey. We learn that herbalism is not a mere transactional exchange of resources; rather, it is an intimate partnership with the living beings that share our planet. As we embrace this sacred connection, we become stewards of the earth, fostering harmony between humankind and the natural world.

The art of growing, foraging, finding, smelling, tasting, and using the senses to connect with herbal medicines can become a transformative experience of the heart and soul. With humility and wonder, may we immerse ourselves in the profound teachings of the natural world around us - allowing their wisdom to guide us towards a deeper understanding.

May we heed the call of nature, immerse ourselves in the realm of herbalism ; may our senses be awakened, our hearts be humbled, and our spirits be uplifted as we dance hand-in-hand with the wisdom of the earth and the healing embrace of herbal medicines. As we cultivate this sacred connection, may it permeate every aspect of our lives, nurturing not only our bodies but our souls and fostering harmony between humankind and the natural world. Through exploratory herbalism, we embrace the profound teachings of the earth and become guardians of its precious wisdom for generations to come.


. . . 
. . .