what I love about herbalism

When I was making the decision to go to herb school I felt strongly that it was an opportunity not to be taken lightly. If I were to be one of the lucky few to receive the honor of studying with Michael Moore, then I had be sure that this was a path I could commit to for life. If I packed up and headed to Bisbee, then I was choosing to marry herbalism and there was no turning back. Fortunately, the more I debated the decision with myself, the more I realized it answered every concern I had for my future. Since then, my list of reasons that I love herbalism has only grown.

1. It’s a field where people are more valued as they age. It’s an excellent career for someone who values wisdom over youth.

2. It’s ancient and universal. It makes me feel connected to people throughout time and space.

3. It enhances my connection to the natural world, profoundly.

4. It provides so much aesthetic pleasure! Herbs enhance my sensory experience of the world, they are geniuses of fragrance and texture and taste.

5. It provides a context for my entire lifestyle and even my spiritual life. There is a unity to all of the many aspects of my life, one that I craved until I found it. Gardening, hiking, researching, tinkering in the kitchen, anointing myself with scented oils: all parts of my job.

6. I get to help people as an inherent part of my work. It satisfies my ethical and moral senses. It’s a right livelihood.

7. Some of the most awesome people I’ve ever met are my colleagues. Really, herbalists are the coolest, warmest, best-dressed, funniest, smartest people I know. And the best cooks, too.

8. Every time I feel sick, it’s a new opportunity to deepen my craft. What a wonderful alchemy, to transform a “sick day” into a day of the work I love and self-obsession into research.

9. Everybody I meet can teach me more about herbalism, and often offer anecdotes before I even ask. It gives me a point of connection with strangers, opening them up to sharing their most intimate stories with me.

10. I get to do magic AND science all the time, two of my favorite things! And I think they are each better together.

11. Steady jobs in herbalism are rare. It almost demands that one have many small jobs, which was always my ideal. Yet, each of the small jobs is interwoven into a larger, mutually-reinforcing whole.

12. It has post-apocalyptic applicability. Changes in availability of technology do not alter my life’s work in any substantive way.

13. It makes me a more useful person.

14. It makes me a healthier person.

15. It increases my independence and gives me the tools to empower others as well.

16. It’s inherently radically political, satisfying my need to help with the changing of the world.

17. It deepens and gives relevance to my understanding of the nature of things.

18. There is always more to learn. I am driven, more than anything, by curiosity and the joy of pondering. It is an infinite playground for the mind.

19. My know-it-all streak used to feel like an annoying personality quirk, but now it has a proper, useful home. Herbalism is a great place for natural-born teachers and information collectors.

20. It keeps me grounded in material reality. Herbs act a sort of physical touchstone between the realms, always bringing it back to this delightful embodiment we are so fortunate to experience.

21. Flowers!

22. Little bottles and cool old jars. Antique scales and apothecary furniture. Dusty old boxes, harvesting baskets and bundles of dried herbs hung from rafters.

23. People think it’s cool.

24. It’s an art, giving me an outlet for creative expression – formulas, labels, the perfect metaphor to express a concept, sending out into the ideosphere, stitching culture together.

25. In herbalism I have found meaning, identity and a sense of purpose in my life, and that has brought me contentment.


  1. Absolutely! The celestial, cerebral, and terrestrial are all embodied in this work.

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