Kava, Wood Betony (of the pedicularis variety), and Boswellia…
… my cocktail this week, and I’m over-the-moon-excited to be able to tell you about it!
I can feel consternation radiating from those of you who know herbs. People usually aren’t joyful when they’re dosing this sort of combo every three hours. And truthfully? It’s been a rough week. I took my back out last weekend doing something so mundane there’s not even the hint of a story (or blog post) in it.
What has me tickled is not spending the week unable to sit down (by the way—standing all day? Exhausting.). My happy comes from actually naming herbs right here on my blog without fear.
It’s the without fear part that’s important. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know I mention herbs.
What you don’t know is the amount of care that goes in into each mention.
Because as someone who owns an herb store, I am barred from making claims about herbal products. Since I’ve spent the past two decades of my life studying plant medicine, this has been immensely frustrating. I’ve felt like the government shoved a ball-gag in my mouth and all I could do was drool around it.
Then, two weeks ago, I learned I’d been gagging myself.
I was hanging out with my friend Jovial King, who owns Herban Moonshine, telling her about my pending sale of Sage School and bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t talk about herbs in public forums (which has made it uber-hard to enroll people in online herb courses). Jovial has had to get very familiar with the rules and regs of our business and is the only person I know who has a lawyer on hand who’s an F.D.A. specialist.
I wish I could describe Jovial’s face as she listened to my rant… Suffice it to say the woman’s got serious warrior energy and I wasn’t sure whether it was me or the F.D.A. who was gonna get a whooping.
When I finally finished talking, Jovial jumped in. “Maia,” she said, “that’s the most conservative interpretation of the rules I’ve ever heard. You’re an herbal educator. You can talk about herbs. You just can’t talk about products.”
I made her go over it in detail: I can tell you I use elderberry if I even feel a hint of the flu coming on* but I can’t name a commercial product for you to purchase ( * and I have to tell you that this information is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.). And BTW, you don’t need a commercial product; I made a video so you can make your own delicious elderberry syrup. It even has cute music in the background!
Out of the blue, I was questioning the past five years of my life and acknowledging the growing numb spot in my soul where the plant medicine lived, choked off like a foot that had fallen asleep.
Suddenly blood was rushing back in… and it hurt.
I’ve contorted myself to be compliant. I stopped talking about herbs on social media and here on my own website. Yup, there were people in my life who told me to stop being so rule-bound, but I couldn’t justify stepping outside the lines when a dozen employees count on us for their livelihood and a giant fine would jeopardize our business.
Not talking about herbs had left a vacuum I had to figure out how to fill. So I mined my daily life for rituals and habits, so many of which were not part of my upbringing but were instead part of my training. My herbal training.
Learning to live in-sync with the cycles of the seasons, following the moon, trusting my intuition… this was all a part of re-aligning with the natural world. Stone circles and ley lines, alchemy and divination, these were the weft of my studies in Ireland.
And so I began to see herbal medicine as a particular form of expressing these broader concepts.
I created Witch Camp to share not the herbs in particular but the larger concepts of Earth Medicine with other women.
And it felt really good.
Then two weeks ago it all came into question. Had I created a second-tier career because I didn’t think I was able to do my life’s work?
The Sage School deal was sitting on my desk, waiting to be typed and sent to my lawyer.
Coyote—the eternal trickster—had ripped off his mask (and my gag) and was panting before me, a grin on his doggy face, asking what do you want to do? If there are no rules to hold you back, what life do you choose?
It didn’t take me long to realize I love this twisty-turny life I’ve created. But then I’ve always been a fan of trees sideways-blown by the wind or weirdly winding around a boulder or building.
But I’m also so relieved to be able to share the particulars of my training and my life with you.
So… for muscle spasm, I use Kava, Wood Betony, and Boswellia.
Meanwhile the Sage School contract is being finished by the lawyer and I hope to have it signed by the end of the month.
Because life is about becoming. It’s a constant process of pressure and change which allows us to grow into who we are meant to be.
Me? I’ve always been a big-picture kinda gal; Witch Camp lets me be that person.
You? Have you ever had your life changed by tricksy coyote medicine? Or do you have a story about navigating the recent rules and regs of the herb world? Share with me in the comments below!