Herbal Medicine

Today is the first day of the rest of my life! Well I guess every day is the first day of the rest of our lives, but this one feels different. On my birthday my mum always asks me, “So do you feel any older?” I never really do! But today I do feel different. It’s not my birthday. I am 27 years and 342 days old! But today I feel different. I’m no longer Siobhán who works in an office and studies Herbology on the weekends. Today for the first time I feel like Siobhán the Herbalist… Siobhán, the Nerdy Naturopath! I haven’t graduated yet, it’s not that kind of milestone. But I have quit my job and travelled half way across the world to spend my summer doing a herbaculture internship with Herb Pharm in Williams, Oregon. And I am soooo excited! This isn’t the first step on my holistic path, nor is it the last. There’s no destination I plan to arrive at after three months, no particular end goal in sight. This is more like a fork in the road, a bend in the river shall we say! Before accepting the internship I wondered, like Pocahontas, “should I take the smoother course? Steady as the beating drum?” Should I keep my stable, well-paid and completely awesome job at Airbnb? Or should I quit everything to basically become a farmer? In my early days of fangirling, I was obsessed with Pocahontas. I was seven when the Disney movie came out in theatres. I went to see a special preview in London with my best friend and our mums. I begged my mum for a full costume of Pocahontas. I wanted to be her! And then, when I was a teenager, I dyed my hair so black that it was kind of blue, just like Pocahontas! What I love so much about her is that she follows her heart. Against all odds! She’s an adventurer and a romantic, and isn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd, to be different. Our nature loving Native American princess also sings, “what I love most about rivers is, you can’t step in the same river twice. The water’s always changing always flowing.” She’s so wise, our Pocahontas! (I also think she may have been studying Greek philosophy…) But then she goes on to say “people I guess can’t live like that, we all must pay a price. To be safe, we lose our

I’ve only been here a week but this whole experience is already a complete dream come true for me! Here’s ten (of the very many) reasons why: 1. In our first class, a herb walk, our teacher Mark asked us, “so who here believes in fairies?” The answer was a resounding yes! “Do you?” we asked. “Of course! I wouldn’t ask that question if I didn’t.”   2. In just one week we got to harvest calendula, wood betony, lemon balm, meadowsweet, red clover, chickweed, grindelias and California poppy. We harvested a record breaking 1000lb of California poppies in one day! Harvested, washed and placed on the drying racks!   3. We have our own personal herbal dispensary in the kitchen!   4. On Saturday we foraged for nettles, amaranth, purslane, lamb’s quarters and sexy succulent raspberries from around the house and the farm for brunch the next day! 5. This evening I was out in the medicine shed making St. John’s Wort oil and tincture and when I came back in to the house there was a full on dance party going on in the kitchen! 6. Oh yes! We have a medicine shed! It is completely stocked with jars, drying racks, alcohol, weighing scales, beeswax and oils, everything you could want for making herbal medicines!! 7. Regular dinner conversation includes things like: “Are you more witch or fairy?” “I think I’m more fairy…” “Oh girl, I’m completely witch!” “Can I be both? I’m maybe 60% witch, 40% fairy”. 8. Our communal list of shopping staples includes things like apple cider vinegar, quinoa, coconut oil, chia seeds, raw cacao, watermelon and aaaalll the greens!! 9. This is our house: And our garden: (can you spot the deer?) And our library!!! 10. The farm and the woods and the kitchen are our classroom. We learn so much while at work Monday to Thursday but we also have official classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and all day Friday and Saturday. We walked around the woods while we learnt about botany, we heard stories about plantain and dandelion and yellow dock while we strolled around the fields and we made hydrosols, infusions and decoctions together in the kitchen. And this was just week one! I’m so excited for what the rest of this programme will bring! And I can’t wait for work in the morning! I’m impatiently anticipating what we’ll harvest, what we’ll learn, what the plants will share and reveal to us. And I’m so grateful and so happy that I get to experience it