Let’s begin at the beginning, when I was a small girl who loved to read and loved to cook. Some of my most favorite stories were set against the backdrop of a forest, a tundra, a mountain, or prairie. The land was just as much a character as the rough-and-tumble protagonists who survived them. These characters relied on their cleverness to be sure, but it was only when they stopped to listen to the land and learn her rhythms that their knowledge of the land grew and their survival more certain.
In their resourcefulness and skill they became true craftsman- a beautiful, quaint novelty. That is what a true homesteader must become if they are to live successfully. These stories tugged at something much deeper than mere appreciation, though, nourishing that critical part of me that is driven to create, curate and craft, that thoroughly enjoys the meditation of ordinary arts.
In equal measure, I can also point to cooking as being a favorite pastime from an early age. My family would be out running errands or some such thing, and I’d get out the pots and pans. I’d pretend I was hosting some cooking show, British accent and all. It was tremendously fun (and still is) but it’s given me a fair amount of confidence moving around a kitchen and in developing my own recipes. Perhaps most important, though, is how much it cemented my understanding that we ought to let “food be thy medicine” and that our connection to our food and our food sources is of more importance to our well being and health than any reductionist nutritionism one might apply.
I can trace my passion for alternative health care and plants as medicine all the way back to these early influences, though my direct study of it came later. It started with books on birthing, on a large variety of approaches to diet and food, on pharmaceuticals and our healthcare system. These slowly worked to dismantle my understanding of modern healthcare. It moved me. I was angry. I was hurt. I wanted *more* from our healthcare system! But then, I got over being angry, and it evolved and matured, and instead, I felt called to lend my talents towards shaping a new vision for our broken system.
In Ayurveda, there is a beautiful word, svasta, that is used for health. It translates to something akin to, “being established in oneself”. But what’s more, this word svasta is also used in Ayurveda’s sister science Jyotisa (Vedic astrology). In Jyotisa, it refers to a planet that is placed in its own sign in a chart. For example, Venus rules Libra and Taurus. If Venus is placed in Libra or Taurus in a chart, one could say it is svasta.
My teacher, Penny Farrow describes a svasta planet as having a sort of dignity, as “It’s like it is living in it’s own house.” It’s not living in the house of an enemy. It’s not living in a rental with a crummy landlord. It is in its own house, and because of that it has a dignity and a stronger influence.
I love, love this analogy, especially when we consider svasta as also referring to our health, because health is absolutely about feeling at home. It is so much more than an absence of disease and being symptom free. Health is a well-being and a comfort in our own skin, a being at home in our hearts. Health is nothing short of spiritual.
It wasn’t until my move to Santa Fe, New Mexico, though, that I completely lost myself in the plant and herb realm. By then, my love for nature’s medicine was strong, but it was the magic years I spent in the southwest desert – those folky herb shops, those majestic hikes, the piles of herbals and plant guides I devoured – that pulled together the multitudes of myself in such a delightful way.
Wild Taproot is born of these passions.