06 September 2019
Healing Yourself With Herbs
by Karen Rose
Excerpted from "Learning How to Heal Yourself with Herbs" lecture by Karen Rose
On herbalism and ancestral plant medicine
Healing the spiritual and physical dimension has always been connected for me. There is no separation between the emotional well-being, the spiritual well-being and the physical well-being. They are all deeply connected. I feel very fortunate to be raised in that legacy. I honor my ancestors each day for all the teachings they brought forward in me today to be able to stand in my power.
It seems so difficult to create medicines for yourself, but the first time you create medicines for yourself, you will say “I can’t believe that was it!" It is so easy to create medicine for yourself, to take plants as medicine for yourself!
Plants talk to us, they tell us who they are and they tell us how they should be used.
On historical trauma
Our ancestors' DNA are programmed so we can also manage or cope with the things they have already experienced. What that means for me as a Black woman is that my ancestors left me memory in my DNA regarding their traumas that they experienced so I would find a way to easier cope with that trauma.
If my ancestors left me messages how do I remember them? How do I begin to remember the stories they have left that are encoded in my DNA? I believe plant medicine is the link in our memory that connects us to the messages that our ancestors left for us!
On finding the weeds in the city
Coming to the city, I had to rediscover where plant medicine exists. Urban Herbalism has a very different approach and a very different view. A lot of plant medicine exists in city parks . . .
Plant medicine is even in our sidewalks! On my walk to the train, I identify at least 10 plants each day . . . dandelion, mugwort, plantain, burdock, sometimes yellow dock, motherwort . . . a lot of the plants we use are "weeds."
I am a believer that plants grow where we need them. The plants that grow in our hemisphere are the plants we should be using to heal ourselves . . . Our bodies are acclimated to where we are . . . We need the herbs that live with us . . . in NYC we need lots of liver cleaning and lots of sleep because those are the herbs that are most prolific in our parks and in our sidewalks!
When a plant shows up in abundance in your yard, that is exactly the plant you need—it is quite magical –rather than going for the most exotic plant, look for the weeds around you and use that for healing!
On the community nature of healing
There is no healing without community because community is integral to how we heal.
Trauma is increased for a family who does not have assistance from their community No one is sick on their own. Our sickness as absolutely deeply connected to our resources.
As Black women, if we don’t have access to medicine as other folks do, of course, we’re ill, of course our our illness is different and of course the way we heal is completely different. Taking this into consideration is a huge part of my practice.
Indigenous [traditions] believe that when someone is ill, it is an indication of what is going on in the community.
What does it mean to be well? It is different for everyone and it’s certainly connected to our culture. What it means to be well for you and well for me may be totally different things because of my ancestry, my generation and other things that are occurring in my environment.
Asking for help is really hard . . . when you live in community, folks already begin to see that you need help and they reach out to you also. Living in isolation, we cannot get that.
Plants grow in community! Anytime you look at a plant, you will see other plants around it. If a plant is thriving, other plants around it are also thriving . . . I have learned a lot about community by just watching the plants!