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Reborn in the Cauldron of Change

While my sister remembers our childhood through the lens of human relationships, who belonged to who and what each human did and said, I remember our childhood through the lens of plants. What flowers were blooming at the time, how the sun came through the maple, climbing the mimosa tree. I have been attuned to plants and the natural world for as long as I can remember.

I have also wanted to be a helper for as long as I can remember. I would call out to the trees as a very young child, asking them to guide me to wounded birds or kittens or bunnies. Anything that suffers, guide me there, let me help.

This calling manifested in my first job at the age of 14, as a veterinary technician assistant. I went on to pre-med studies in college, and then became a Registered Nurse. While working as a hospice nurse, I discovered spiritual direction, deepened my energy work practice, and found the deeper and more mysterious streams of helping and healing with the guidance and support of the dying and those who loved them.

My work shifted from the dying, to those who could not get well but weren't dying. The chronically ill. The under-resourced. Those who suffered long without the comfort of hospice, without being terminally ill. The long enduring and terribly ill. I learned about despair, about trauma, about nervous systems that had been attuned to pain and abuse and did not have the hope of change. I started to drift into despair myself. I couldn't help them, couldn't reach them in any meaningful way. It was obvious that the environment around them, and within them, kept them from finding the foothold that would allow recovery to take root.

While filled with despair, I fell into the arms of the plants. The only comfort I could find was sitting amid the green, by the running water of a stream, on plant walks, reading about folk stories of the plants. I started to intently study plant medicine as a road back to hope, resilience, wholeness. It was also guiding me to rewire my brain for a new experience of community and belonging, one that is not dependent on human value systems, but is inherent to all life here. Back to the paths I walked through the forest, calling out to the trees to guide me in the ways of easing suffering.

During this time I was contacted by Learning Herbs and invited to be part of a docu-series about their program Herb Mentor, of which I was a longtime member. They named my segment, "The Rebel Herbalist," focusing on my movement away from work as a Registered Nurse, and toward the world of the plants (the segment is still on their Herb Mentor sales page, which you can find linked above). A few years later, when I was finally ready to jump into herbalism full time, a friend suggested that my business had already been named by the folks at Learning Herbs, and she was right! The Rebel Herbalist brand was born!

As the Rebel Herbalist I have learned, grown, found my voice, created classes and rituals and herbal products, provided support to hundreds of clients, collaborated with other creators and entrepeneurs, built amazing things, lost amazing things, traveled to the ancestral lands of my people, raised our children with herbs and magic, and have been deeply transformed. I have found my wild self, my inherent belonging to this beautiful world. I have found my empowered dignity. And in the process of finding and losing many things, I could feel that the name that was given to me was no longer mine. I was no longer standing in a place of rebellion. Instead, I was standing firmly in a place of belonging, inclusion, healing and hope. Rebellion was no longer the tone of my work. I had become someone who tends circles; circles of humans, circles of plant communities, circles of fungal networks, circles of hydrological cycles, circles of ancestral stories, circles within circles within circles. I was tending the spiral of being, flowing with the energy of harmony and belonging, and though the overculture may label that as rebellious, it does not feel rebellious to me. It feels inclusive, dignified, centered and heartfelt. It feels like love.

I have found my way back to the guidance of the trees, to the old paths in the forest. I have found my way back to my heart, and the heart of all life. I stand now as a Grove Tender, giving my energy in service to the health and wholeness of this Sacred Grove where we live, and the Spirit Grove of my ancestors. And I invite you to my hearth, the place of warmth and comfort and transformation. The place of healing and wholeness and power. The place where we hear and remember the old stories and are nourished. The place where we become strong again.

Thank you for witnessing my transformation. For several years I could only feel the cooking heat of the fire, and have occasional glimpses of the healing elixir that was being made. Now that elixir begs to be ladled out to others who come to the hearth. Over the next few months I will be listening deeply to the beings of this Grove who I know will instruct me in the ways of distributing this healing love in the world. May this work serve the movement of Life toward more integrity, more harmony, more empowerment, more diversity, more belonging, and more love.

May it be so.

Love always,



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