If I had known this endeavor would turn into a blog post, I would have taken better photos—better composition, better lighting…yadda, yadda. But truth be told, I don’t have time for that right now.
Downsizing my herbs turned out to be a bigger endeavor than I thought. I had put the word out to local people to come and get herbs (I harvested and bought herbs in bulk because I was creating products for a business). A couple of friends took a modest amount over the summer, but only one newsletter reader contacted me. Her name is Maggie (hi, Maggie, if you are reading this!).
She came, got some herbs, and as I told her I would be releasing herbs back to the land after I downsized, she said she’d take some more. Our whole transaction reminded me of a chapter in Braiding Sweetgrass about the gift economy. Maggie brought me a gift in exchange for the herbs. It was a full moon that she made, with an amethyst hanging off of it. It’s perfect. I love the moon. Maggie said she does, too.
I get this thing I call Spirit chills when spiritual things happen. An example was after a friend died. She died too young. She was a singer, and as I was riding along grieving her, the lyrics to the song on the radio said, “If you could see me now.” I felt like it was a message from her…”Don’t grieve me; I’m in a great place.” I got Spirit chills that day, and I got Spirit chills opening Maggie’s gift. Because, truthfully, what if we all just gave our gifts to others? How great would the world be? I think Spirit agrees.
Back to the herbs. This project has taken me at least five days. The first step was asking myself if I wanted to take all my herbal stuff with me. Part of me thought, “Do I really want to pack and move all of this?” And the answer was “yes.” I’m not ready to let go of my herbal dreams yet. I really would like to return to using my herbs more, although not in a business. Just for me and for gifts. I made a wonderful nettle infusion as I was downsizing the nettle. Infusions are a great way to use up herbs (as are teas, but you use less of the herb that way). I also want to figure out some of the magical meanings of the herbs I have to use in ceremonies/rituals. I will tell you of a powerful ritual I did with my downsized herbs as an example.
Some of the herbs looked past their prime, some of them I just had too much of (lemon balm, for example). So I dumped all the extra that wasn’t fit or needed for Maggie and me into a couple of large mixing bowls. Then I did what I had intended to do in the first place—I released those herbs in a gratitude ritual, giving back to the land and thanking it for all it had given me. I walked around the perimeter of my property, sprinkling herbs and speaking words as I went, remembering and thanking. I went into other interior parts of the land, like my gardens, areas where my pets used to hang out, and the trees in the orchard, recognizing and thanking those spaces. It was very cathartic and more emotional than I thought it would be. I’m learning that there is power in ritual. And more so in my own private rituals.