Virtually any time a book title has “Native American Herbalism” or something similar in it, it’s going in my reading pile. A lot of times I’m disappointed but this time I wasn’t. I hadn’t even gotten through the ‘Preface to the New Edition’ before I realized that Stephen Buhner is a man after my own heart. In that preface he talks about the electromagnetic field found in everything on this Earth and how that creates a symbiotic relationship between its inhabitants – including Man and Plants. I like it when people can explain in scientific terms what I instinctively know but can’t put into words.
Whether you believe that plants are sentient or not (I happen to know they are), he explains in beautiful prose how Man and Earth are interconnected. More importantly, he gives you his personal experiences of how he came to use plant medicine and once he found it, his journey to discover more. He describes his meetings with elders of various tribes and some of the information imparted to him, including how to make sacred plant medicine.
One paragraph echoes what I say in some of my talks, “I had been taught, from an early age, that only experts knew what was wrong with my body. … How was it, I finally wondered, that we have all been taught that the individual human being cannot know what is wrong with his or her body? … I realized that I had been taught to fear death and that these strangers were the ones who had been self-appointed to save me from what I had been taught to fear.” Or in my words, who knows your body better than you?
About a third of the book is devoted to fourteen different herbs found mostly in the western US. But it’s not just what the herb looks like, where it grows, or what it’s good for; he includes prayers and ceremonies for and about the herb from several different tribes.
If you have any interest at all in Native American ways with herbs, this is a must-read. It’s informative, calming and uplifting all at the same time.