On our way to school the other week my daughter was stung by stinging nettles. Immediately she cried out for a dock leaf. I thought how that is probably the first herbal medicine we become aware of as children. What amazing plants to grow right next to each other like that. Along with dandelion they are so prolific around here, and have so so many uses and benefits. This has become synonymous with my yearly reflection.
My goal last year
Last year I took a step back for my usual drive to always learn new things and do more courses and workshops. I really LOVE learning for its own sake. I have spent thousands over the years on courses. Some of which I have never used again. But it’s such a joy to me to learn that it’s never wasted money. The knowledge is always tucked away.
I basically decided that this was the year to master what I had already learned, to deepen my practices. It has been a funny year; work has been quiet and there has been a lot of change in our family. So I’ve been kicking back and hanging out with the kids a lot. And also thinking a lot.
Exploring my privilege
My reflection has been often of how I can find my way in the world as a doula, but also a white woman who wants the world to be fair and just. It’s hard trying to face and deal with your privilege. To accept that some of my habits and practices may have caused people harm. Even if I haven’t intended for that to be the case. One thing I have thought about is cultural appropriation; and how that relates to my doula practice. I have dropped some things entirely (like belly henna… what on Earth was I thinking?) and thought hard about how I can revive my own traditional cultural practices. With the desire to no longer borrow from other cultures!
Discovering cultural knowledge
What even are they? How can I tap into ancient knowledge that was burnt along with midwives/witches hundreds of years ago? I watched an amazing talk as part of LaylaBs postpartum summit by this lady Krystina Friedlander. And she said something that stirred my deeply. She suggested that if we have lost traditional knowledge, that we CAN connect with the plants that our ancestors used, and discover so much through those.
Wow! I then realised that I have actually been doing this already! That my interest in local herbs, trees and hedgerow plants is how I connect with my ancestral knowledge. My desire to make elderberry syrup for my family to see us through the winter cold season, my discovery of Gueller Rose (cramp bark) and the Artemis family of plants (Artemis was the goddess of midwifery, amongst other things). And even those humble garden “weeds”of yellow dock, nettle and dandelion have their uses in the postpartum! It’s all there, and some of it is growing in my back yard!
So actually in reflection I was still learning in 2018, but the plants have been my teachers.