WHAT TO DO WITH AN HERBAL EDUCATION
There are many reasons to seek an herbal education, ranging from a desire to become a clinical herbalist to something more informal such as helping family and friends. Simply falling in love with herbs is also a perfectly valid reason! Regardless of the initial reasons that set us on this journey, an herbal education can be a doorway to many different paths: a way to create community or to help people in need, as a way to support conservation efforts for endangered plant species, or even as a means to develop a personal creative outlet through gardening, making herbal products, or as an artist or photographer.
Foster Vibrant Community
Creating and fostering vibrant community is a wonderful use of an herbal education. Whether a small, local effort like hosting a regular club meeting, or on a greater level such as organizing a workshop or conference, herbalists thrive in community and networking with one another.
Another popular form of gathering for herbalists is a swap meet where people can gather to exchange homemade herbal goods. Having a formal herbal education is beneficial in these roles, because it allows the host or organizer to better answer questions of beginners and participants new to herbalism, and to become a reliable resource for their community.
Another aspect of community is that many people come to herbalism out of a desire to help other people. In addition to seeing clients and developing a regular practice, some herbalists seek to help their communities by establishing free clinics or sliding scale clinics to make sure that herbalism is accessible for everyone – regardless of income. Or they may adopt an area of expertise and volunteer their time helping others with specific health challenges that they have worked with personally. Having a formal herbal education gives these herbalists the foundation they need to work confidently with many different people.
Plants, of course, are an important part of herbalism. They are why we do what we do – and an herbal education can be used to honor the plants just as easily as it can be to create human communities and help other people. With an herbal education, we can work to show others the importance of ecological balance and how invasive species affect native plant populations. We can use our knowledge to create botanical sanctuaries and to care for endangered species.
As herbalism becomes more accepted and mainstream, it combines with the desire many people have for sustainable and local goods to create a need for small herb farms that serve local communities. Having ethical, sustainable sources for botanicals will become increasingly important, as will the role of sanctuaries and ethical wild-crafting, and the people who can share these important skills with others.
Many consumer products companies are focusing on plant-based solutions for home and cleaning products. Melaleuca products, for example, are made with natural herbs such as thyme and rosemary, which are safer to use in the home and around loved ones than harsh chemicals.
Find Creative Inspiration
Herbalism is also a joyful outlet for creativity and an expression of vitality. As such, with the preparation of a good herbal education we can develop new recipes, design gardens, or start a business that expresses some other aspect of why plants inspire us. Knowing how herbal formulas are developed from a traditional perspective, combined with other skills gleaned from an herbal education, helps us going forward as we create our own blends.
The extensive knowledge we acquire of the plants themselves can help us create wonderful garden spaces around different aspects of health, or that best match the environment where the garden is found. An herbal education can also inspire the creative endeavors of photographers and artists who work to translate their love of plants into visual media.
Herbal Education is Just the Beginning
Whatever you choose to do with your herbal education, remember to follow your heart and allow your own path to develop as you go. Each of us has a unique voice and special gifts and talents that we bring to the world of herbalism – and it’s important to remember that an herbal education is just the beginning!
If you’re looking for an affordable, high-quality herbal education, we invite you to explore our Introductory and Intermediate online herbal learning courses. Our students discover many inspiring ways to apply what they have learned as they explore their own paths within herbalism. We’d love to see you in class!