Thursday, 6 August 2015

Why I Became A Herbalist

There's no one reason why I became a herbalist.  In fact, there are notably many reasons, which in a sense means it's probably the right thing for me to do unless they amount to rationalisations.  Here are a few of them, arranged in bullet points because I'm lazy:
  • It was an ethical and environmentally sustainable thing to do.  Up until that point, it had proven effectively impossible to find paid work which wasn't ideologically unsound in some way.  Plants just grow whether or not they're patented or otherwise appropriated by capitalism (or feudalism for that matter).  They can also have a very short supply chain, particularly if you're obtaining them directly yourself. This is why I have a bias towards using plants which are indigenous to this country and "weeds", i.e. plants which grow vigorously and are invasive under certain conditions.  Using local plants means there is no use of fossil fuels at all when I wildcraft them and there are also some who think that local plants are the most appropriate for local health conditions.  I didn't need to rely on the ethical decisions of anyone else to do it, so I wasn't trying to wash my hands of anything it was inappropriate to do so.
  • It was an extension of veganism, in two ways.  Given the use of animal procedures in medical research and in the derivation of certain drugs, it made sense to me to pursue medicine which was not tested on animals, or if it was, that testing had no connection to any money I was sending anywhere.  Nor is there anything like insulin derived from genetically modified organisms or premarin from mare's urine in this.
  • The other way in which it's an extension of veganism is that to me, herbalism is akin to dietetics.  In order to adopt a plant-based diet, I decided to research nutrition.  This got out of hand and ultimately turned into studying medicine.  When I initially went vegan, I decided to plan my diet from the ground up rather than just swapping products.  This hasn't quite stayed that way due to formerly fussy children.
  • My MA dissertation was into supervenience and dialectic.  This includes the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and therefore lends itself to holistic views of the world.  In a way, my academic work segued straight into herbalism, which considering I'm a philosopher might seem a bit strange.
  • It's a form of praxis.  Just as Yoga often involves a balance between the abstract and the concrete and radical political theory a similar combination of practical action and political philosophy, my approach to herbalism has a similar combination.  I'm a philosopher in a similar sense to that in which a table is a table, but I needed to anchor myself, and I did this with herbalism.
  • In the circumstances where the chips are down and some mishap befalls civilisation, I want to have useful skills and experience to help others and possibly use them for bargaining purposes.  Herbalism is this.
  • It was a way of acquiring medical knowledge, skills and experience without attempting to pursue the option of qualifying as a doctor, an option which is unavailable to me.
  • It meant I could help improve and maintain the well-being of those closest to me without recourse to having to trust strangers.
  • Ultimately, and I kept this very quiet because at the time I was thoroughly ground under the (flat) heel of the TERF jackboot, it gave me an option to alter my gender presentation if I couldn't resist it any longer, and of course in the end that's exactly what happened.
There's probably a lot more but that's all I can remember for now.