I often refer to myself as a pirate.......to be more specific an herbal witch pirate! It started out as a fun thing, because well.......I really love the romanticized stories of pirates, in particular, the anti-hero pirate who is fighting against injustice, fighting for the deep down truth that often few are privy to, and supporting the downtrodden to help lift them up. (and yeah, I know the anti-hero often does a lot of really nefarious shit..........but this is my romanticized version where I can often feel for the essence....before it goes awry into mayhem and murder.......I much prefer shenanigans to mayhem.....haha)
Over the years I have sat with this.......and have decided, upon my own accord, that all herbalists really are pirates of sorts....especially the good ones. While we. might have come to our own unique conclusions or ideas about something......it is all built upon the work of others who came before us.....and we carry that work into every idea, every project, and every conclusion we derive. Our work is not original. And before you gasp, scream, and grumble about that statement.......I mean it in a good way. This work isn't the work of the individual. It is the work of a whole collective of connections between people, plants. minerals, weather, water, soil, animals, mycelium. and so and and so forth, that has breathed it's life into the tendrils (or as Stephen Buhner might call them, golden threads), that is woven through each of us that choose this path.
Pirates pillage and plunder of course......and the herbal pirates, the good ones, the respectable ones, well......they borrow....and there is a difference between stealing and borrowing in this realm, at least as I see it. When we borrow, we do so, hopefully, with respect to the voices we are borrowing from. This means we don't claim work that isn't our own, as our own......we give credit to our teachers and our colleagues who helped to add to the thread we are following. (of course there are always the people who will steal and well.......those are. usually the folks that are very young to this work and haven't yet developed the reverence that comes with the time and experience of walking this path. It could also be that they are of the "woke folk", who seem to think that everything should be freely given, accessible, and available to claim without any regard to the time and energy spent....and well.........there should always be an exchange and that exchange is subjective, but one's experience and choice as to where to put their energy should never be labeled as "gatekeeping". Seriously......want to learn this stuff that is available to all.....put in the fucking time and energy to do so....and maybe say thank you once in a while when people do share openly.......and give credit.............these are all the makings of a bad pirate herbalist and hopefully through time they shift to one of greater compassion, kindness, and mutual respect. Those of us who have spent 10,20,30 plus years in this field don't owe you anything.......although we. may choose to share it, as kind pirate herbalists often do.....and wow holy moly cow and cat........Im getting off subject here!)
Back to the program.....or ramble....or rant, depending on who you are reading this and the whole set of experiences and perspectives you bring with you to this moment........haha.
We borrow and we borrow and we borrow. We learn from our teachers, schools, books, articles......and then we put those. into play and motion.....and it is here that magic starts to take shape. We take what we have taken........and add our own sparkle to it, usually without conscious intention. A little dash of me when I was 15, a little sprinkle of me at 40, and just a wee little pinch of me when I was 4 (because I haven't uncovered that shit yet, and we must always be careful with adding in mysterious shit that will most certainly, always , undeniably pop up later.....at least this way we can say "oh I meant to add that" rather than "holy fuck what have I done!".). The thread starts to shift just a little bit........and then someone borrows from us and the same thing happens again and again and again until forever (or until the end of the human species, which I dont think is going to come anytime soon, but every once in a pandemic or a digital currency flip....I start to think....well........maybe........."). It is a thread that gets a new tinier thread added to it......you. know how embroidery floss or ropes are made? It looks like one piece.....but upon closer inspection, we see that it is made up of multiple pieces, each unique in themselves, but part of a bigger whole that make up a thread that is stronger, more solid, and can be used to tie knots, make sweaters, or anchor a boat to it's dock so it doesn't float away into the abyss.
So that's a bit of what I mean when I call myself a pirate herbalist witch. The witch part.....well.....thats a whole different story for another time............
And a huge thank you to the pirates from whom I have learned and who willingly shared their threads with me..........I am grateful. Arrrrggggghhhhhhhhh!