Today I had the pleasure of walking down the big hill at Learning in the Woods with Elizabeth Boyd, Registered Herbalist. She has walked down this path every Wednesday for the past 2 months and as an herbalist, she is very familiar with all of the plants along the path and how they change as the seasons change. Today she was so excited. She spotted many first year Mellein plants, a biennial meaning that it takes 2 years to complete its botanical lifecycle. She also said that it is new to our pathway and can be used to treat ailments in children such as ear infections. By the time she finished her explanation, we had reached another new clump of plants which she said was called Motherswort, a plant used most often for anxious mothers. Suddenly I became aware of the irony in our path. I turned to Elizabeth and said, “Do you mean that the new plants that are growing on our path are reflective of the people using this path?” Yes. “Is that your belief system; that nature will provide the plants and herbs that are most needed by the people living in the space?” Yes, it happens all the time.
That was kind of mind blowing to me. These herbs were growing where mothers trudge down the pathway with their kids on their way down to base camp. These herbs were emerging in this shared space in response to the energetic needs of the people using the path…that same day I learned that Elizabeth first studied as a chemical engineer before becoming a registered herbalist. After reflecting on this, I think I have a better understanding of her perspective, knowing her science background and passion about herbalism.
So, in a very basic sense, energetics is a way of restoring equilibrium in a system. The energy you are looking at can be as vast as the energy flow of the cosmos or as miniscule as quantum physics. Energy is always flowing. My husband is a mechanical engineer and I have heard a few conversations about thermodynamics, but suddenly those (boring) conversations have new meaning for me! Ecologist, Howard T. Odom, suggests that there is a hierarchy of energy forms which account for energy quality and the evolution of the universe. He adds to the theory of thermodynamics to include this principle that;
“Flows of energy develop hierarchical webs in which inflowing energies interact and are transformed by work processes into energy forms of higher quality that feedback amplifier actions, helping to maximise the power of the system” — (Odum 1994, p. 251)
To bring this back to the pathway leading to basecamp at Learning in the Woods, Mothers and children arrive with their particular energy quality and our natural environment along the footpath responds to that energy quality. At the very least it responds to offer a restoration of balance but it may be responding in a way that transforms too. Mothers who are worried, if in tune with nature’s offering, can use Motherswort to restore balance in their hearts and minds, and let go of their worry and anxiety for their children. In that work of rebalancing, they are potentially able to transform though to a higher energy quality…they have the potential to become a better parent, a better person?
Wow. Yes. Yes again. This is exactly what we are trying to do here. Encouraging parents to let go of their worry, let go of their fear, trust and transform to be more self-aware in their parenting and interactions with others. And here is our little footpath, responding to our families, giving them a natural remedy to aid in this transformation. I guess “We LearnNaturally” is a good name on multiple levels.
The beauty of this line of thinking from Elizabeth Boyd, Registered Herbalist (and chemical engineer!) is that when you believe in energetics, and I mean in both a superficial and holistic sense, then it becomes easier to let go of the fear that grips you. Because you know that the nature of things dictates that balance will be restored…and potentially even transformed into something greater than before. How reassuring…Nature will provide. The universe will provide. So go ahead and take a deep breath.