I’m awakening to the reality that I’m a present day witch. From what I know of the witches of yore they spent their time gathering plants, making concoctions or decoctions, chanting, and doing the general work of healing (warding off evil, if you may). Sure, they got a bad rap when patriarchy emerged full force in the beginnings of the industrial revolution so the fairy tales often convey them as rooted in the dark side. Let us recognize that was the beginning of the emergence of health/medicine moving from the hearth and kitchen to the laboratory and the doctor.
Where that leaves me is in full observation of what I do in the woods. As I ride (always a big uphill to get into the hills) I breathe and allow the forces of nature to consume me entirely. Sounds a little witchy. I breathe through my nose (yes, even up hills at 8-10, 000 ft) enlivening my body with prana, transforming my concsiousness into the greater reality (old witches might have been accused of a trance). At some point a gathering of plants grabs my attentions. I ditch my bike and start harvesting.
The boys I bike with haven’t burnt me at the stake for taking an extra five minutes. They catch their breath (mouth breathers!) and let me fill their pack with roots or leaves. Before you idealize all this into the exotic category – I’m just getting the basics – the plants I like to have around year round. Nettles, red clover, dandelion greens, rosehips. I usually leave the horsetail, valerian, arnica and other more specialized friends.
I “wildcraft” for personal use. More people should. The carbon footprint is low – no plastic bottles with veggie-encapsulated herbs. The reality of our culture – that we would rather buy herbs from a specialist or a store than pick them in our woods – is the reality of what was burned at the stake along with the witch.