We tell our stories to many people and in many contexts. We tell our stories to remember who we are, where we have been, and to assert where we are headed. As a clinical herbalist I sit with many people listening to their personal narratives surrounding their health, happiness, and overall well-being. Within their complex stories are key bits that I can pull out and turn over like a jewel, showing them the many facets of their story and beliefs that may have been hidden from their sight. I can tell which stories are no longer true but they tell out of habit and which stories are fresh and new, bubbling to the surface finding their own breath for the first time.
Photo by Esther Van Beek
The stories we tell about ourselves, our childhood, our work, and our health have a significant impact on not just what we end up doing but the spirit in which we do them. Our stories have power and weight. To underestimate the power of our personal narratives would be like thinking that the unique and specific coding of a computer program doesn’t affect how the program runs and what it is capable of doing.
Think about the stories you tell of your greatest losses in life and your proudest moments of personal triumph. Why do we tend to selectively tell just a few of these stories over and over when we have a significantly larger rolodex that we could choose from? Is it because we love these stories and personally believe in their power?
“The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.” ~ Harold Goddard
There is a great opportunity to go deeper as we heal from illness whether the issue is chronic or acute. By adding personal narrative work to our healing journey we bring in an essential element that moves us forward in a new and empowered way. I like to use herbal medicines as an adjunct to this personal story work as many herbs support the systems of digestion, elimination, and revitalize the spirit which dovetails nicely with realizing what we need to chew on, let go of, and what needs to be added.
There is a great book called, “The Plant Healer’s Path” by herbalists Jessie Wolf Hardin and Kiva Rose that contains an entire chapter on re-defining and re-working our personal stories. Here are a few questions adapted from their work to help us on our path toward creating new personal narratives that move us forward on a path of health, healing, purpose, and happiness:
- Think about the stories that define your life. How do these stories influence your perspective? How do they influence how you see yourself, and your effectiveness as a person, spouse, parent, healer, herbalist?
- What is your life story in relation to your work, practice, passion, aims? What else can be done to share it, champion it, stand up for it, and carry it forward?
- What has been the defining struggle and conflict in your story plot, what were and are the challenges in your life story progression? Why is their resolution important?
- What part of your story needs modifying, changing, and shifting? Which deserve your attention and defense?
- What are the story elements that you would most like to add, to further develop, color, excite and drive your tale ahead?
Herbalism is a holistic practice through which we see a person as not just a physical container of flesh and bones but as a living organism that is constantly adapting and defining itself in relationship to his/her environment, peers, vocation, and personal ideas and ideals about him/herself. By coupling plants with the creation of new healing myths the entire process is potentized.
Here is an example of a tea blend that could be used for someone working their new personal myth that releases stories of victimhood and adds elements of courage and fearlessness in vocation and purpose.
As we move forward with the building energy of the waxing moon this week toward a full moon in Aquarius on the 31st, it is a great time to carefully listen to ourselves speak and communicate our stories. Be inventive and creative with telling old stories as well as new ones! You are laying the foundation for a brighter week and future with each telling of your personal tales of hope, charisma, and happiness!
Courage, Fearlessness, and Purpose Tea
Supports physical digestion, adds spice, fire, and confidence, invigorates the mind. Called the “flower of refreshment” and gives one the courage for forge new paths.
Supports lymphatic detoxification and reduces stagnation, called “the flower of the sun” promotes movement, activity, and hope.
3 flower heads
Borage leaves and flowers
Cooling herb that cleanses and detoxifies while it soothes, called the “flower of courage.” Builds strength & helps dispel sadness and grief.
Red Clover flowers
A cooling blood cleanser that also works on the kidneys, liver, and bowels. Called the “flower of good fortune” and helps clear negativity picked up from others and feel one’s own purpose and center.
Photo by Framboisine Berry