Keeping Plant Folklore Alive
By the Seed SistAs
Over 20 years of experience, we’ve witnessed that true healing occurs when you bring plant medicine to life through humour, art, theatre and storytelling.
Humans learn through story and plants have always been steeped in folklore.
On our apprenticeship, we work with our students to develop a modern folklore for plants. As you deeply observe plants growing and taste, touch, and smell them, they begin to reveal their story to you.
Marshmallow is a herb we turn to time and again for her soothing, cooling medicine. As her velvet leaves indicate, Marshmallow is a plant for softening and soothing. Her leaves offer important medicine for the upper respiratory tract. Her love of damp environments indicate her effectiveness in cases of bronchitis and phlegmy conditions where her demulcent action calms inflammation and softens phlegm so it can more easily be expelled.
Her slimy root shows us clearly her invaluable demulcent properties, cooling and soothing to the digestive and urinary tracts. We use marshmallow where there is heat that needs to be quelled. The root can be taken long-term to support where there has been ulceration in the stomach, damage from chemo or radiotherapy or generally increased levels of acid in the stomach.
We’d like to introduce you to her plant character:
Nurse Althea, the friendly matron
She is a tall, strong woman, with a no-nonsense attitude. She is gentle, but firm offering stability and support. Like all the best nurses, she will tuck you in and soothe you with her soft, fluffy blankets, but when hard graft is needed to get you better, she will not compromise. She will be the firm hand you need to stir you into wellness, to clear away the most persistent of coughs. When anxiety and stress cause heart burn or ulcers, it is Nurse Althea with her elixir to whom you must turn. Soothing and cooling all heat, she reminds you that being a tall, strong leader must always be tempered with soft, gentle tenderness towards yourself and others.
Developing plant characters is how we create modern folklore. It provides a way to weave the stories of different characters together. Telling stories about the plants spreads the knowledge you have in a fun and accessible way. There is a beautiful symbiosis that occurs between plants and people. The plants unleash powerful creativity and storytelling in people, and people bring to life the lessons that plants can teach us and the medicine they impart. Thus ensuring that more folk will care and nurture the plant world around us. Through stories, poems and folklore, messages from the herbs themselves can be more easily absorbed by people now and for future generations.