Becoming a Healer
by Agnies Calkoen
Between 2013 and 2015 I was an apprentice on the first Sensory Herb Apprenticeship.
I trained as a GP and have been working in the NHS for about 20 years. The medical model of illness and health has never been enough for me; it has always left massive voids in observing and advising people about their health.
The medical model that I was taught is very focused on pharmaceuticals and decisions are made in a context where all people are deemed to be a physiological entity that will respond in predictable way. Also our appointments are limited to ten minutes, during which we are supposed to build a relationship with people and design a plan to improve health, with patient and practitioner being partners in the process. Consultations are focused on a quick fix rather than an exploration of the terrain in which a health issue was able to develop.
No wonder that when I met Fiona and Karen something deep in me was touched. The Apprenticeship gave me very practical knowledge about how plants work on the body’s physiology but on top of this, we were given the opportunity to really get to know each plant intimately.
Learning to work with plant consciousness and beginning a dialogue with plants was, for me, a validation of using my deeper knowledge, or intuition. The herb craft apprenticeship course complemented a training I did with Marc Blausten, pupil of Barbara Brennan, who taught me Energy Healing.
These two tools have helped me to become aware of much more than what our five senses perceive, and, more importantly, have allowed me to become less focused on using my brain for information processing and decision making. I think many organs in our body have the capacity to process information, and they all add a different quality to it. I now predominantly try to think with my heart, which gives the quality of flow, compassion, and is non-judgmental. It allows my mind to be still and gain information that might not otherwise be heard.
This is very helpful in working with plants. Unlike the pharmaceutical or even phytotherapy (the more biochemical use of herbs) approach where the action of a pill or potion is determined by its molecules, my still mind learns that plants work very individually, and work on the non-physical as well as the physical body. Thus they can be helpful in clearing energetic trauma and they can repair damage in a similar way that I use Energy Healing.
As you can see, the depth of knowledge I gained about plant medicine on the Apprenticeship is an invaluable addition to my healing toolkit. On top of that, although I am a pretty useless gardener, I absolutely love foraging, harvesting, making tinctures, balms, and selecting herbs for people on a completely individual basis. Such a difference from my work as a GP! …Although I do let some of it sneak into my day job, the healing and the plants I practice with at home on my days off.
Meeting the plants was only one part of this wonderful journey. Equally amazing were the wonderful and inspiring people I met, a true panacea for the feelings of exhaustion and despair that sometimes overwhelm me when working in the NHS.
Having a solid medical background definitely helps me to get a very complete picture when engaging with a patient within my healing practice. I am sharing this knowledge with current students on the Sensory Herb Apprenticeship in workshops that teach them about common medical problems and pitfalls, and anatomy and physiology.
As I grow into my new knowledge, I am planning some workshops to share my passions, I am embarking on some herb walks and have had a lot of fun making balms with kids.
I am expanding my practice outside of my GP surgery and this Autumn I am hoping to spend a day a week as a holistic practitioner in a local clinic.
I am ever so grateful to have found a way to be a healer more than a doctor.
Agnies is based in Plymouth. Contact her to find out more about her practice: 07816217135 / [email protected]