I was fortunate enough earlier this month to meet Sharon Astyk at the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello and attend her lecture “A Nation of Farmers,” an exploration of the current state of energy and food, how the two are connected, and what this means for our future. I can’t say enough good things about Astyk’s writing—that’s me on the left in the photo, valiantly trying not to stammer in my excitement—but suffice to say, if you have any interest in self-sustaining practices at home, you should look her up.

Sharon Astyk at Heritage Harvest Festival, Monticello. Photo by Mary Delicate

Pertinent to the subject matter of this learning blog, however, Astyk recently wrote a couple posts on her favorite herbalism books. Her second post I found particularly interesting, as it addresses the issue of scientific versus intuitive herbalism. In choosing my herbalism teacher and in continuing to study at home on my own, it was always important to me to ensure I was receiving a balance of the two.

Is there a right or wrong approach to herbalism? Well, we all have our opinions, but there are practitioners on both ends of the spectrum for whom I have immense respect. What these practitioners do is powerful largely due to the fact that they are following and using their own strengths and inclinations. So Rosemary Gladstar, Christopher Hobbs, Susun Weed, Jim Duke, etc., all sit at different points along this scientific/intuitive spectrum, and we can learn from all of them.

But for self-study and home herbal practice? We don’t need to be any of these fine people. We must find our own strengths, our own voice. Education isn’t necessarily the same as emulation. We can choose which tools to keep for our own toolbox.

And without further ado, click here to read Sharon Astyk’s thought-provoking blog on the subject.