Thursday, October 25, 2012

Animals as Herbalists

I have been extremely fortunate lately to have the opportunity to connect with a number of excellent Herbalists, (just one of the many good things that have been made possible from our friends at Mountain Rose Herbs), but for most of my previous herbal education I found some of the most influential teachers to be the animals themselves.

My first introduction to herbs for horses was from my first horse Tahoe. She had an affinity for Dandelions and Red Clover and whenever I would hand graze her she had this knack for locating them both. I remember asking my trainer at the time about it and she said it should be fine, but not to let her have too much clover because it can make them sick. There was nothing about what Dandelions or Red Clover could do to enhance Tahoe's health or why this horse might be craving them and seeking them out. I frequently feel as though I should apologize every day to Tahoe for my ignorance and Thank her for her patience. It is amazing to me that even though she died in 1997 the lessons she tried to teach me still affect me today, both in herbs and in working with other horses.

When we open ourselves up to guidance I feel that it shows up sometimes in unexpected places so we have to keep our eyes and our awareness open. My most recent guide to herbal medicine has come in a feathery form. Our neighbors have peafowl and for reasons I can't quite figure out, I adore them. This young male in particular has started hanging around every time I am making the horses supplements. It started out with him coming up to the doorway and watching me, but I have noticed this Fall he is doing a lot more than watching. He tips his head, clucking slightly and shakes his top notch. I began to offer him Borage, which now he will take right from my hand. I was concerned initially with just how much of the fresh Borage he ate, but I reminded myself that he probably knows what he is doing. This behavior I have seen in the horses and dogs as well. They will gobble up a bunch of an herb fresh, sometimes for several days in a row and then not want it at all for awhile. I know it frustrates the volunteers and people I try and help with herbal formulas because they always want ratios and timelines and more structure then I can provide. Herbs are personal and individual and we have to listen to those little voices and pay attention for them to be the most effective. Or, if all else fails, take advice from a peacock.

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