Most of the medicine I make comes from plants I grow or find volunteering in the earthspace around me. However, a couple times throughout the season I do go a-wildcrafting for some abundant sources of wild medicinals in my area. Finding good wildcrafting areas is a bit tricky these days though. Even out here in the country, wild lands are hard to come by, and it seems everyone has a great love of mowing and spraying anything that look "unkempt". When I'm scouting out good wildcrafting spots, I keep some parameters in mind. I don't tend to harvest from roadsides (unless it is a back back country road with very little traffic). Car exhaust is not good on your medicinals. I don't harvest from land that is sprayed, even once or twice a season--plant medicine and toxic chemicals don't go together. I don't harvest from preserved areas. These are spaces where the plants are protected and they need all the protection they can get. This basically leaves privately owned land where the landowner has some semi-wild spaces that are unsprayed (get permission), and unprotected spaces that are generally unrestricted (like the land under high tension power lines throughout the countryside).
|Queen Anne's Lace|
When harvesting from the wild, I never take the first plant I see, but scan the area to asses how large the community is. If there are but a few plants growing it is best to leave them be as harvesting may decimate the plant in that area. If the plants are abundant, I will harvest only what I need and offer thanks to the plant spirits for what I take.
|St. John's Wort|
|medicine from my wildcrafted harvest|
For more information on wildcrafting the healing plants, I recommend Rosalee de la Foret's wonderful six part blog post on the subject, and Kiva Rose's post on wildcrafting in the Gila wilderness. I also love the book From Earth to Herbalist, by Gregory Tilford, which teaches ethical harvesting practices to ensure that the wild plant populations are not damaged by overzealous wildcrafters. Lastly, any responsible wildcrafter would do well to visit the United Plant Savers website and familiarize themselves with the list of at risk species. These plants are best left alone in the wild so that their populations can reestablish themselves.
O, Great Mother Gaia
I offer my thanks to you this day
All that I have is but borrowed from you
My clothes, my food, my breath...
My very body, all borrowed and one day returned to you
In gratitude I harvest your healing medicine
In humility I promise to use it wisely
For the ease of suffering
And in service to your other children
My heart opens to your love
And sends it back in return