“Do you remember the beginning? Your soft fingers rested, curled into tiny bunches as soon as they formed within the womb of the mother. And stayed that way, neatly and securely tucked in, as you made your grand entrance into the light body of this world. They are still curled into fists now, when you are sleeping and when you are not. Whether you realise it or not, you have kept them in that position ever since the beginning, as if holding onto something precious. Do you know why?”
‘Thus Spoke the Plant” Monica Gagliano,
Working with herbs during the peri-natal period is a dynamic way to navigate some of the challenges presented by pregnancy and bring us into closer connection with the natural world. From varicose veins and haemorrhoids to gestational nausea, anaemia, oedema and post partum perineal healing, nature has solutions that pharmaceutical medicines often cannot safely provide. Tapping into the power of the bountiful gifts of the fields and woodlands can be the first step to taking ownership of one’s body and it’s healing. As such it is a powerful tool for a pregnant person. The parallel between the creatrix energy of growing new life and the connection of that process with the wider natural world is often a profound one for pregnant and post partum woman. For many it is the first experience of this relationship in an embodied rather than an intellectual way.
The traditional way wyse women undertook to understand the healing properties of herbs was to engage in a relationship with each plant. Indigenous American shaman refer to the ‘dieta’ - a long period of imbibing the herb whilst staying in a watchful relationship with the body to observe it’s responses. This process requires us to be in alignment with nature in a way that modern life rarely allows. Pregnancy offers an opportunity to do the same thing. By being truly ‘present’ in the body, we can learn all it has to teach us. About labouring. About parenting. About life. If we are able to go into close connection with the body, insights, intuitions and a deeper understanding of physiological processes become more accessible.
Monica Gagliano’s words remind me that we all come in with a knowingness of the value of the natural world and we would do well to maintain it as strongly as we can. On a sunny morning, as my cat takes her morning stroll around the garden I observe her taking time to chew on a sprig of Herb Robert. Sometimes she induces a purge with a few blades of dewy grass. She knows what she is doing. She came in knowing it.
On my own journeys with plant medicine, I have learned from the dreams I experienced whilst in connection with Artemisia and from the insights felt whilst developing a bond with Alchemilia. I have built my body back to strength with long periods of mineral-rich Nettle. I have accepted the enforced rest of fatigue by quieting my over-taxed adrenals with Withania. My yoga practice after connection with cannabis sativa, brings a deep communication between my muscles, ligaments and joints and an ego-less state to my mind so that healing and rest is absolute. Books did not give me this knowledge; relationship did. It is this intuited wisdom that has the capacity to inform, empower and engage us as healers and mothers in all of our animal majesty.
Vicky Walker is a birth doula and peri-natal natural health specialist. Contact her here