What did people do when they felt anxious 300 years ago?
Were they too uncivilized to recognize it? Did we consider it simply part of the muddy cocktail of the human condition? Had local village alchemists discovered SSRIs but we simply term them differently today?
Most people are probably aware that homeopathic knowledge – ancestral, indigenous, generational, or any other variety – is often overlooked in medical science.
In fact, because the traditions tend to be passed down orally, or in languages other than common lingua francas, some consider this knowledge to be “forgotten.”
Especially as monoculture threatens to permanently alter ecosystems, and those in power are ignorant as to the uses of the plants they’re harming, it’s essential to encourage those who can to keep the knowledge alive.
That’s what drives Evan Cohen, an herbalist who just happens to live in one of the most biodiverse regions of the country – Madison County, North Carolina. She even studied at the nationally heralded Terra Sylva Herb School.
Right inside the Blue Ridge Mountains lurks land that’s been untouched by industrial hands – mostly, anyway. It’s hard to say exactly what it looked like 500 years ago, but as of right now, it’s an amazing place to study botanicals, herbology, and anything else that involves using the natural world to care for the inner human world.
In fact, my Grandmaster used to say “within 15 feet of where you’re standing, there’s a remedy to whatever you’re suffering from.”
I’d say that’s certainly true in Madison County.
Last week, I got to chat with Evan, who does so much with nature it’s hard to fully quantify it.
She’s an herbalist, and sometimes a wildcrafter – which means she grows and harvests plants to use for medicinal purposes, sometimes plucking them right where they’re found in nature, and enhances their useability for the average layperson – and she’s in the perfect place to do it.
However, herbalism isn’t where her connection with improving the conditions of nature and man ends.
The Many Functions of Evan
Some of her favorite parts about the work that she does include making flower essences, botanicals, tinctures, and – not as different as you’d think – being a doula.
Evan’s focus is always on how best to nurture.
Sometimes she does that by educating her clients and followers about how to use yarrow, the origins of distilling flower essences, and sometimes by shepherding people through the arduous emotional task of being pregnant, whether or not they choose to become a parent.
Throughout the podcast, Evan discusses some of the more surprising parts about the life she’s decided to live…
When she first began her herbalism journey many years ago, one of the principles that helped guide her was that plants often look like what they’re designed to do (the doctrine of energetic signatures)…
It seems obvious once you know it. Societies without alphabets and common languages and written history had to figure out what kinds of plants protect and what kinds hurt, right?
While Evan can trust in the botanical world that things are what they seem…
She can’t say the same about being a doula.
Pregnant People Look Like Everyone
People who choose to get abortions often don’t look anything like the people society thinks choose to get abortions…
And people who choose to create families look every way you could possibly imagine.
The best part, for her, of being a doula is getting to support families on their journey to becoming whatever kind of family they want to be, whatever that looks like.
For Evan’s part, she loves to be a non-judgmental participant, to observe things not as she wants them to be, but as they are. It’s an important and hard-won lesson for all people to learn, really.
Just as our ancestors noticed that repeatedly using one plant’s essence tended to elicit similar physical and spiritual responses, the order of the world around is already decided. Our only role is to encourage it in its path, and seek its uses without causing harm.
That’s the central tenet of her doula work (she gets deeper into it during the podcast).
Check out our conversation. You’ll hear us talking about:
- The flower essence everyone’s been asking for since the pandemic hit.
- How learning about plant purposes is like learning a different language.
- The specific alcohol she uses to lock in the energy of an essence.
- How she decides the method of adaptogen ingestion.
- The myriad ways a doula can support a pregnant person.
- How to connect modern safety and personal empowerment during pregnancy.
- And so much more.