People always ask me how I became a Healer and Herbalist? Who did I study with and where? Granted I do hold a Masters of Science degree in Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine but before graduate school I spent over a decade doing fieldwork as a “desert rat” taking three journeys a year to different locations in the high deserts of California and the Southwest.
A desert rat is a term of endearment for all of us who might sight one another far off in the distance or at a general store picking up supplies in lost towns in dusty remote regions. Recognizable to each other by our clear eyes, fast instincts and disdain for having to interact with other humans.
I would pack up my truck in Oakland and leave for 10-day desert immersions. With maps in hand (no gps) and sheer gut instincts I would venture out into the high desert and learn the deep skill of listening; from plants, the winds voice or from a coyote encounter.
Annually, I would return to sleep in a tufa cave at 4,ooo feet elevation. The cave, which I came to call “my pod”, was one of my biggest Teacher’s. One late night while perched on the top of my cave pod I watched the night stars bright as gemstones and inhaled the Artemisia tridenta on the winds. Young and apprenticing I was just learning how to “be” on the land. The night Owl decided to gift me a lesson, they screeched and flew so fast with talons out trying to take me down. I fell back down into my pod hiding as to not be attacked by the ferocity and precision of the Owls aim. The Owl was teaching me to be aware that I was a visitor and this was there territory.
The desert not only taught me Herbal Medicine it made me brave and willing to face my shadow over and over again and return annually for profound and magical teachings.