Once we have tasted this wildness, we begin to hunger for a food long denied us, and the more we eat of it the more we will awaken. – Stephen Harrod Buhner

Eating wild plants speaks to the ancient and feral part of me that knows sitting in an office or watching endless soul sucking soaps, shopping in supermarkets or joining the rat race day in day out is not quite how life was meant to be.

 

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Foraging, wildcrafting and plant medicine reminds me of a deep and very old connection that is missing in modern western lives and it can’t be replaced with the latest iPhone, dress, bag, shoes or party.

I found myself sucked into this modern western culture where I was completely cut off from the natural world and my own body, too busy to stop and breathe, to busy to take time for myself, to busy to even know who ‘I’ was.

Many many people live and work in unnatural environments surrounded by concrete, plastic and steel. Eating large scale industrial processed or farmed foods. Surrounding themselves with constant distractions; noise, lights, visuals and people, all so they don’t have to feel what’s really going on inside of themselves. I was one of these people.

This kind of environment limited my contact with nature and so I lacked a real heartfelt, regular connection to the natural world and to myself because it just wasn’t  near me and so got forgotten. This had terrible outcomes for my health and emotional well-being.

But deep down I could still feel a rumbling of something, a whisper, an urge. A whispering of something wilder and exciting. This whisper demanded my attention day and night. This demand to connect with something greater, something real, something ancient, something that we have known for hundreds and hundreds of years.

 

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As I looked around and saw that our forests and land are being completely destroyed, and our food, rivers, water supply, sea and air are all being poisoned—I realised I had lost touch with a truth—it’s not technology and the latest products or fashions that sustains us, but the earth.

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I was broken, worn, tired and lost. All I could do was follow the truth that called me, my golden thread of knowing, my desire to be well, to be alive and to be whole. I started to relearn and to remember what our ancestors always knew.

Along the way I remembered my grandmothers gypsy wisdom that I grew up with and I looked for teachers and started to learn about eating and gathering wild foods and the medicine of the plants which returned me to my roots, grounding me in nature and my body.

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I know when I’m eating more wild food, I buzz with a different kind of energy, I feel more alive and less likely to be tamed. I believe in the saying ‘we are what we eat” and I feel I am absorbing the experiences, the DNA and karmic trail of what I put in my body.

Whether that’s vegetables, animals, wild plants or processed food. I think of food as the greatest medicine. Wild food is jam packed with so much goodness that it literally heals me from the inside. It’s amazing too, to know that if I eat alot of one certain plant my dreams will become more alive or if I put that one in my diet my back will feel better, or if I have that one my hay fever will go.

I think eating wild food is the ultimate in connecting with the world around me as I am literally taking it inside me. It deepens my knowledge of the seasons and the landscape. I watch plants grow and die and be reborn which has helped me to be able to let go to understand that death always brings rebirth in some form. I started to notice which plants like to grow together and what type of land certain plants like. Not only has this been healing but it is FREE. Nettles have more goodness and vitality than blue green algae bought from the health food shop and they’re everywhere and cost us nothing.

 

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Foraging for me is about a whole new way of seeing, its a shift from mind as panacea, mind as king, mind as judge, jury and executioner, to mind in service of the senses…extracting meaning from the picture presented to it by the senses, the senses that literally touch the world around us.

The senses that include heart perception and gut feel as well as the ones we’re taught in school…all presented to our consciousness (if only we STOP and tune into it) as a whole that might be described as “how does this feel?”

I like to compare it to learning a new language that contains no words- a language older than words. A language that involves all my senses.  The language of feeling.  The lost language of the heart, which is also the lost language of plants.  You may not hear plants talk in words but they sure as hell communicate with us. Being with plants changes how I feel.   I know this because I feel it.  My intuition switched back to ON after having been burned at so many stakes. I know this to be true because it is my experience.  I’m sharing it and you will choose whether or not to follow/believe/trust, because of how these words make you feel.  This way of being opens the door to life in so much more than HD.

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The thing is though it takes time and I’ve had to be willing to learn what is edible and medicinal, how to use it and where to safely collect it. I have adored this journey, it excites and enlivens me. I have luckily had some very good and wise teachers who have taken me deeper and deeper into plant lore.

I have had to get into my body and out of my head. I learnt to use all of my senses as I will need them all when foraging; sight, smell, touch, sound and feeling. Without them it could end in disaster, it is easy to tell the difference between a comfrey leaf and a foxglove leaf once you know how they feel on your skin. It is a sensory sensual world out there. as it is within the body too. I have learnt not to stand over the plant and stare, but to get down on my knees and smell it, crush the leaves between my fingers and breathe in the scent that comes off them, feel with my fingers whether it is soft or bristly, what does the stem feel like? Is it hollow what do the leaves sound like against my skin.

Beyond that I have been opened, a whole new world of beings has been revealed to me. I have discovered my lost community which doesn’t just consist of people, my community is full of plants and creatures and forests and rivers.  Without them I am not whole.  This is the basis of the Gaia principle, world as living being, and the basis of deep ecology.  We are a part of an ecosystem…not king or more evolved….just a part and it’s time we acknowledged it and played our part in getting to know our extended families.

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Now I can answer the original question. Why forage?  Free food, free vitamins and minerals, health benefits to keep illness and diseases at bay, I get fresh air, exercise, quality alone time and quality community time and healthy eating AND last but not least, I am awakened to the highest bandwidth version of me it’s possible to be.  So my call to the world of humans is to take your health and the health of your family and extended community into your own hands and forage.

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Brigit Anna McNeill

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