The Sacred Art and Science of Wildcrafting
As herbalists define it, wildcrafting describes appropriate methods and ethical behaviors that are applied when gathering medicinal plants and mushrooms in their natural environment. Thankfully, there is growing consumer awareness and demand for high integrity, accountable behavior and practices associated with wildcrafting. Identifying and meeting these demands is of the highest priority for Clearpath Herbals.
Scientific and medicinal awareness of wildcrafting:
- How to accurately identify medicinal plants
- Which parts of the plants are medicinal
- What time is best for maximum potency, both seasonally and by lunar influence
- What method of gathering is best for optimizing medicinal vitality
Environmental and ecological awareness of wildcrafting:
What plants are ethically sound to pick; that is, knowing specifically which plants are endangered, at-risk, or ‘to watch’, as well as what appropriate substitutions — abundant, naturalized, alien, invasive species — are available; what environments are off-limits for gathering due to contamination or pollution from a multiplicity of sources; how to gather plants leaving a minimal ‘footprint’ while also taking sustainable measures to ensure the continued health of plant populations and the ecosystems from which they are gathered.
Our Philosophy on Wildcrafting:
At Clearpath Herbals we wildcraft and/or cultivate as many of the plants for our apothecary as possible. Our wildcrafting calendar is based on the needs of the community and apothecary, and is set and influenced by the criteria laid out above. For Clearpath Herbals, these are the minimum criteria. Also, we honor and follow the teachings passed on by Native American medicine elders, understanding that we are part of a global community that includes all living beings, and that plants, animals, elements and the Earth itself are conscious beings and our elders. As much as possible, from start to finish, we perform every step and aspect of wildcrafting and garbling medicinal plants and mushrooms as consciously and reverently as possible. We feel that this only adds to the quality, potency and vitality of our medicines.
Garbling: The actual gathering of plant medicines is wildcrafting, and ‘garbling’ is the term herbalists use to describe the process of cleaning plants and mushrooms gathered, readying them for drying or converting into medicine.
Wildcrafting and garbling are richly satisfying and rewarding experiences. Gathering medicines strikes a deep chord in our collective human memory. It is a chance to get out into the sanctity and sanctuary of nature, a chance to be a part of the process of the medicines we take, to slow down and get quiet, a chance to meet plants and mushrooms on their terms, in their home, and to feel the respect and awe that comes with being in the presence of these powerful medicines.
That same deep chord is struck by this shared experience of communal activity. We love to remind participants that these activities are as ancient as anything in our cultural DNA. Sitting in a circle of friends, cleaning herbs, sharing stories and laughter is an activity we have been doing for tens of thousands of years.
Wildcrafting Immersion, offered by Clearpath School of Herbal Medicine, is a unique opportunity for people interested in wildcrafting to join our team for an experience of this mission.