I do. A few actually. But today I want to introduce you to a dear friend of mine who is one of my inspirations, Rosalee de aa Foret.
Rosalee is an herbalist, structural medicine practitioner, online presence powerhouse, and world traveller. She is of the next generation of powerful herbalists up and coming in the United States. And she’s a generous and caring human being.
So, I thought we could take some time and learn from her! Grab a cup of ginger tea, get cosy, and check out the interview below. Get ready to learn some secrets of the herbal world… And get your booties to the end of this article, cause there’s a surprise down there…
What is your first memory of being intrigued with plants?
When I was a young girl, maybe 8 or so, I went on a guided hike with my dad in southern Utah. I remember the guide telling us about “Brigham Young tea” (Ephedra spp.). He had us break off a small piece of this spindly looking plant and taste it. I remember being so blown away that you could just eat plants in the wild. Throughout my childhood I would show off to my friends that I knew that plant and could eat it.
Flash forward over a decade later, I was just out of college and walking in a park in Seattle. A friend of mine shouts excitedly that she has just found the motherlode. I walk over to find her busily picking blackberries. We harvested for quite awhile and then quite suddenly something hurt my arm. “That’s stinging nettle.” she tells me. “I think you can eat it or something.”
Again, I was so fascinated with this idea of wild foods and wild plants. They are growing everywhere!
What is your current favorite herb and why?
Admittedly the hardest question you can ask any herbalist. Just to pull one out of my hat, I adore St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) these days. It’s well known in herbal marketing as the “depression herb”, but I’ve never actually used it for that. It has so many other uses!
Last night I tweaked my neck while sleeping. All morning long I was dealing with a painful crick in my neck, until I got smart and had my husband massage warmed St. John’s Wort Oil into my neck and shoulders. My husband has a lot of redeeming qualities, but a good masseuse isn’t one of them. It’s for that reason I know that the soothing relief and immediate improvement in pain came from that beautiful red oil. I’ve used it before for myself and others for other types of nerve pain like sciatica, and it works so well. (Rosalee forgot to mention that she made this oil herself, and you can too!)
I also use St. John’s Wort a lot for herpes outbreaks like cold sores. Taken internally and applied externally it can stop a cold sore from coming on.
Last year I had an abundance of St. John’s Wort so I made a honey wine with it. Quite delicious!
Who have you studied herbalism with?
I began my plant studies with Karen Sherwood of Earthwalk Northwest. She and her husband have a primitive living skills school and she teaches the ethnobotany and wild foods portion of it. While not strictly “herbalism” this was my first foray into hands on learning with plants including botany, ethical wildcrafting and using wild plants as foods.
Through the apprenticeship with Frank and Karen and I knew I wanted to study medicinal plants. I learned a lot on my own using the incredible abundance of books and internet resources. Once I decided I wanted to be a clinical herbalist I decided to do more formal training and went on to study with Michael Tierra and Paul Bergner. Most recently Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa has been my one-on-one mentor.
What other healing styles have you studied?
I spent four years in intensive training for Structural Medicine. This is a type of structural integration similar to rolfing or hellerwork. In a nutshell we use myofascial massage to address chronic and acute pain or to support general well being. One thing that makes Structural Medicine unique is using postural analysis and myofascial length testing as diagnostic tools as well as to assess results.
Side note from Kat here. I had the pleasure to have Rosalee do this kind of work on my body. At the beginning of the session I felt like Quasimodo and wondered how I had made it so far in life! By the end of the session my shoulders were relaxed down my back and my whole upper body felt relief! Magic stuff this.
Tell us about your work at LearningHerbs.com.
LearningHerbs.com is a company owned by friends of mine, John and Kimberly Gallagher. John and Kimberly are both herbalists and are both wildly creative. They’ve come up with some great learning tools for the home herbalist including Wildcraft! an adventure board game and an Herbal Medicine Making Kit. Occasionally they have specialized online courses with herbalists. They also produce HerbMentor.com.
I work as a consultant for LearningHerbs.com. I write a free newsletter for LearningHerbs.com each month and then, as I mentioned above, provide a lot of the educational content for HerbMentor.com.
When John first told me about his new website, HerbMentor.com four years ago I had no idea it would shape my life as much as it has. Back then I was a budding herbalist without a lot of direction on where I wanted to go with it. I loved the site though and started showing up in the forums to answer questions and after awhile John asked if I wanted to officially commit to being on the forums a couple hours a week. I then started writing articles for my own herbal clientele and gave a few to John. He liked them and asked if I would be willing to share more of my articles on a consulting basis.
Fast forward four years later, HerbMentor.com is a constant inspiration in my life and now takes up to 20 – 30 hours of my time each week.
How is life going these days?
I am living my dream life. I have a loving husband, a dream job and a great community around me. I often like to point this out when teaching classes because I think it’s important to be an example of joy and living a good life.
Last year, during a class I was teaching, someone raised their hand and said, “What makes you so special? Why do you have such a good life?”
I was really taken aback by that question and I didn’t really give her a good response. I probably still don’t have that great of a response but I have had time to mull it over.
Of course I don’t consider myself any more or less special than anyone else but there are two qualities that I notice in myself that have led me to where I am.
One is that the choices I have made in my life have not been driven by a desire to gather more and more money or by other cultural “shoulds”. I love my simple life. I live in a cozy cabin in the woods without running water and minimal solar electricity. Rent is cheap and the satisfaction of living there is grand. I don’t have bills like most people, no cable, no cell phone, no utilities, no car payment, etc. This really furthers my ability to choose how I want to live my life. I wake up in the morning thinking, “what do I want to do today?” I don’t wake up wondering how much money do I have to earn to pay the bills today.
Of course everyone doesn’t want to live as simply as I do, but I encourage people to think about what is essential in their life and do away with the rest. Instead of doing more and more and more to get farther and farther ahead (whatever that means), I think a lot of people would actually be happier taking a downgrade on cultural wants and an upgrade on their soul’s needs. More time spent doing what fulfills our souls. Less time working at jobs we hate.
Another thing that has really served me is that I have pretty much always known what I want to do and then I’ve gone out and done it. My life has certainly not always been easy, but I can say I’ve never let authority figures or society dictate what I can and can’t do. I dreamed up my life and then reached out and grabbed it.
Externally we’ve harvested some wild foods this year and lots of different medicinal herbs. I’ve also really jumped into gardening this year and have been learning a lot about soil health and growing medicinal herbs.
Internally I’ve been learning about loving myself completely and the importance of nourishing myself both with thoughts and actions. I tend to be a go-go-go-go person and lately I’ve been living the art of simply being and filling my soul.
Where can people go to learn about you online?
I have a blog where I occasionally post herbal articles, recipes and other related information. www.methowvalleyherbs.blogspot.com
The bulk of what I do, herbally speaking, is on HerbMentor.com which is a subscription website run by the company, LearningHerbs.com. This is a website dedicated to herbal education and herbal community.
I contribute regularly to the community forums, write ebooks, articles and a variety of multi-media presentations ranging from plant walk videos, to anatomy and physiology for the herbalist to botany for the herbalist to an herbal glossary series.
And now, la piece de resistance….
Learn to make Yellow Dock Syrup. And find out what Yellow Dock actually is!