The Druid Herbalist

An ongoing journey with the healing power of plants


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Emotional Freedom Technique

As part of my Herbcraft Diploma course, we work with a holistic approach to healing. We work not only with herbs, but with the mental and spiritual aspects of our selves as well.  I’ve always believed that you can’t treat the body without treating the mind and soul, and vice versa. In fact, they are not three separate things, mind body and spirit, but part of a whole that needs attention and healing.

Throughout this month we are working with Emotional Freedom Technique in the spiritual aspect of the course (other aspects this month are anatomy and physiology of the nervous system, and working with the plant realm).  Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT, uses a system of tapping on energy meridians found throughout the body much like acupuncture does, just without the needles.  This blog post doesn’t go into the specifics of EFT – if you’d like to learn more, there is a great little book HERE that can teach you the basics.

After lighting some candles and incense, I sat down and tried EFT for the first time. Following the guidelines, I explored an issue that I have had going on nine months now. As a person who meditates regularly, I have a fairly clear view of my emotions and my behaviour, how they work together and how I can change them to live a more harmonious life. But there are always things that try us, that test us, that push us to our limits, whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual.

I decided to try EFT on an anger issue that I have had with someone. I’ve been releasing that anger for months now, and some days it is gone, other days it is back when they have done/said something to intentionally hurt/frustrate/undermine me. I have not retaliated, only worked to preserve my integrity and try to find the honourable solution in this situation while keeping boundaries intact. Yet I could still feel anger, simmering within me, and I knew that I had to find some other way to release it. I have sat with this anger for days, weeks, months, wondering if perhaps this anger was something else entirely. It had begun to invade my psyche. Though I had my doubts about EFT, and about whether I really wanted to “tap away” my emotions until they were freed, I had to at least try it before I made up my mind about it.

And so, there I sat, incense drifting about me, Brighid’s likeness before me, twin green candles lit in their silver holders, all my other altar items and fetishes spread out before me. Taking a few breaths, I calmed and grounded myself before I began. I then thought of the phrasing of the issue, and decided upon “Even though I have this anger, I love and deeply accept myself”.

I started the tapping routine, working my way down my face and torso and across my hands. After the first round, I sat for a moment, feeling the energy moving around in my body, kind of buzzing with the flow, yet feeling very grounded. I summoned an image of the person in my mind, and I couldn’t feel much anger towards this person. I envisioned them doing all the things that they had previously done to hurt me, and it seemed as if my anger was far away, too far really to reach. There was still a slight twinge, so I did a second round and checked the results. This time, when I looked deeply within, I saw that the anger was an overlying issue: betrayal lay beneath the anger. And so I worked with the betrayal.

I did two more rounds, stating “Even though I have this betrayal, I love and deeply accept myself”. At the end of these two rounds, my energy was still buzzing, but I could feel an even deeper emotion, wrapped around my heart chakra. Here lay sadness, sadness at the betrayal. So I worked a final round, saying “Even though I feel this sadness, I love and deeply accept myself”.

Sitting still and silent afterwards, I reached for the anger, for the betrayal, for the sadness, and while the first two were now out of reach, there was still a tinge of sadness left within, which led to even deeper feelings of compassion towards this person that had hurt me so. The sadness was not gone, but instead transformed. Having worked with compassion for many years, it was nice to see this transformation occur, as I had not been able to really do it in any other way. Feeling sorry for someone and feeling compassion are two different matters entirely.

Now, when I think of this person, who has spent so long trying to hurt me, to undermine me, to anger me, I feel compassion flowing instead of anger, betrayal or sadness. I see their grief, their hurt, their suffering that causes them to bring it out into the world. The compassion comes and goes in waves, sometimes in a cool, loving wave, sometimes as a small ripple of compassion, but still it is there, transformed into an emotion and way of being that creates less suffering in the world, for everyone.

I wasn’t sure whether EFT would work. I didn’t know if tapping it away would be better than dealing with it head on, sitting with the emotion as I had previously done, meditating with it, holding it deeply and finding love and compassion for myself and the other. I think, with time, I could have achieved the same results with meditation as I did with EFT, but EFT seemed to be a quicker release, cutting across boundaries where the slow and steady method might even come to a standstill.

I don’t’ think it’s a cure-all, and I don’t think it is for everyone. I was sceptical about it working, but I was willing to give it a go. I don’t know if it would work for someone who didn’t believe in it at all, who wasn’t willing to even keep an open mind. All I have to go on right now is my own experience, and that of my teacher and fellow students. My doubts are now gone, and I will continue to use EFT, seeing how it affects me throughout the months to come. Will the anger come back? Will it bite me on the backside? Or has the transformation from anger to betrayal, and betrayal to sadness, sadness to compassion well and truly worked?

Only time will tell.

It is not a substitute for daily meditation, for self-examination, for facing the truths about yourself and others. It will not change your behaviour overnight unless you really well and truly want to change your behaviour. We spend so much of our time and energy trying to change the behaviour of others – why not focus on ourselves instead, living the example? It is often harder to change ourselves than to change others.

Live with an open mind, and with an open heart. We’re all in this crazy thing called life together.


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Summer Madness

hawthornThings have been so busy here – I apologise for not posting as often as I’d like!  This month I am studying the heart and circulatory system, and herbs that benefit and aid both.  It’s a lot of hard work, going back and re-learning all my human anatomy and biology from over 25 years back when I was in high school! Thinking about blood, veins, arteries and the like always makes me a bit queasy, but I got through it 🙂

I went out yesterday and collected hawthorn, elderflower and birch leaves. I’ve made a hawthorn tincture with half of the harvest straight away, and am drying the other half of the leaves and flowers in my airing cupboard.  Put the flowers and leaves in a blender and cover with brandy, mix it up and then place in a jar in a cool, dark place for 1 month.  Strain and use as directed.

Hawthorn is such a wonderful plant, medicinally and spiritually. Medicinally, it is a heart tonic, a beta blocker (regulates rhythm and blood pressure), the best herb for circulation, protects the heart muscle, prevents heart attacks, helps promote sleep and is good for heartache (of all kinds).  Special care must be taken with hawthorn is one is one any sort of heart medication – seek out a qualified herbalist if you intend to use this and are on any medication!

Spiritually, it is the favourite fairy tree in folklore.  It is also one of the ogham trees in Druidry.  For a good blog post about the spiritual aspects of hawthorn, please see my friend Danu Forest’s post on SageWoman HERE.  (Note: she states that it is unlucky to bring hawthorn blossom into the house, and I would agree if you are using it simply as decoration – it’s always much better on the tree anyway, and good for bees and other wildlife. However, as a herbcraft practitioner, it is perfectly safe to bring indoors to use in your work.)

The elderflowers I am drying to use with some dried oak leaves I collected a couple of weeks ago, for a tea to treat coughs.  In the autumn when the elderberries are out I will collect those as well and add them to the mix.

The birch leaves I collected for a birch leaf tea, which is a good all around body tonic and quite refreshing.  The bark and sap are also really good spring tonics, but it is too late to collect the sap – it should be done before the leaves come out.  When collecting the bark, do not “ring” the trunk of the tree – instead collect some twigs and branches and use the inner bark of these.

Note: when collecting tree leaves, do so before the summer solstice, as afterward they may contain too many plant alkaloids.  reference: Ellen Evert Hopman, A Druid’s Herbal of Sacred Tree Medicine.