I believe it was spearmint. We were harvesting at the Pharm with dull serrated knives that could barely cut a celery stalk. Somehow a fellow apprentice managed to toss said tool into her left eye. After a few hours of eye rest, she luckily was totally fine. This induced endless eye jokes of course, but also brought to the surface that the instigator of said eye jokes, also endured a trauma to his left eye. I was listening to the esteemed Herbal Highway podcast and a man called in. A dentist used anesthesia of which he was allergic, inducing a heart attack and consequential blindness in.. you got it… his left eye. In college, our yoga club would stare into each others left eyes for 15 minutes at a time. It’s the portal into your soul our teacher told us. The left eye connects to the right side of the brain. The right side of the brain is the ruler of intuition, creativity, and holistic thinking. Somehow, I have encountered many people who have had odd encounters pertaining to their left eyes.
With my statistically unreasonable number of left eye relations, it seems to be no surprise or coincidence that at the age of 24, I was diagnosed with a cataract in my left eye. Are you addicted to steroids, the doctor asked. Nope. The doctor concluded that this was just some freak, random occurrence. Lens replacement surgery was the only thing he recommended. Stubborn, especially when it comes to allopathic medicine, I started researching alternative approaches. A podcast, naturopath, a timely delivery, and some strong intuition led me to the use of cayenne. The same naturopathic doctor recommended an article about carnosine eye drops and a homeopathic remedy. I pretty much immediately disregarded the latter with a skepticism of the more dilute the preparation, the more powerful theory that drives homeopathy. Instead, I went with the drops that had a skant scientific-ish write up in a magazine entitled Aging Matter (I’m way past the possibility of being offended by this) and started to formulate my own ‘Bye, bye, bye Cataract” tincture.
One of our classes at the Pharm was titled Dreaming with Plants, how plants can help us with our ~ dream work~. We have work to do in our dreams! Our subconscious is trying to teach us things! Plants can help us invoke and remember these dreams and also appear to us in them when the time is right but we often have to invite them by either placing them in our sleeping space or ingesting them in any number of ways. I vividly remember my first dream that involved plants with Lady Mugwort under my pillow. I was at a hospital inside of an airport with a huge warehouse door opening to a natural oasis outside. I was sick. A few people were surrounding my bed. A familiar doctor strongly recommended a homeopathic remedy to me. I couldn’t recall the name of it. I often miss the tagline of my own dreams.
Right before the New Year, I was touring Longwood Gardens with good friends and fellow slow paced plant nerds. I was ranting about my obscure left eye cataract and consequent herbal treatments among rose bushes and succulent xmas trees. Everyone loves it when I tell them that I put cayenne pepper in my eye. Mid sentence, I turned and locked eyes with a soft leaved plant with a precisely placed label, Dusty Miller. This was the plant that both the naturopathic doctor/ teacher and doctor in my dream recommended. The one that I had immediately disregarded.
As I search for these drops and drink an eye health tea (try to make that sound sexy) at the apothecary, I’m basking in the many ways plants communicate with us. Through that gut intuition feeling, dream work, (my favorite) jumping in front of us and screaming HEY YOU!, and multitudes of other levels I have yet to unlock.
A couple of weeks ago in another dream, I woke up late for my last day working at the Herb Pharm. I was in my childhood home on the east coast and calculated that it would take about 3 hours to drive to the Herb Pharm (on the west coast). I decided to forego breakfast and dressing in proper farm attire in hopes of getting to the Pharm before our lunch break. I drove like a banchee and saw many weird west coast/ east coast mashups along the way. I woke up in a panic, how could I be late for my last day of an experience that I valued so deeply? I soon realized that I would never have a true last day. The lessons from the Pharm will continue to unfold for the rest of my life and unite with my path into herbalism that is just beginning.