The Sensory Herbal Handbook by The Seed Sistas (Fiona Heckels and Karen Lawton).
Watkins Publishing 2019 ISBN 978-1-78678-211-3
My library shelves are almost collapsing under the weight of herbal medicine books. Some are on plant chemistry and constituents; some are on folk uses; some are on medicine making; some are on plant identification. I reference them constantly and certainly get a whole lot more pleasure from looking things up in a book than any amount of internet searching. You can imagine, then, the enormous pleasure of diving into The Sensory Herbal Handbook by The Seed Sistas (Fiona Heckels and Karen Lawton).
This is a book written by herbalists for herbalists, but also for anyone with a love of plants and the wild woods. As a practical guide for connecting to the plant spirits and the cycles and rhythms of the natural world, and as an informative guide to self care with plants, this book draws the reader into a wonderful world filled with plant wisdom.
The Sensory Herbal Handbook teaches us five core tools for deepening our understanding of plants: sensory observation, enhancing our intuition, interpretation of the intuitive experience, divining the plant characters and personalities, and using rituals, recipes and poetry (what the authors call the plant dream) to express these findings. The book is structured to follow the seasons and explores herbs, related conditions, seasonal rituals and practices, harvesting and even cooking with herbs.
Instead of trying to cover every known constituent and every known action of dozens of herbs, filling the book with factoids and abstract referencing, the authors have chosen rather to use just a handful of herbs, 16 in total, but to demonstrate how to understand them deeply, and then how to apply that learning model to any other herb in the future. This is an empowering approach with a focus on experiential learning and deep knowledge.
There are so many standouts for me in this book. The table of tastes, associated elements, chemical constituents amd indications for use is especially helpful. The plant meditation practices are profound. The poetry is inspiring. The recipes sound delicious. And all of this is lovingly illustrated with lush photography, beautiful line drawings and clear diagrams.
Truly this is a book to inspire, to cherish, to share and to use. Herbalists and plant lovers the world over will find simple and practical techniques for enhancing their understanding of herbs. Artists, poets, gardeners and cooks as well as herbalists will all find much of interest in this lovely volume. I highly recommend it.