Welcome, friend, to this space. I hope it can be a place of warmth and nourishment for you.
There’s a pot of herb-flower tea on the table, raw mountain honey to drizzle in your cup, and nowhere to be anytime soon.
I’ll start by telling you a little bit about what we’re doing here.
I established the Atlas Apothecary a few years ago, something to compliment my journey discovering the art of healing with plants in my new home of Fes, Morocco.
I arrived in Fes from the UK, with a yearning for connection to the land and its bounty that had been germinating inside me since early childhood.
I realised I was suffering from a lack of connection to the Real and the Whole.
I suffered because of what I ate, I suffered because of the way I spent my energy, and because of the way I attempted to follow a path that did not work according to my own natural rhythms.
Over my years in Fes, I’ve learnt a few important things. I’m still very much in the midst of this path, but here’s what I’ve observed so far.
Firstly, that it’s all about food. I came to Fes to study herbal medicine and healing, thinking that this was something ‘done’ by a practitioner to a patient, with a medicine concocted under mysterious conditions.
I soon realised that instead, it was something mothers did in their kitchens, serving it up on a big plate in the salon.
So, I learnt about healing cooking. And a bit of herbal medicine that goes with it, too!
Secondly, I realised that it was all about connections. The earth, connecting to the skies, and we humans, centres around which these connections were being made.
This taught me to be patient with myself and my own natural rhythms and cycles. It taught me to rest when nature asked me to. It taught me to seek answers in the sky as well as in the clay of the earth.
It taught me a bit about processes. From a seed being planted, to a plate of food being served. It taught me to observe it all. It taught me to communicate to plants, to give greetings to the moon, and to observe the movements of the stars in order to understand.
Thirdly, I learnt about Woman. I observed a tradition of women’s craft that strengthened and sustained me. Boiling copper pots and time spent waiting patiently for a bottle of rose water to mature.
I saw how Woman shape shifted. From the human world to the plant world. I saw how women under pressure, unable to occupy physical spaces, could evolve into beings who instead occupied spiritual territories. And thrived.
I let myself feel again. I let myself ‘be’.
And on this journey, I’ve learnt, in a thousand ways I didn’t expect, what healing really ‘is’. Not by gaining skills, or by following recipes, but by slowly, simply, allowing myself to be healed myself.
My own healing has been the true ‘knowledge’ I came here seeking.
This, I believe, is knowledge that should be open to everyone. And that’s what I want to do here. Offer it up.
It is knowledge for a community. It is about sisterhood. Not that the herbalists were always women, but that the women were always herbalists.
So, I welcome you again to the Atlas Apothecary Sourcebook, an online space for the discussion of plant craft, healing cooking, the sacred feminine and the journey inwards.
I’ve designed this to be a treasure chest for you to delve into and take what you need. A bookshelf where you can exchange texts. A fortress of healing for weary souls. A source of sweet sustenance on your journey.
From the Hebrides to the Sahara, through blog posts, translations, interviews, reviews and creative writing – I hope you can find something that speaks to you.
Pour yourself a cup of tea, and settle in.
Here, I’m seeking a band of friends to take this journey with me. For collaborations, conversations or concoctions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Come, learn and share with me. I offer workshops on herbal distillation in the heart of the medina of Fes, Morocco. For details, email me at email@example.com
Contributors and Photos: Miriam Hicklin, unless otherwise stated