Learning how to 'heal' from the old ways came at a young age for me, age 12. At that time, I was fostered along with eight other girls aged 6 to 16. We had two sets of foster parents: Judy and her husband Bill were our regular parents, and Sue and Jim were also there and took over when Judy and Bill were away.
We were a self-sustaining farm; we butchered our own meat; we had chickens for eggs and meat; a smoke house; and we made almost everything by hand - from cottage cheese and yoghurt, to our own clothes! We had two huge root cellars where we stored our vegetables and home canned goods - and we had three fabulous gardens, with every fruit and vegetable we could possibly grow, and another garden for nothing but herbs! There were two large greenhouses and a huge shed which I called 'the hanging shack' - where all the herbs we harvested went to be hung in bundles in the rafters, or were put on racks or drying screens fashioned from two saw horses with framed screens set on top. I loved being in that hanging shack whenever I got the chance! I would sit for hours and smell all the different herbs as they dried. My first experience of making something with herbs was when I watched Sue making tinctures in the kitchen one day - and from that moment on, I was hooked.
Sue was amazing when it came to healing. She had a stack of binders and old leather-bound books full of recipes that had been handed down in her family for generations. A lot of what she did also came from her head and instinct. No matter what the ailment: menstrual cramps, fevers, colds, she always had a natural remedy.
I was amazed at the healing powers of these varied plants. If treating an open, bleeding wound, Sue would get fresh, wet herbs straight off the bush, or out of the ground, and place them directly in the wound to stop the bleeding. Sometimes she would steep herbs in simmering water; grind them; and smear them on a strip of cloth or muslin to cover a huge bruise - which would invariably then fade within a matter of minutes. Her treatments would leave me amazed and I just wanted to soak up as much information as I could from her about all the wonderful herbs and plants that she used.
To be continued......