As I type I am emailing Asia about a custom concoction from her magical shop. Asia is one of those people you gravitate to because of the way she lives and leads her life, this was the case when I stumbled across her blog Woolgathering and Wildcrafting. She is the physical manifestation of a healer with her organic creations and kind personality. I had the fortune to ask her about her journey into herbalism, light, and interviewing this lovely creature who puts her heart and soul into her budding foray. Take a gander at her shop the majority is grown and harvested by her and heal yourself (or treat yourself) to nature’s bounty. I am testing my patience for that White Pine Honey only available in Fall/Winter.
Creator, Concoctress & Herbalist
One Willow Apothecaries
I am the creator of One Willow Apothecaries, a small Appalachian-grown business that offers handmade and gluten-free herbal medicine. Named for the weeping willow my grandfather planted for me when I was born, One Willow is a singular devotion of love. I am also the muse behind Woolgathering & Wildcrafting, a blog detailing the two passions that shape my days. [Woolgathering: the act of daydreaming, the gathering of thoughts and dreams as one might collect fallen tufts of wool. Wildcrafting: the harvesting of herb, root, flower or inspiration from the wilds].
What projects are you currently working on/will be working on?
Lately I’ve been daydreaming about publishing a book—a collection of herb writing, poetry, photography and recipes for living a sweeter life. Next spring I’ll be moving farther out into the countryside. I plan to soak up that delicious alone-ness with many books and long afternoons roaming the hills of my mind. As always, I am constantly thinking about new medicinal concoctions. In the future, I’m looking to focus on more energetic elixirs, allies for healing during great emotional states, moments of transition, and transformative shifts of spirit. Next year I’ll be helping to create and debut a gorgeous herbal education distance-learning course for the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine. I’m excited about bringing this knowledge farther out into the world!
My love of nature, herbalism and apothecary came from…someplace I cannot name.
The recognition of this love arrived during a very difficult time in my life. I was in the midst of a serious healing crisis and a seemingly endless maze of chronic pain. Inside my body it felt like everything was falling apart. Outside, the world was always becoming more whole. Nature was my solace. The sicker I got, the more I explored the underground stream of meaning, both within myself and beneath the world, in a way that forced me to redefine my concept of medicine. I needed answers, so I looked to the mysteries. I began to realize that everything I needed for healing was already around me. I fell in love with trees, held close counsel with my dreams, and sought out holistic practitioners of medicine. I learned how to truly listen to what my body and spirit were trying to communicate. Slowly but surely, I began to heal. One of the final pieces to fall into place was the realization that I had Celiac disease. This changed everything. My health went from a constantly slipping slope to something I could actually point to with pride. When I arrived on the doorstep of herbal medicine I was dismayed to find that most commercial tinctures are infused with grain alcohol (much of which is made with non-organic and gmo ingredients). And so, I began to make my own. This was the first seed of One Willow.
My work schedule is a mixture of pure joy and serious tedium.
I grow a huge garden of medicinal herbs and spend at least one glorious day a week wildcrafting and wandering the woods. I make medicine in the wee hours of the night, before breakfast and anytime I can find a moment! I develop new classes and workshops, often in the quiet darkness before bed when I can’t sleep, and I push myself to say yes to every opportunity to teach. This, all of this, I love. Then there are the hours emailing, driving to the post office, figuring out sales tax, and endlessly reorganizing my small workspace. This, is not so much fun. I think part of becoming a graceful human being, however, is learning how to love the mundane. I am also fortunate enough to work and teach for the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, which has been such a fateful blessing.
First, I have a feeling. A resonant nudge deep inside of me that says “yes” (or perhaps, “oui” if it’s feeling Parisian). Sometimes I simply hold the names or images of all the herbs or essences in my mind at once, substituting one or the other, until something energetically clicks into place. Like a silent bell, ringing. Of course, I am always observing how others formulate and studying traditional herb combinations, but the ultimate decision seems to come from a place before words. Often times I feel like my formulas or blends have already asked to be made, and I am simply trying to follow the finesse of their delicate directions.
I think about plants and flowers, the spirit of the world and the purpose of my life on a daily basis. I write poetry, ask for guidance, give gratitude, and consult the stars. I work constantly, and often feel as if I’m being propelled down a mysteriously dim, yet destined, path. I make time to camp out in the woods and congregate with good friends. I am a part of an incredible community of people here in the Asheville area. My friends are kind, compassionate, conscientious and seriously badass. Some of my closest friends live off the grid, canning meat, collecting berries, building beautiful homes and processing animal skins into the most gorgeous buckskin clothing you’ve ever seen. I am constantly inspired by my community, not only its individual members, but by its closeness and communal dreaming of a better, more sustainable world. I am blessed to share a home with one of my best friends and serious soul brother. Staying in with him on a Friday evening is a real treat. We relish our time together, blending banana ice cream, picking tarot cards and coming up with new dance moves in on our tiny retro-tiled kitchen.
I absolutely cherish tea. One of my favorite things is to go to my apothecary and select herbs based on the whims of the moment: the smell in the air, the feeling I woke up with that morning, the conversations of friends at the dinner table, the season, or the hour. Creating synergy between herbs and water is like composing something akin to a symphony. One Willow’s tea blends all arose from common mixtures I make myself! Long Day Done is a direction translation of my favorite go-to tea combination for the close of a tiring day. My most adored tea herbs include: nettles, tulsi, anise hyssop, cardamom, chaga and whole vanilla beans.
5 Things that Heal me
- Tulsi tea
- Swimming in wild water
- Remembering my dreams
- a Clean kitchen and the whole evening to cook
What do you find beautiful and/or inspirational?
I live in the United Sates and it is a new place, still trying to figure out how to forgive itself and reconcile it’s inexhaustible beauty and indescribable wounds. Of all the places I have travelled to in this country, a handful are burnt indelibly in my mind: the Olympic peninsula and the Grand Tetons, Route 1 and the Blue Ridge Parkway, the amber expanse of Northern New Mexico and the endless lakes of Minnesota.
In 5 years I want to be reveling in the beauty of my life.
A big garden planned with many generations in mind. A fresh stream running across the land I call home and the time to linger with both feet in its cold flow. A shelf for every tincture bottle, herb, book and stone. A balanced existence full of home-cooked meals, fulfilling travel and lots and lots of time to wander the woods without aim. A life partner who inspires me and an ever-blooming understanding of love. Continuing to work and live as healer, in new incarnations of purpose and place in this world. Pets! Poetry! Maybe children on the way…
Dream vision board, what would your ideal day consist of:
One piece of advice is to find what makes you come alive
What allows the days to feel golden, your skin precious and new. Find your passions and cherish them like raw stones, for they are the guideposts to your most sacred life. You are meant to be fulfilled. You are meant to experience great joy…rhapsody. You are here to give the gift of yourself to the world, and that begins with finding the small delights that coaxes your inspiration into flame. When you are able to inhabit this terrain you come to know yourself in the most passionate way. You arrive at the impeccable and everlasting understanding that you, truly, have the power to create the life of your dreams.