Sophia Rose: Returning to the Earth
I first met Sophia Rose in 2014,
at the El Cosmico Hotel in Marfa Texas to attend her natural medicines workshop. She was the first person to use their brand new Mongolian yurt, where she hosted a small gathering of about 14 people, all called to learn more about plants and the gifts they offer. Sophia began her journey into herbalism and medicine in 2009, and has since developed her own apothecary La Abeja Herbs, as well as Garden Party, her new community-oriented offering.
Sophia has facilitated the curiosity and enlivening of new awakenings for many others, and it seems hers is becoming increasingly refined. The topics of colonialism and capitalism seem to be a theme for those experiencing rebirth as an earthling, hearing the wounded song of the land and wishing to understand in order to mutually heal.
She recently wrote this passage that felt important to share. It seems that many people are experiencing an awakening - a calling. I hope it inspires you as much as it did me.
My name is Sophia Rose, and I am Medicine Person.
I am an herbalist and a writer and a fierce defender of the wild soul of this world that we share. I work in plants and songs and stories and dreams. I listen to the voices in the trees and the rivers and the flowers in springtime and sometimes I share what they tell me, here and in other spaces.
I began my Medicine Path close to a decade ago as a budding herbalist with little knowledge of what lay in store for me. I did not know that the plants would transform me completely, making me one of their own. When I began Herb School, many many years ago, I was bright eyed bushy-tailed and more than a little idealistic. I wanted to know, like so many people do, which herb to give for which ailment. I wanted to know how I could heal a cough or an infection. I did those things and many more besides, but they were small tokens when compared to the immense gifts that the plants offered to me so generously.
They quickly showed me the layers of reality that I’d previously been unable to see. They revealed to me the complexity of their own medicine and in so doing taught me about the complexity that also exists within all things, including me, including you. I humbled myself to their wisdom completely and unquestioningly. I had found my family, my teachers, my elders, and my friends in the mountains and the meadows, the deserts and the forests. Through knowing them, I had found my home and I found myself.
Working with plants over the last decade has been the most important experience of my life. They have given me everything. They have taught me everything. The plants have told me that we take the medicine so we can become the medicine. They have shown me how to do this: how to use my words and stories and songs and presence to offer healing and ancient wisdom. I am still new in this medicine way, but I am showing up and I am saying yes to this path. There is always more to learn, there are always new medicines which find their way into our worlds, but in order to honor the medicines we do know, we eventually have to, ultimately, let them go and embody their wisdom in our own lives.
Which brings me to this: With the explosion of interest in plant medicine over the last few years, I’ve witnessed a lot of well-meaning folks unintentionally inflicting harm not only on native plant populations but also the indigenous peoples who have been in relationship with those plants since time immemorial as well as the spirit of the land of which both the plants and the people are a part. Watching this has broken my heart in ways I cannot even begin to express in this space.
All of us have been so deeply wounded by colonialism and capitalism, that until we take steps to actively deconstruct these oppressive forces *within our own psyches* we will continue to perpetuate the harm they cause. This is why I have not taught publicly much over the last couple of years. Because I wanted to deeply consider that my teachings held the power to do more harm than good when taken out of context or used by well-meaning folks unconsciously operating from an colonialist mindset.
Additionally, plant medicine can be used to suppress the very real symptoms of exhaustion many of experience due to life under capitalism and which would otherwise force us to rest. I don’t support using herbs in this way. Even seemingly abundant plants can be over-harvested if we do not practice care and reciprocity in our gathering of them. And often herbs are not what is actually needed for healing but rather it is food, rest, movement connection and ultimately, the healing of the larger culture that will heal the us as individuals.
All of this, and so much more, are the reasons that I started Garden Party. Because within each of us lives a Medicine Person who knows how to work with the plants, who knows how to honor all of life, who knows how to walk in a good way. The work is not so much learning what the plants do, or how they can help us, but rather it is dismantling internalize systems of oppression. It is healing the traumas we have inherited from so many generations of life out of balance. It is remembering who we are and why we are here, so that we as humans can step back into relationship with the living world around us and become the stewards and allies we were meant to be. We’ve got a lot of healing to do but I believe that we have to do it together. I will be there for you, if you be will there for me.