The Wise Woman Tradition, focusing on integration and nourishment, and insisting on attention to uniqueness and interconnectedness, is a new way to heal that is also the most ancient healing way known. A way that follows a spiral path, a give-away dance of nourishment, change, and self-love.
Iyar is about healing. As a society, we’ve lost contact with our ancestral healing traditions, which writer Susun S. Weed describes as “The Wise Woman Tradition.” This is the healing tradition of our mothers and grandmothers, of Sarah, Rachel, Leah, and Rivka. It is a tradition that lives in all of us and can be re-awoken, if we listen closely and live out its teachings.
The Wise Woman Tradition is about nourishing ourselves, rather than about detoxing or cutting things out. When we talk about nourishing, we’re talking about adding elements that enrich, grow, and heal our bodies, hearts, and minds. In the Wise Woman Tradition, we ask, “What is needed? What are our bodies, hearts, and minds asking for?”
This tradition relies on a combination of indigenous plants, foods, Western medicine, and deep inward curiosity and reckoning. More than anything else, it asks us to surrender to our intuition about what’s needed, and truly listen to what’s being asked for.
I spent last year in Israel trying to heal my relationship to this place, a relationship that’s complex and sometimes painful. Though I was born there, I grew up in California and have felt a deep yearning to figure out what role I’m supposed to play for this land, and what role it is supposed to play for me. During my time in Israel, I connected to a wise woman in my line, my grandmother (z”l), by translating her autobiography from Hebrew into English. I deepened my spiritual and prayer practices, and spent lots of time outdoors.
One of the most powerful practices in my healing process was working with a teacher in the Wise Woman Tradition to develop my intuition about the medicinal uses of the weeds and wildflowers around me. Our intuition becomes stronger the more we use and rely on it. For me, developing intuition about how to use plants medicinally to treat physical and emotional ailments has strengthened my trust in myself and the Universe around me. When I say “the Universe,” I mean whatever power makes the sun rise, the seeds bloom, and the rain fall; whatever it is that’s holding this whole thing together.
Go on a walk outdoors. Notice which plants you’re drawn to. When you feel a strong pull to a particular plant, stop and really take some time with it. What is its stage of life? What are the textures of its leaves, flowers, and fruit? What do these different parts of the plant smell like when you crush them between your fingers?
Then ask yourself, What are the qualities of this plant? What would I use it for, and how? How do I think it would nourish me? Trust what comes to mind. The self-doubt may be loud, but listen to your instincts; try not to immediately assume you’re wrong.
If you’re feeling particularly curious, you can try to identify the plant using an app (Plant-O-Matic covers most plants in North America) or by searching plant identification websites. The more specific you can be about the location where you found the plants, the better. Be aware most plants have a variety of medicinal purposes, and no two people react to any one plant in quite the same way.