Conversations with Plants: The Path Back to Nature

Author(s) : Nikki Darrell

Conversations with Plants: The Path Back to Nature
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In some parts of the world, plant medicine is still taught at the kitchen table, by the cooking fire, or in the fields, passed down from parent to child and woven through the fabric of the culture. In many places it has been severely eroded, but it has not been lost. This book helps us reclaim and restore a hugely important part of our heritage: our plant medicine path.

Conversations with Plants reminds us of the intimate bond that has always existed between people and plants and encourages us to bring them back into our daily lives. It includes instructions on how to develop these connections by using essential oils, gardening and growing herbs, medicine making and gathering wild food.

It is an invitation to step into your own relationship with plants – their stories and meanings – feel into their medicine and understand how to work with them by bringing your own medicine into the conversation. It is for practitioners, students, and anyone wishing to deepen their knowledge of the green world.

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Julian Rutherford on 07/09/2020 14:38:01

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Conversations With Plants – The Path Back To Nature by Nikki Darrell

I have read and reviewed many books and have often seen the expression ‘Tour De Force’ and until now, none of the books concerned have totally lived up to what is implied by this description. If you are looking for a truly wholistic book on plant based medicine and all the associated aspects of both the study and use of botanicals, then this is it.

Nikki Darrell covers both the scientific aspects of herbal medicine, phytotherapy or naturopathy – and I use all three terms with an acknowledgement of their common ground and differences – and what could be termed the intuitive, experiential, emotional and motivational aspects of growing, understanding, appreciating and using plant based materials.

After this glowing introduction, which is heartfelt – a concept that is also explored in the book – I will get the two criticisms I have out of the way.

First, the excellent introduction to plant taxonomy, structure and anatomy would be greatly helped by some illustrations or diagrams that would help the reader to more readily visualise what the author was writing about and recognise those features when seen for real.

Second, although Nikki Darrell does reference both Latin and common names in the index, the very useful lists of plants associated with the various aspects of treatment in the body of the text would be greatly helped by a quick cross reference table, possibly as an appendix for those non-botanist types, such as myself.

Now, to the book itself. There is a significant amount of science, which is good, as it acts as an anchor for those who are fixed on the more mechanistic approach to herbalism. Darrell then, vary thoughtfully and convincingly introduces the concept that the user has an effect on both plants and the uses to which they are put. This is not at just a superficial level of ‘positive thoughts having positive effects’ but also offering an explanation as to why. It is plain from any reading of this book that Darrell possesses not only a vast amount of knowledge and experience, which is expressed in a readily understandable and accessible way, but also the wisdom and understanding of the human condition and its historic impact on nature and the need to reverse some of humanities worse excesses.

Darrell offers a model of the human condition which is both consistent and convincing, with more than a passing nod to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, whereby the individual has to develop through knowledge, experience and understanding if they are to achieve their (herbalist) potential.

So, this is the theory, now the practical aspects of the book. There are recipes for all aspects of producing ‘materia medica’ and sufficient lists of appropriate plants that can be incorporated to treat everything from stimulating the nervous system to diuretics, skin antiallergins to connective tissue repair.

No book of this nature would be complete without making reference to the various ‘energies’ associated with both parts of the human body and the processes that it undergoes, including the emotions, and Conversations With Plants is no exception. Again in a gentle and thoughtful manner Darrell does this in such a way as to lead the reader along a wholistic path – dare I say mind, body and spirit? - that, if followed with an open mind and heart, the reader will find as wondrous and fulfilling as any that they have ever undertaken.

In conclusion, this is not a ‘coffee table’ book that can be picked up, admired and put down but one that if read, understood and followed will lead the reader into a greater state of awarenesses of what it is to be human and how much ‘modern society’ has taken from us. This book truly is ‘A Path Back to Nature’.

Julian Rutherford