The Enchantment of Western Herbal Medicine: Herbalists, Plants, and Nonhuman Agency

Author(s) : Guy Waddell

The Enchantment of Western Herbal Medicine: Herbalists, Plants, and Nonhuman Agency
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Book Details

  • Publisher : Aeon Books
  • Published : January 2020
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 331
  • Category :
    Herbal Medicine
  • Catalogue No : 93356
  • ISBN 13 : 9781911597568
  • ISBN 10 : 1911597566
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Through interviews with British herbalists, the importance of hidden experiences of meetings with plants is explored alongside how such ‘enchantment’ has influenced the narrative of their lives. Some herbalists have visible entryways into studying, such as personal experience of taking herbal medicine, a search for a new career or a love of nature. Other entryways are more hidden, with many noting ‘crossings’ and ‘callings’ with plants at a young age. This sensual ability of herbs raises questions about the agency of living plants and of herbal medicines, and about how the relationship between herbalists and plants may be reconceived. Meetings with plants and herbal medicines allow herbalists to draw easily from a diverse range of influences that others may see as incommensurable.

“This fascinating, original and challenging book convincingly explores modern-day herbalists understanding of their place in the complementary health world, against the backdrop of encroaching professionalisation, legitimacy and scientism. In his case study interviews with herbalists, Guy Waddell draws our attention to the enchanting power of plants and their agentic qualities. In his quest for greater understanding of their sensual power, the author rejects the conventional modernity/rationalisation thesis, seen both in the sensual- affective energy that herbalists draw upon and in the ontological implications of human/nonhuman crossings. This book is an excellent contribution to our understanding of Western herbal medicine and contemporary thought.“ - Dr Stuart McClean, PhD. Associate Professor in Public Health (Health and Wellbeing), University of the West of England

“In the field of herbal medicine, few seem to know their history and the lessons it teaches us. In The Enchantment of Western Herbal Medicine, Dr Guy Waddell not only provides the reader with a detailed history of the trials and triumphs of British Phytotherapy, but also travels into uncharted territory looking at how herbalists come to find their passion for plants and the use of them to help heal others. This is a new area of research and exploring the entryways to practice though interviews and clinician narratives is both a fascinating undertaking and a unique way of understanding our own motivations and experiences as herbalists.“ - David Winston, RH(AHG), DSc (hc), author of Adaptogens; Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief

“Both compelling and challenging, Guy Waddell's unique book is filled with the voices of herbalists and makes essential reading for anyone on their own journey into herbalism or those interested in human- plant relationships. Here is a much-needed roadmap for all who are exploring the diverse choices between ancient and modern, science and tradition, evidence and intuition, and human and nonhuman agency. My congratulations to the author for so brilliantly signposting the fundamental unity that resides at the heart of herbal practice.“ - Phil Deakin. President of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists

About the Author(s)

Guy Waddell is a lecturer in the Department of Life Sciences at the University of Westminster, London. His background is in social sciences and in herbal medicine. He has been a practitioner of Western herbal medicine for over 15 years, and practises in South London.

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