yerba nomadica

I am Chicana Herbalism

Carla FrankComment

Nomadica Apothecary is Chicana Herbalism in both philosophy and practice.

The natural healing traditions of the land were an early presence in my childhood. My first memories of herbs consisted of my great grandmother, Lupe, simmering fresh Yerba Buena, from our back yard in Phoenix, for tea – and of her son, my grandpa Angel Antonio Vargas, offering my cousins and I the mucilaginous innards of a barrel cactus while hiking through the mountains of the San Francisco Peaks in northern Arizona.

My most magical memories consist of running through the fields of our family’s original homestead in Sycamore Canyon, Arizona,while our parents yelled after us to watch for the snakes that hid the high grass. There was a bucket on a pulley that scooped fresh water from the river far below, freely roaming peacocks, and the one hundred year old adobe house that now still stands more firmly than the newer construction which housed my tío Mingo and tía Leonor.

Those are the summers that I remember best; where brown half naked children littered the fields – posing for a photograph by the well, slipping colorful beads onto the razor sharp horns of a devils claw (Proboscidea sp.), or resting under the shade of a pomegranate tree.

 

For me, Chicanismo carries with it an aspect of the Mestizo/a; mixed blood, intertwined histories, displacement.I embody both the conqueror and the conquerored.

...and yet, I find a home within it and despite of it. It is a sense of historical identity and the mindful adaptation of tradition. I give my friends a limpia from time to time, when they have left an insensitive lover or moved into a heavy house. I greet the day with white sage and blue cornmeal.

I call down the moon with song and a rattle.

I prefer fresh preparations of herbs because I can feel their life and vitality buzzing within. I consider the creasote and the saguaro, who shared the same upbringing of galloping dust storms and electrifying monsoons, as family of my own.

And still, I incorporate aspects of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine into my practice because their ancient wisdom also resonates with me. I recognize Vata/Pitta/Kapha in others and cross reference by checking pulse and tongue for indications of imbalance.

My Chicana herbalism is an inclusive and dynamic practice, rooted in my own understanding of my raíces, and connecting with others’ to make the whole stronger.

Still, nothing can stir me quite like the cry of a hawk above a lonely high-desert canyon, or the sound of cumbia from a passing car.