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Herbal Healer: What's the Wise Woman Tradition?

Updated: Apr 27

I am a hedgerow herbalist, and green witch, of the Wise Woman Tradition  © Susun S. Weed. Susun is one of my herbal mentors, without her knowledge, wisdom and teachings my transition through womanhood into my crone years would have looked very different.

Here is an excerpt from her book Healing Wise.

“The Wise Woman tradition is invisible. Without healers, without diseases, without cures, without certificates, without guarantees, it exists. It has no rules, no right answers, no promise of life eternal. The Wise Woman tradition is a spiral of uniqueness, everchanging, like a woman, steeped in and rising out of the blood mysteries, the wisdom of womb-ones, the knowledge of those who hold their blood inside.

The Wise Woman tradition honours the ordinary and avoids the exotic, works simply and steers clear of complication, accepts failure, chaos, and the eternal void with humour instead of fear and dread. The Wise Woman tradition is compassionate and heart-centred. It honours the Earth. It is local and ecological and urges us to use our dooryard weeds instead of the latest miracle herb from far away.

The Wise Woman tradition maintains that health is best defined as flexibility and that deviations from normal (that is, problems) offer us an opportunity to reintegrate parts of ourselves that we have cast out, emerging healed/wholed/holy. Illness is understood as an integral part of life and self-growth, with healer, patient and nature as co-participants in the healing process.

This is in marked contrast to other traditions of healing. In the Scientific tradition the doctor is highly visible and the patient is reduced to a body part or a disease designation. In the Heroic or Holistic tradition, the healer is the one who knows the right way to do things and the patient must follow the rules in order to get well. Most so-called alternative medicine comes from Heroic traditions, which emphasize fasting, purification, colonic cleansing, rigid dietary rules, and the use of rare botanicals in complicated formulae. Metaphysical healing also is applied that way: It views illness as a failure rather than a natural and potentially constructive process.

The Wise Woman Tradition reminds us that wellness and illness are not polarities. They are part of the continuum of life. We are constantly renewing ourselves, cell by cell, second by second, every minute of our lives. Problems, by their very nature, can facilitate deep spiritual and symbolic renewal, leading us naturally into expanded, more complete ways of thinking about and experiencing ourselves.

The Wise Woman Tradition encourages us to work towards good health from the inside out. And to remember that our healing choices influence not only ourselves but the entire planet.”

By Susun S. Weed

As an addition, the Wise Woman tradition is not exclusive to women – it is a way of being, of connecting to nature, healing, ourselves, our families and communities, and the world around us, people of all genders can connect to and work with the Wise Woman Way.

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