The Sacred Art and Science of Wildcrafting

Wildcrafting: Wildcraft herbs responsibly


Wildcraf Herbs Responsibly

As herbalists define it, wildcrafting describes appropriate methods and ethical behaviors that are applied when gathering medicinal plants and mushrooms in their natural environment. Thankfully, there is growing consumer awareness and demand for high integrity, accountable behavior and practices associated with wildcrafting. Identifying and meeting these demands is of the highest priority for Clearpath Herbals.

Scientific and medicinal awareness of wildcrafting:

  • How to accurately identify medicinal plants
  • Which parts of the plants are medicinal
  • What time is best for maximum potency, both seasonally and by lunar influence
  • What method of gathering is best for optimizing medicinal vitality

Wildcraft herbs with environmental and ecological awareness

What plants are ethically sound to pick; that is, knowing specifically which plants are endangered, at-risk, or ‘to watch’, as well as what appropriate substitutions — abundant, naturalized, alien, invasive species — are available; what environments are off-limits for gathering due to contamination or pollution from a multiplicity of sources; how to gather plants leaving a minimal ‘footprint’ while also taking sustainable measures to ensure the continued health of plant populations and the ecosystems from which they are gathered.

Our Philosophy on Wildcrafting

At Clearpath Herbals we wildcraft and/or cultivate as many of the plants for our apothecary as possible. Our wildcrafting calendar is based on the needs of the community and apothecary, and is set and influenced by the criteria laid out above. For Clearpath Herbals, these are the minimum criteria. Also, we honor and follow the teachings passed on by Native American medicine elders, understanding that we are part of a global community that includes all living beings, and that plants, animals, elements and the Earth itself are conscious beings and our elders. As much as possible, from start to finish, we perform every step and aspect of wildcrafting and garbling medicinal plants and mushrooms as consciously and reverently as possible. We feel that this only adds to the quality, potency and vitality of our medicines.     

Garbling: The actual gathering of plant medicines is wildcrafting, and ‘garbling’ is the term herbalists use to describe the process of cleaning plants and mushrooms gathered, readying them for drying or converting into medicine.

Wildcrafting and garbling are richly satisfying and rewarding experiences. Gathering medicines  strikes a deep chord in our collective human memory. It is a chance to get out into the sanctity and sanctuary of nature, a chance to be a part of the process of the medicines we take, to slow down and get quiet, a chance to meet plants and mushrooms on their terms, in their home, and to feel the respect and awe that comes with being in the presence of these powerful medicines.

That same deep chord is struck by this shared experience of communal activity. We love to remind participants that these activities are as ancient as anything in our cultural DNA. Sitting in a circle of friends, cleaning herbs, sharing stories and laughter is an activity we have been doing for tens of thousands of years.  

Wildcrafting Immersion, offered by Clearpath School of Herbal Medicine, is a unique opportunity for people interested in wildcrafting to join our team for an experience of this mission.     

Learn how to wildcraft herbs during a Wildcrafting Immersion class

This class is taught by Chris Marano and Clearpath Herbal Teaching Staff. It provides a hands-on, A-to-Z field experience gathering wild plant medicinals. It is open to general students publicly, and it is a requirement for certificate program students at all levels.

Wildcrafting Immersion is the real deal. For a morning or afternoon, join a team of herbalists in action, directly experiencing what wildcrafters do and how they do it. Master herbalist Chris Marano and the Clearpath Herbals crew invite you to participate in this experiential wildcrafting wisdom immersion — learning, working, having fun, engaging in a valuable community service, side-by-side with those who do it every day.

You will learn the first steps in how to wildcraft herbs, in addition to:

  • Plant Identification
  • Ethical Wildcrafting Skills
  • Lunar Calendar
  • Medicinal Plant Information
  • Garbling Skills

Join our email list to get notifications on the date and location of the next Wildcrafting Immersion class. We will also list it on our Facebook and Instagram pages and on the website’s calendar when the next wildcrafting event is determined.

Interested in reading about a trip to Florida to wildcraft herbs? A few years back, Chris went on a wildcrafting expedition to Florida to get fresh night blooming cereus cactus. The article on the trip is an audience favorite. Here is an excerpt from it:

I have been using cactus medicine right from the beginning of my herbal practice, it being one of the first plant medicines I traveled long-distance to gather. That was well over 20 years ago, and I have returned to Florida several times since then to gather more when supplies dwindle. It’s worth it to me, because I have used it to great positive effect for many people. I am surprised it is not used by more herbalists, or even known by many herbal practitioners, for that matter. I aim to correct that.

If you are interested in reading more, visit the full article here.

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Wildcraft herbs responsibly and then garble.
Wildcraft herbs for medicinal purposes.

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