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Herbalism: A spiritual path

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

When you look back on your life, what moments stand out in your memory as a moment filled with serenity? The moments I remember are so specific. I remember playing in a sandbox at my grandmothers house listening to the song of a mourning dove. I remember laying in a hammock and staring into the expansive and endless sky. I felt it on the hiking trips I did during my travels. I noticed that I was always immersed in nature when it happened and I was so comforted by the feeling. It made me feel small, like a small part of something so huge that I could never ever fully wrap my head around it. I decided then that I trusted this feeling and I wanted more of it. As I contemplated what to do with the discontent I felt about my job and life at the ripe age of 23, a wise woman I worked with at the time said to me “If you alway do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” The obviousness yet truthfulness of those words stunned me and with that, I quit my jobs and decided it was time to travel. I wanted to see the world and learn how to grow food, it seemed like a reasonable way for me to connect more with nature, where I knew I would find more serenity.



I signed up to WWOOF, which stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It was perfect, an opportunity to travel the world while getting my hands in the dirt. As my higher power would have it, the first farm I ended up volunteering on was an herb farm called Root Work Herbals in Ithaca NY. I was awed, it seemed like such a beautiful way to live life and I really took it all in. Amanda, who owns Root Work Herbals told me about this internship that she had done many moons before at Herb Pharm in southern Oregon. I applied immediately and was accepted into their program for the following spring of 2012. It remains to be one of the best things I have ever done with my life.


I experienced countless full body “YES!"’s while studying and working at Herb Pharm and I got to spend 3 months with a group of 13 incredible women. My heart was full and my spirit was thrilled to find this way of life that resonated so deeply with my values. The Herb Pharm is where I met Sajah Popham, founder of The School of Evolutionary Herbalism and to this very day he has been one of my most influential teachers. I also learned about The Vermont Center For Integrative Herbalism and was told it was one of the best herb schools in the country. I immediately applied and was accepted into their program in the spring of 2013.


VCIH was an incredible program, I completed their year one, Family Herbalist program. I had the honor of studying with Guido Mase, founder of Railyard Apothecary in Burlington, VT as well as Larken Bunce and Betsy Bancroft. From there, I completed the Herbal Academy's 500 hour advanced herbal course. I was hired at Farmacy Herbs in Providence and completed their course of study. Finally, in 2020 I completed Brittany Nickerson’s advanced apprenticeship at Thyme Herbal.



I first learned about the idea of “plant energetics” during my internship at Herb Pharm. I remember thinking, “I don’t get it, but I am certain there is something for me to learn here.” It sounded abstract with a dash of "woo woo". After over a decade of studying Herbalism and 5 certificates later, I now teach about energetics and I see it as foundational for a strong herbal practice.


To understand herbal energetics is to understand the laws and language of nature. The elements, earth, air, fire, water and ether are considered the fundamental patterns of nature, and the idea is that all things in existence contain the qualities of these elements in different variations. The goal of studying energetics is to begin to recognize the qualities of the elements in everything around us. As herbalists we can use this skill to help our clients identify elemental patterns in their bodies and establish the balance they need for optimal health. Seeing the world this way has strengthened my intuition and connection with nature. It is intimately linked with my sense of spirituality which is truly the most rewarding part of being an herbalist and I am forever grateful to have found my plant and spiritual path.

Justine Ring



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Love this, Justine! Nature is a true miracle - we are so lucky to get to experience it! You have so much to offer with all your plant knowledge and I can’t wait to see where it takes you! 🌀🌿🤍

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