Hello dear ones and happy spring!
Today I am absolutely thrilled to introduce you to my dear friend Stephanie Mullis of Holistic Harvest and Holistic Medicinals. Steph is an incredible beginning farmer and herbalist-in-training in Sharon, Wisconsin. She also happens to be one half of the couple who joined us on our trip to Hawaii last fall.
I’ve invited Steph to do a series on the blog because of her kindness, knowledge, and deep passion for holistic wellness. She will be be sharing a blog post every 6 weeks on topics ranging from herbal medicine to women’s health, sexual health to make-at-home herbal remedies.
This first post is an introduction to Steph and her personal journey into herbalism. Before we dive into some of the elegant and magical powers of medicinal herbs and plant nourishment, I want you to understand the woman behind this series.
My own path toward holistic being has been rocky, at best. Steph has been real a partner to me over this past year in my personal journeys through healing, wellness, self care and “infertility”. She’s a tremendously talented woman with more maturity, wisdom and compassion than seems possible in someone 27 years young. I hope her words are just as helpful to you as they have been to me.
Enjoy! And welcome to the blog dearest Stephanie.
Guest series by Steph Mullis of Holistic Medicinals
Starting my career in massage therapy at 18 years old, herbalism was always a natural direction I found myself shifting towards. I have been able to feel the magic within this earth, as most of us can, since birth.
I would frequently search for schools regarding herbalism, homeopathy, and naturopathic medicine but unless I wanted to move out west, which was unfathomable at the time, my only options appeared to be online training which simply did not resonate with me. I began practicing energy work and this, along with the rekindling of a high school romance, was what truly started to shift things in my life. I quickly decided that I was going to move out of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to Madison, to be with my partner and study botany at the local college. I had the desire to grow and sell herbs and since I knew practically nothing about herbs or growing, this felt like a step in right direction.
While in Madison, I was working at a wellness center where we incorporated essential oils into our practice. Aromatherapy sparked my interest from the beginning of my holistic career and after some research, I was able to find an incredible holistic aromatherapy course right there in the city. Since school for herbalism still felt so unattainable, I embraced this opportunity with open arms. In the three years that I was enrolled in this course I learned so much about the physical, emotional, spiritual and metaphysical uses of aromatherapy along with so many other healing modalities. That is the beautiful thing about studying holistic healing; no matter the topic you are initially studying it automatically includes numerous other aspects of health and well-being right along with it. I quickly realized, however, what a battle being a clinical aromatherapist was going to be, and by that, I mean that there is serious work to be done in society regarding essential oils.
Essential oils are an extremely concentrated plant extract and though they can absolutely be beneficial, the impact on the environment needs to be considered as well as the safety of such a concentrated substance. So many people learn about essential oils through multi marketing companies (I was once one of them) and the information advertised by these companies can be extremely unsafe. They convince you that you need these blends to keep your family healthy and they profit from the naivety of the generally public. Aromatherapy is not regulated in the U.S. but in some countries you need to be a Doctor to prescribe essential oils. Being one of the comparatively few people truly educated on aromatherapy makes for a very difficult experience. I value the education that I received and one of the biggest lessons learned was “Herb First”, if that does work then you can start exploring stronger options. Essential oils are still part of my healing practice, but I no longer sell them or promote them. I simply educate on the plants and raise awareness on safety and environmental impacts.
My partner and I had been dancing around the idea of somehow incorporating our careers into one cohesive business; his cooking and personal training, my healing practice and love of herbs. He had been working for an organic farmer and working in restaurants while I was trying to balance school and work without losing my mind. I don’t remember exactly how the conversation came about but we eventually decided to start our own farm! His parents had some land behind their house in Sharon, Wi and agreed to let us experiment there for our first couple of years. Our first year we decided to start a CSA and vend at a small Madison farmers market. Our second year I started growing some basic herbs such as Sage, Thyme, and Oregano and some herbs that I was attracted to from my aromatherapy studies; Ashwagandha, Angelica, Valerian, Holy Basil, Calendula, Chamomile, and Hyssop. I began making tinctures, massage candles, smudge sticks and selling herbs at farmers markets along with our veggies. It wasn’t till our third year that I really felt comfortable with my ability to grow and this is when my herbal business started to take off.
During our second growing season my prayers were answered, and I discovered an herbalist apprenticeship program at the Wildwood Institute in Verona, Wi!! It is the only clinical herbalist certification program in Wisconsin so as you can imagine I was ecstatic to have found it! It felt like a lifetime of waiting but I finally began the program in 2018 and am about to head into my second year. My herbal studies have been so fulfilling and Kathleen is such an educated, intuitive instructor. Her course is in depth and incorporates everything from nutrition to shamanic journeys for a truly holistic approach to herbalism. That is the only way to approach herbalism as it is so much more than just knowing statistics about plants.
I have learned that the best medicine is right in our back yard. The field that we have been growing veggies in quickly became a plant medicine forest as I began to build relationships with these native plants. The respiratory healing Mullein that I had looked over so many times was now a celebration. The Burdock plants that I despised when my dog would become covered in their seed pods was now one of my favorite sites to see. I think about the one tiny nettle plant I pulled out of the ground after it stung me while weeding, now praying that more will appear. The dandelions, violets, elderberry trees; all so full of purpose and power had been on this land all along. We are absolutely surrounded by magic in the form of plant allies and you can feel that energy radiating from these “weeds” when you start to learn who they are.
The diversity in herbal preparations is also so grounding and expansive that I truly feel in the presence of God when preparing them. Did you know that you can wrap a burdock or mullein leaf around a joint to reduce pain and swelling? Or that you can chew up some yarrow and place it on a wound to stop the bleeding? You can smoke many different herbs for respiratory issues and spiritual ceremonies. Long infusions are now a daily preparation as a natural and complete nutritional beverage. I have always loved this planet and cared for her well-being, but it wasn’t till learning about these plants and creating these relationships that I could truly begin to worship her.
Herbalism is one more beautiful addition to my practice of holistic healing. I will share my knowledge and be an advocate for plant medicine and holistic healing modalities. My personal practice, Holistic Medicinals, focuses on holistic healing through herb gardening, plant medicine, sexual awareness, and spirituality. I invite you to follow me on this journey as I share my knowledge with the world. I hope that I can inspire you to care for yourself, your friends, family and this planet while honoring and connecting to our ancestors.