That was 2003, when I had only published "Sticks,Stones, Roots and Bones." Now with 5 books in publication, exploring various aspects of African American healing practices, I asked myself which of those books most directly influenced the development of that workshop. I wanted to know this, so I could discern which of the books would be most useful to the various concerns of those in attendance.
I had two books on healing published between 2009 and 2010--"The Big Book of Soul," and "A Healing Grove." It is those two books that most inspired the content of the workshop. Since their release is so close together and they both center around African American healing you might be wondering what's the difference? I too have been thinking that over, as I plan the workshop experience.
"The Big Book of Soul," is more of a conceptual exploration of African American healing. It takes American Hoodoo as a point of departure. Then it gets into the ways healing and spirituality are fused in the Motherland. Yes, there are recipes and rituals but at its crux is the philosophy behind our healing practices. Yoruba traditions and the concept of ashe, are of particular interest.
"A Healing Grove," goes into the forest to explore various conceptual spaces regarding holistic approaches to healing in the African diaspora. This book's focus is around trees and the medicines they lend to the mind, body and spirit. "A Healing Grove" is more of a practical book, filled with a ton of botanical information on trees and the herbal knowledge needed to utilize them. It also includes ceremonies, rituals and recipes but then goes further, to include how trees are utilized in the arts and crafts of the diaspora.
As the workshop quickly approaches, I am considering the best ways to meld the information presented in each book. I know from the past that workshop attendees don't like to be overloaded with information dispensed in written form or verbally. In short, we must put theory, history and herbalism into practice.
This should be an interesting experience for the attendees, and for me. Time will tell how we work with theory and practice, regarding African American herbalism and our unique approaches to healing.