At the end of last summer, my partner and I decided to plan a small trip to Chincoteague. We wanted to get out of the city and relax far away fro people with as many COVID precautions as we could possibly do. We had a blast in the beautiful wetlands with wild ponies and everything.
With all the outdoor adventures, my partner ended up getting covered in sunburns. I didn't have my normal pharmacy of salves, herbs, and needles with me. Since vaccines weren't available yet we were avoiding going into stores as much as possible. My partner decided to tough it out without their usual aloe after sun care.
I was sitting in the kitchen of the little studio we had rented when my gaze fell on our groceries on the counter. From nowhere I heard, “Avocado for burns.” Before my hilot initiation I might have shrugged it off, but my teachers encouraged me to listen to our plant relatives in the many ways they communicate to us. I heard it again a second time, more insistent. So, I opened up my laptop and searched, “avocados for burns”. Turns out they are a great medicinal for burns with loads of antioxidants that assist in cell repair.
I got goosebumps. I had always assumed I was disconnected from plants. First off, I am a notorious plant killer and don't have the emotional connection to plants that so many other queer millennials seem to have. Second, my herbal knowledge is almost exclusively in Chinese medicinals, formulations, and theories. To me this was a direct communication of knowledge I did not already have. While I was reading up on avocados I heard, “Honey for burns.”. Again I repeated the same process of research and confirmation.
I shared my experience with my partner and we decided to give it a go. Nothing to lose, right? I mashed the avocados and honey together and smeared it all over their body and face. From my clinical training in Chinese medicine I used the doctrine of signatures – when something in nature resembles a part of our bodies that's what is treats. “Burned” avocado skin to treat burned skin. Using water energy, even if the water is boiled, brings a cooling energy to counteract the fire from a burn. I reserved the avocado skins and pits and made a water decoction, a method of medicine-making where herbs are boiled in water.
My partner, naked and covered in green goo, drank the decoction. I crossed my fingers hoping that I didn't accidentally poison the love of my life. After a while we started noticing the redness in their skin increasing, although the pain had been somewhat soothed. The next morning their burns were completely gone. We were both amazed and extremely grateful.
Having been raised and educated in the U.S., I've been indoctrinated to only value knowledge that is rational, scientifically proven, and linear. I was not taught to value or hone my intuition and definitely not encouraged to talk to plants of spirits. I used to mourn my disconnection from ancestral practices and wisdom, but I am learning I am more connected than I thought possible. The more I practice, the more I feel the different systems of medicine, the different ways of knowing, integrating and informing how I interact with the world.
(Please note that this is not meant to be medical advice or treatment, merely a reflection of a personal experience.)