Erica Macrum, July 2020

I grew up with the wet land plants, white oaks, and hickories in Illinois.   My love and connection with plants has been with me my whole life. I remember looking at a beautiful blossoming burdock as a young girl, the vibrant green purple pink of each flower and wondering who is this plant? My family moved from rural countryside to Chicago. I continued to seek out the wild plants in the few natural places in the city. Along train beds, alleyways, small forest preserves and along the lake Michigan beach fronts, always having a curiosity and hunger for understanding who the plants were. As I grew older, I used field guides, ethnobotany books to learn one by one the trees, vines, flowering plants of my home. I dreamed of being a woman of the woods, walking with my baskets full of wild foods and medicines like baba yaga of the old Russian folk stories, except I had not heard of her back then.  I did not know then that you could become an herbalist. I ventured out from the city learning traditional Earth skills and homesteading/hobby farm skills. I craved education, connection, and healing for the Earth.

I had a strong desire to do healing work and I was drawn to massage. I attended the Center for Natural Wellness school of massage therapy in Albany, NY. On my first day at this school, I met a woman who was an herbalist. This was a big “A-ha!” moment. She showed me Michael Tierra’s East West School of Planetary Herbology. A seed was planted deep within me. I borrowed the first lesson book and read about five element and Yin yang theory. This was an introduction to a language that I knew wanted to speak fluently. The way it spoke of the body and its reflection of the natural rhythms, resonated with my heart.  My massage school taught Shiatsu and Chinese medical theory, I was hooked. I continued to study Shiatsu wanting to master one skill before reaching out further. I had a desire to become a doctor of Chinese medicine. I assumed I would need to go through acupuncture school to accomplish this. In 2013, I met a Shiatsu practitioner with a Chinese herbal clinic. Another pivotal moment in the course of my dreams.    As I continued to practice Shiatsu, I felt frustrated with being able to feel so much in a person’s body , hear their signs and symptoms, see the potentials and imbalances in their body, and have my hands as my only tool to move and nourish qi. It is similar to jump starting a car but not being able to help someone change their alternator.   I knew it was time for me to go further in my work. I looked for an herb program that was close to home. I learn best in person, through experience and spoken word. These schools were lacking the rich beautiful traditional medical theories of ancient and earth-based cultures. When I chatted with a friend and realized that I had been holding the East west school in my thoughts for 14 years, I made movement toward fulfilling the next part of my journey. In the fall of 2018, I became a student at the East West School of Planetary Herbology with Michael and Lesley Tierra.  Being in this school has helped me to fill the voids in my self-taught plant education and gain greater fluency in Chinese medical theories.

Today I live among wintergreen, wild blueberries, hemlocks, and birches. Artesian water flows in the creek that borders my garden. The great Gitchee Gumee, Lake Superior’s healing and powerful waters crash against the glacier scrapped earth my feet walk upon. I raise my two beautiful children with my loving handy husband in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. We have animals and I have big gardens planted with food for winter storage, medicinal and culinary herbs, berries, and nuts. I go out with my basket to the forest that surround our home, wild crafting medicines and foods to share with my community. I share knowledge, empowering people to learn about their body, health, and plants. This is my form of grassroots activism.

I own my own business Seeds of Well Being. I have been practicing Shiatsu and massage for 16 years. I have been studying and practicing Qi gong to support my body and shiatsu work. My dream of incorporating herbal medicine with my work becomes more of a reality every day. I am so grateful to my grandmother who planted the seeds for my interests in health and healing. She practiced yoga and tai chi, ate macrobiotic, and regularly sought out Chinese Medicine doctors, herbalists, acupuncturists, and massage. She passed away this spring at the age of 93.   I miss her greatly and think of her when I make kitchree or miso soup. Her house always smelled of kasha (roasted buckwheat). My grandmother and the many people I have met along my path have helped to guide me to where I am today. I now am able to be with a plant and have a deep understanding of all the gifts they have to offer.

Website (not updated to include herbal work yet) www.wellbeingupnorth.com

Instagram- seeds_of_wellbeing

Etsy shop- https://etsy.me/2yQvGTI