By Dr. Wolf Dieter Storl
North Atlantic Books
First of all I have to admit that I am completely biased with regard to this book - Wolf Dieter Storl is one of my favourite writers and the German version of this book has been my all-time favourite book on herbalism ever since I came across it more than 20 years ago. It has been my treasured companion ever since.
This book is not about clinical herbalism and formulations - there are already dozens of such books on the market. Wolf-Dieter Storl is a cultural anthropologist by training, not a medical professional. He is also a passionate plant person and gifted story-teller who skilfully weaves his coss-cultural perspectives into the narrative.
The book introduces the reader to different healing philosophies from around the world, from Ayurveda, to Chinese Medicine, to Native American practices, thus putting our own dominant system into a comparative context.
He takes us on a journey that goes way beyond the reductionism prevalent in modern medical science and instead conveys the art and craft of traditional herbalism embedded in the cosmology of the ancients. In western herbal tradition that includes astrology. Storl manages to explain the often complex concepts of astrology in non-technical terms, which enables the student to understand the nature of plants from a completely different angle.
The scope of this book is phenomenal and the insights and pearls of wisdom contained within are priceless. The book covers the uses of herbs not just in terms of their medicinal uses, but comprises the whole sphere of the wise women - food and spices, aromatherapy and beauty care, aphrodisiacs and fertility, gardening and growing herbs, shamanic uses of herbs and more.
He also provides the reader with invaluable advice on how to become a 'wortcunner'. 'What is a wortcunner anyway?' most people will ask. Storl explains the term in the first few pages. 'Wort' is an old word for herb and root, etymologically related to 'Ur' the source and origin of things, while 'cunner' is related to ken=knowing and kin=a close relative. So a wortcunner understands the whole entity of an herb intimately, as a close relative, because the totality of a herb (or person) is more than the sum of its constituents.
This book is a joy to read, taking the reader on a literary walk down the secret garden path to the plant devas themselves. I have learned more about the art and craft of traditional herbalism from these pages than from any other source, and I am delighted that this book is now, finally, becoming available to the English speaking world! A 'must read' for any student of herbalism who wants to go beyond formulas and constituents.
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