Northways Activities

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Begin your journey into Northways, an online course with 12 seasonal sessions to guide you through herbs, traditional uses, and seasonal changes celebrated by indigenous peoples throughout the world. Get the details at Northways Herbalism

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Northways Herbalism
Table of Contents

  • Defining Northways
  • Herbal Safety
  • Responsible Foraging & Sourcing
  • Consensus Reality
  • Finding My Indigenous Roots
  • Suggested Activities
  • Tell Your Story


Photo by Jordan Madrid on Unsplash

Northways as a concept came to me through a discussion of folkways. Folkways simply refers to the ways that traditional peoples moved around in the world. 

In North America, before colonization the people were nomadic: moving and measuring time with the seasons and celestial progressions, filling their needs with what they found and made during the journey, and trading with other nomadic peoples they encountered.

European colonization initiated a shift from nomadic to farming ways: both folkways, but ways that could not co-exist. My purpose here is not to discuss the complicated and violent history of the United States, but if you need a reading list or other source of information, please contact me.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and we are finding a resurgence of folkways, especially in understanding indigenous ways.

Indigenous is a complicated word in North America. The dictionary defines it as: originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native. 

But many people feel that the words indigenous and native in North America refers only to Native Americans, as in American Indians. 

Another definition I’ve encountered is: living on and from the land, filling needs from the land, with deep connection to the land physically and spiritually. I have known few people who live this way completely. Most people are deeply connected to (or trapped by) consensus reality (more on this later). 

At the same time, many people I’ve met from North American indigenous cultures say, “everyone has indigenous roots, some of us just have to dig deeper to find them.” 

In North America I see the rise of indigenous understanding in local and slow food movements, foraging, homesteading, and Earth-based spirituality. Many are turning to reconstruction of indigenous ways based on heritage.

That said, Northways Herbalism is my pursuit of reconstructing indigenous plant ways into my life. I participate in consensus reality more than I like, but I live in a forest on a homestead on the edge of town where I am practicing folkways bound by plants, tradition, and history of the North. 

I’m literally the archetypal herbalist, living on the edges with all the weird plants.

Welcome! I look forward to reading your comments and stories. The next few sections provide some introductory ideas to help you get started with Northways Herbalism including downloads. The first section of Northways Herbalism will be released in November and you’ll get an update every month until you have completed the course.

Leah Wolfe with blooming May Apple, a spring ephemeral plant in the eastern U.S. with both poisonous and medicinal properties.