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Saturday, September 28, 2013

My Workshops On Herbal Lore and the Inspiration Behind Them

Time out of mind, herbs were intimately known to people, used in every facet of their lives, and form a living connection to those who’ve gone before us. My fascination is largely prompted by my absorption with all things historic and the thrill of seeing, touching, tasting, and above all smelling the same plants known by the ancients. It's pure intoxication to rub fragrant leaves between my fingers and savor the scent while pondering the wealth of lore behind these plants. I incorporate this knowledge into my stories. 

"Where the yarrow grows there is one who knows." ~

My passion for Colonial America, particularly stirring tales of the frontier and the Shawnee Indians, is an early and abiding one. My English/Scots-Irish ancestors had interactions with this tribe, including family members taken captive. Intrigued with all things Celtic, much of my writing features these early Scot’s forebears who settled in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and the surrounding mountains. You better believe they used herbs, both the knowledge gleaned from Native Americans and the lore brought with them from the Old World. In addition to American settings, I also write historical and time travel romances set in the British Isles, and herbs figure into these as well. For the purposes of my October Workshop with Celtic Heart Romance Writers I will focus on the herbs used in the British Isles. I can't hope to cover them all, but will make a dent in the plethora of sacred and medicinal plants, and give it the good old girl scout try. And I was one.

 "Faerie-folks are in old oaks." 

I also have a broader herbal lore workshop that includes Native American plants and will give that one in November for From the Heart Romance Writers.  Not that we can’t address any American plants in the Celtic workshop, because I am always open to questions. My intent is to inspire a deeper appreciation of these age-old plants and hope you will find ways to incorporate this knowledge in your writing.For more information on the October workshop and to register visit  Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.

Homework is minimal to nonexistent. My suggestion (assuming you're an author) is to write a scene incorporating an herb or herbs at some point during the workshop and submit it to the group or to me personally for feedback as to the appropriateness of the usage. Or not. It's up to you, and you do not have to be a writer to join in. 

"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance...and there is pansies, that's for thoughts." ~William Shakespeare, from Hamlet

Married to my high school sweetheart, I live on a farm in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley surrounded by children, grandchildren, and multiple animals. The beauty of the valley and the mountains are my inspiration.  Years ago, my long suffering mother and I grew and dried herbs for making wreaths and potpourri to sell in the fall. Any profits we accrued were swiftly overrun by my visits to the allergist whom I’ve seen regularly ever since.  Seems I developed every allergy latent within me by exposure to all these pollens. *Note, If you’re allergic to ragweed, avoid an herb called Sweet Annie and the Artemisia family. I’m still an avid gardener, though with shots, meds, and limits. Daughter Elise is my right hand, and a lot of small people are my new apprentices. 

"The fair maid who, the first of May
Goes to the fields at break of day
And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree ,

Will ever after handsome be ."

For more on me my blog is the happening place:


  1. Beth, that's a beautiful blog post and I look forward to both your classes. I know I've taken your classes before, but a refresher never hurts! Thanks for the links, too.

    1. Thanks so much, Caroline. I need to keep refreshing myself too.

    2. Thanks so much, Caroline. I need to keep refreshing myself too.

  2. I use herbs in my Native American novels and some of the western novels. They were the very first medicines and worked. Not sure why we have to have so many pseudo meds these days. Great post.

  3. Beth, I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. Your writings are not only romantic, they are musical. I can't attend the workshop in October - maybe the November one.

    1. Thanks so much, Karen. I hope to see you then. :)

  4. Interesting post, Beth. I have a wonderful herb encyclopedia. Many of the old home remedies using herbs, various parts of flowers, etc. have been proven scientifically to be as effective in many cases as prescription drugs.


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