Clair and Amanda of Willow Provisions are herbalists and friends who believe that the most powerful and healing magic is made of mundane things like shared meals. They are passionate about food, community and creating unique dining experiences.
Amanda: I came to herbalism shortly after I became a witch. I wanted to learn more deeply about the earth and my own health and body as a critical part of my spiritual life and practice, so I sought out a program to help me do that. I was also struggling with my health and feeling resistant to taking the myriad medications I had been prescribed, so I sought a consultation for myself as well. Developing relationships with plants, learning to make my own medicine, and making other lifestyle changes (like sleeping more, moving more, and eating differently) changed my health in profound ways, and I have continued deeper in my spiritual connection with the earth and all its creatures. It is a gift to be able to share this magic with others as I continue to learn and grow.
Clair: I always remember loving the beach and the forest growing up, but it wasn’t until I was much older that I began to develop a relationship to the earth. Through struggles with my own health, I started to turn to plants, when it seemed that traditional medicine couldn’t help me. As I started to see positive changes in my body, I slowly began to realize how connected we are to the plants and other beings. The teachings I’ve received from the plants and from other herbalists have flipped my life upside down in the best way possible, and I love getting to share these teachings with others.
We're just a couple of friends passionate about food, community, and fun! Cooking together and sharing meals has been a beloved part of our friendship as well as our healing and learning as individuals and as community herbalists. We experience so much beauty and connection together through cooking that we thought -- why not share?!
Willow Provisions is born of our joint conviction that the most powerful and healing magic is made of mundane things like shared meals. We want others to experience love and connection through the caring and sustainable preparation of healing plants and animals. We want to bring memories of learning and connection right into your home or community, where you feel most at ease, and share with you the healing magic of plants.
What is the main focus of your work within the realm of herbalism?
Our business offers locally focused herbal immersion experiences for individuals and groups through supper clubs and a wide variety of workshops. We say immersion experience because we feel strongly that people learn best and most fully by engaging all of their senses, and we strive to practice and cultivate whole body self care. So at each event whether it's a supper or a workshop, we offer people a multiplicity of ways to engage with the plant and/or skill that we're sharing. Everything we do is centered around herbs - we're both herbalists, trained in the vitalist tradition, which emphasizes the importance of herbs in facilitating healthy movement, sleep, nutrition, and stress management. Everything we do is focused locally - we strive to connect people with the allies that grow right outside their doors, helping them understand that they can find exceptional healing from within their own communities. We connect people to local farms and vendors, hopefully ushering them a little closer to a sustainable way of living.
In addition to being trained herbalists, we have an array of critical skill sets between us that give our business a unique flare. Clair is also a private chef and yoga teacher. Her experience in the restaurant business brings a high level of professionalism and efficiency to our supper clubs, and her proficiency with leading meditation and movement allows us to provide people with opportunities for deep relaxation and reflection.
Amanda is a seminary trained witch and tarot reader, exceptional home cook, and sorceress of southern hospitality. Her home crafting skills and knack for creating ritual space bring a welcoming and magical atmosphere unique to the Willow Provisions experience. Her distinct way of finding enchantment in the everyday moments reminds our guests to pause, notice, and appreciate the gifts that exist all around us.
We both studied herbalism at Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism with katja and ryn. They are extraordinary teachers and wonderful human beings who we feel privileged to know. They are very rigorous in their study of herbalism, and accessible in their teaching. As it happens, they have a new book out we’d definitely recommend. It’s a beautiful overview of many of our favorite plants, and explains how to apply them to different situations and bodies. It’s wonderful for anyone just starting out as an herbalist, and as a reference for experienced practitioners.
We also love Tammi Sweet! She is an exceptional herbalist and massage therapist who teaches physiology and herbalism with contagious charisma. She offers online classes, and you should definitely check them out!
Another inspiring herbalist is our friend Kinsey Rosene, who owns CroseNest in Lowell. She has cultivated a beautiful space and community of learning there. Her store is a magical place where you can pick up all the necessities, as well as learn medicine making and other skills at one of her lovely workshops. It is definitely worth a trip!
Where do you see the future of herbalism going in the next few years?
We find ourselves in the crossover of two rapidly developing industries -- food, and wellness. We are starting to see huge shifts in the food industry as more and more chefs and restaurants start to focus on using locally grown, small farm ingredients. We love this change, and hope to see more of it in the future! We have really appreciated getting to know our local farmers, and find that being able to chat with them about the rain, the soil, and sometimes even being able to pick our own food brings a connection to our food supply that makes us appreciate the heart and soul that goes into providing nourishment to our bodies.
In the wellness industry, we are starting to see a shift from product dependency to skill set development. Our aim with our workshops (and our suppers) is to teach people how to work with herbs, food, movement, and everyday, accessible resources to support their health in a variety of safe and reliable ways. While we love creating formulas and remedies ourselves, we want people to feel empowered to make their own choices about what they need, feel confident in their knowledge about how to work with plants, and empowered to take ownership over their own health and healing.
What advice would you give to budding herbalists?
Vary your education. Herbalism in this country is a vast and varied landscape - explore it! Spend time in silence or in conversation with the plants. Be willing to take risks and create things that are unexpected. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
We have a YouTube Channel! It’s new - a diamond in the rough. It’s called Chic & Chat - the show where a couple of chics sip a cup of chic and chat about magic. Chic is herbalist slang for chicory, fyi. Tell your friends; pass it along. Each Sunday we share a different chic recipe and chat about the magic of something we love. Check it out and try some of our recipes!
What made you want to be a part of Herbstalk?
We love being able to share our passions with our local community, and we love that Herbstalk is such a fun and accessible event for everyone.
What would be your top five deserted island herbs? (the only herbs you could have around while stuck on a deserted island)
Damiana! First of all, damiana grows in desert like climates, so we might actually be able to cultivate a little garden of it! But also, damiana is an amazing problem solving ally that helps you channel anxious energy into creative solutions, which we’d definitely need to survive a Castaway situation.
Nettle! A nutritive and mineral rich plant, to help provide our bodies with necessary nutrients while we learn how to forage a strange island for food. Nettle is also very grounding and centering and would help remind us that being stranded on a deserted island might actually be kind of amazing.
Catnip! A cooling and soothing plant inside and out. Catnip could help sooth a sunburn or settle us down to sleep while we’re still getting used to sleeping on sand or palm fronds. It’s also a great digestive aid, which we’d likely need as we get accustomed to all that strange food we forage for ourselves. Catnip is also the BEST hangover cure, which would be handy after all of those nights we spend guzzling our homemade mango wine.
Ghostpipe! An amazing ally that helps ease the anxiety and overwhelm that come along with huge transitions, like going from modern day living to being stranded on a deserted island!
Linden! Well, we’re on a desert island, so we need a good cooling and moistening plant, and linden is one of our favorites! Also, being stranded on an island might be pretty stressful, and linden is so soothing (because it’s moistening to heart tissues) for anxiety and distress.