Candace Hunter is an herbalist and artist living in Oregon’s Willamette Valley with her family: Man, Boy, Dragon, Parrot, Dog, The Magical Hens, and Sweet Annie and The Court. She is author of Herbalism for the Zombie Apocalypse and co-author of The Practical Herbalist Herbal Folios Series. She edits The Practical Herbalist website and Practical Herbalist Press publications. She co-hosts Real Herbalism Radio, a weekly podcast on herbs, homesteading, and the herbalist lifestyle. You can find her herbals right here.
That’s the short story.
The Long Story
Herbalism is an intregal part of my life. It’s like breathing. Now. It wasn’t always thus. I wasn’t born into a magical, herbal, homesteading sort of family. We were pretty average and normal, really. We ate fast food, used all sorts of brand-name cleansers, and relied on allopathic (doctors office-style) medicine for our health concerns.
Moving out on my own didn’t change that, at least not straight away. It was more of a slow shedding process, like a snake shedding layers of skin. By the time my son was born, I’d read a lot about herbalism and felt ready to make it my way of life. It was a lot harder than it looked. I knew a lot, but actually incporporating it into real life…well, that was an arduous challenge.
It took a lot of encouragement from my mentor, Dawn Lacska-Tommerdahl, and later Sue Sierralupé and a lot of paradigm shifting I hadn’t expected to find a practical and real path toward that end. For me, The Practical Herbalist was a way to help others find their own path into an herbal lifestyle. After more than a decade of experimentation and teaching, I can honestly say I’m a Practical Herbalist (and a lazy one, too!).
Art and Creativity have always fired my engine. I dreamed up stories, envisioned “fabric mosiacs” and longed to play with clay from the time I was barely old enough to hold a pencil. Today, I write a lot of non-fiction, like The Practical Herbalist Herbal Folio series with Sue Sierralupé and a ton of articles for The Practical Herbalist. I also write fiction, like Herbalism for the Zombie Apocalypse, and I write marketing materials, like the enewsletters Practical Herbalism Today and Riverfront Cuisine and the articles on Hunter Creation’s website.
While writing may be a vocational artform, my fabric and fiber arts are pure passion. In fibers, I get to dig deeper into both my own soul and the fiber of the Dreamtime. Most of my creations are inspired by The Folk in some way or another. The few that come from inner inspiration are shaped by suggestions from my Spirit Friends and the non-humans in my life. I love the creative process. I love the tools and techniques. I love the experience of working artistically in fiber, fabrics, clay, and in herbs. They push me into new territory.
I love exploring new territory, like podcasting. A decade ago, I would have laughed if you’d have told me I was going to be a podcasting personality. But, here I am, recording and sharing Real Herbalism Radio weekly with a growing audience of listeners. I was extremely nervous when we recorded our first show, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. Now, I look forward to our weekly recording sessions and the opportunity to share some of the crazy and sometimes saucy herbal discussions we have at our regular Practical Herbalist meetings.
My life today is a bit of a circus. We run our own businesses (yes, more than one. We are crazy.), Farm in an urban fashion, play with fiber and plants, and parent. My circus includes The Boy, The Man, The Dog, The Parrot, The Dragon, The Magical Hens, and Sweet Annie and The Court. Although from the outside it probably looks like we’re harmonious, the whole lot of them are a bunch of independent, strong-willed individuals intent on expressing themselves in unique and often dramatic ways. I am probably the most grounded and steady of us all.
And, if you believe that, I could sell you a terrific building in downtown Santa Fe for a steal. The long and short of it is, I’m nuts. We’re nuts. Jasper says not to think on it too much lest you get a headache. I do believe he’s right.
Part of what makes it all work is the confidence and steady nature of the animals and other beings of my life. I cannot remember a time in my life when The Folk weren’t there. I’d love to say that from early childhood I could communicate clearly with animals and Spirits like so many Shamans and Witches claim. I heard them and always have, but for many years I didn’t understand what I was hearing or experiencing. As it turns out, English isn’t the native language of the Universe. Today, I’m a translator, and not a bad one at that. I am grateful for the presence of The Folk, the Ancestors, and the many animals in my life. They offer me guidance, wisdom, and comfort on a daily basis.
The other part of what makes my crazy circus work is the way our family is willing to share our experiences and love and respect each other even when we’re struggling. Tae Kwon Do is a terrific example of one place where we’re all at different levels with different skills yet still supporting one another. I’m the least talented of our lot. Tae Kwon Do is a true struggle. The Boy got to see how ugly it can be when an adult has to be a beginner. The Man got to (for once) slow down to my speed and wait patiently for me to catch on to each new level before he moved forward. I got to push myself in an area where I have absolutely no inherent talent and an infinity of potential. The guys have had their own challenges, too, of course. We stuck together, encouraged each other, and commiserated with the trials and tribulations of practicing martial arts.
So, what are my hobbies? Birds. Yep, I love birds. I have since I was a kid. A few years ago, Sue remarked on my birding skills after I identified a European Starling flock flying overhead. It was then I realized I’ve been and am a birder.