There is something magical + healing about the power of plants and how they help us in cultivating our wild nature. As part of my Plant-Powered + Small Business Interview Series, this third interview features Katie Gordon, founder of Wild Grace Apothecary based in the Pacific Northwest.
What I love most about what Katie's interview provides is her clarity around how we can integrate plants into our lives. She talks about building relationships with plants (and not just 'using' them), connecting with our wild bodysoul, and how plant medicine can plug us back into the natural world.
Katie also shares with us:
- Where + how her love of plants began
- What our bodysoul is + one simple tip to connect with it daily
- One easy suggestion for infusing plants into your everyday life
- What a morning ritual looks like for her
- The top 3 plants she likes to work with + why
Editor's Note: This interview is part of the Plant-Powered + Small Business Interview Series. If you're new to Die Vibrant, welcome! Whether you want to infuse more plants into your daily life, transform your beauty routine from conventional to all natural, or want to eat more plants, you're bound to find something here for you. Don't forget to download the free guide to Plant-Powered + Holistic Living. If you own a small, plant-powered business, and want to add your voice to the interview series, shoot us an email.
How has your journey led you to create Wild Grace? Where are you located in the world?
When I was a kid, I fantasized about having a space filled with plants and shelves full of beautifully colored glass where I could make potions. Wild Grace Apothecary is the manifestation of that vision and the lovechild of my deep reverence for plant matter together with my experiments in making my own organic skin care.
The process of creating products felt magical, even alchemical, since the very first time I made my own body butter in my mom’s kitchen (and subsequently ruined her cheese grater when grating my own beeswax).
My friends and family began asking me to make them various skin care and body care products, and I began the long and arduous process of creating labeling for them, which most people will tell you is the absolute worst part of making your own products as a small business. As for my location, I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest!
What is a wild bodysoul to you? How do you help clients reclaim this aspect of themselves?
The bodysoul is the connection and interplay between our physical body, psyche, and soul. We tend to lose our connection to our wild nature because we’ve been made to believe that parts of ourselves are unacceptable and undesirable, either through experiences we’ve had or simply in the society in which we live.
But wildness is innate in us. It’s instinctual. And when we begin to heal, reconnect, acknowledge, and wholly accept those parts of ourselves, we can reintegrate them into our being and fully embody our wholeness and our uniquely wild nature.
I help my clients reclaim lost or rejected aspects of themselves through being deeply seen, witnessing their process, and guiding their journey into deeper layers of soul.
What’s a simple tip that can help us cultivate our wild bodysoul in our everyday lives?
Free writing. Morning pages style. Free write 3 pages each morning and notice the voices that come through.
So often we don’t understand the emotions we’re experiencing because they may stem from memories that our bodies remember, but our minds don’t.
Free writing is a way of shutting down that rational part of our brain that tends to get in the way or talk us out of particular, and potentially painful, feelings so that they can be witnessed and brought into the light.
You’ve been called to the learn everything about the healing abilities of the body. What has surprised you most about the human body and how plants fit into healing one’s self in your experience?
The plants always surprise me. One herb might work beautifully with one person, and do absolutely nothing for another. I’m constantly amazed by the interaction between plants and the human body. The way one organism resonates with another.
How do you use plant medicine in your work with clients?
As you can imagine, I use plants in a variety of ways from skincare, bath + body products to incense and ritual tools, teas, tinctures, and elixirs. But I try not to think of “using” plants and instead encourage the idea of building relationships with plants. It’s not “this plant is good for such and such,” and it’s not even “what can this plant teach me about living in this world?”.
Sean Donahue, an herbalist from the PNW, said in a keynote talk that “Devil’s Club exists to be Devil’s Club.” As in, it doesn’t exist for our benefit. It exists because it’s living out its own sacred/natural contract. And at the same time, we get to build relationships with these plants and see how much they give to us and share with us.
*Stepping off my soapbox now*
One of my favorite ways to incorporate plant medicine and my work with clients is to share a cup of tea before our session together. Just the process of making tea itself is grounding, calming, and nourishing. A blend of different herbs brings together so many various personalities and energetics, and being able to come together, plants + humans, in a sacred space like that is magic. It allows us to plug back into that wild nature that’s mirrored to us by the natural world.
Besides healing touch, you also teach yoga, offer mentorships, 1-1 sessions, natural products, and wild medicine bundles. What calls you to offer such an array of products?
I have so many aspects to my personality! Sometimes I like spending a whole day making potions in my kitchen, sometimes I want to talk to people about the way their physical body holds onto trauma, sometimes I want to connect with a single person and make them feel deeply seen and held in safe, sacred space. I can’t choose one thing because they all nourish parts of me and they all feel important to share. Selfish? Maybe.
For those just getting started with plant-powered living, can you share what is it about plants that offer healing and medicine? What’s a simple way to introduce plant medicine into our lives everyday?
In my mind, and to put it quite simply, plants reconnect us to our own healing potential.
A very simple way to introduce plant medicine into your life is through herbal teas. You can find dried herbs in a variety of places, or you can of course grow your own, but my favorite source is Mountain Rose Herbs because they have the highest quality products.
To me, tea is healing not only in the plants themselves, but because the process of making tea allows us to slow down, be present, and experience whatever it is that we’re experiencing.
What are some specific courses, books, or teachers that you learned from and / or highly recommend?
What I’ve learned from Hugh Milne and his Visionary Craniosacral Work is the underlying current for ALL of my work, whether it’s plant medicine, yoga, mentoring, or one-on-one healing work with my clients.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Women Who Run with the Wolves, and both Caroline Myss and Marion Woodman’s writing have been highly influential in my life and my work as well. Oh, and Angeles Arrien, as well as Arnold Mindell, and Peter Levine in their work on the bodysoul and healing trauma. And Michael Moore and Matthew Wood have written great books on herbal medicine.
I know, that’s a lot. It’s so hard to narrow it down!
What are your top 3 plant medicines to work with? What qualities of the plant calls you to them?
Rose, Hawthorn, and Douglas Fir.
Rose is cooling while also nourishing to the heart and spirit. Hawthorn, traditionally viewed as a heart tonic, helps in times of heartbreak or when you’re feeling heart-centered stress. It reminds me to be patient with myself, slow down, and give my heart space to breathe, be still, and speak. It helps me with boundaries and when my energetic heart needs a rest. And Doug Fir for stability and rootedness while stimulating movement when I’m feeling stagnant or wilty.
What does a morning ritual look like for you?
Tea, always tea. Burning something (White Sage, Palo Santo, or Cedar). Meditation. Pulling tarot cards. Writing. And shower. People don’t realize how healing water is. I’ve healed a lot in my sacred bath time.
Die Vibrant is for wild spirits, natural healers, and truth seekers wanting to infuse more plants into their lives from beauty to diet. We’d love to know: how do plants inspire your life and how do you use them on an everyday basis?
Plants inspire me, in part, because they teach be to be present. They teach me patience, how to fully embody my unique soul, and the necessity of surrendering to the ebb and flow. I consume them every day through tea, herbal infusions, food, and more importantly, through sharing space with them, observing them, and trying to learn more about them.
What do you think it is about plants that connect us with ourselves more deeply? Do you have any experiences with plants, present or past, that inspire you to this day?
Plants, nature in general, mirror our own wild nature. They reflect to us our shadows, those parts of ourselves that we so often reject and disown. They show us what we’re afraid to witness and claim within ourselves. Lobelia is one such plant for me.
At the recommendation of a friend, I took three drops (Yes, just three drops. This is a powerful and potent plant.) and immediately felt my chest open and the edges of my subtle body soften. When I spoke, my voice had dropped dramatically. And it startled me. I wasn’t used to taking up that much space with my voice and hearing it that deeply. It was as if I had heard my real voice for the first time since I could remember, a reminder that in my day to day life I wasn’t fully taking up my space or allowing myself to be heard.
It was quite a wake up call, but it inspires me because now I KNOW what it feels and sounds like to more fully embody myself.
If you could be any plant, what would you be? What qualities of the plant inspire you to embody it?
If I had to choose just one, I’d say Wild Rose. Cooling, calming, nourishing. Good circulatory, digestive, respiratory, reproductive, and nervous system medicine. I use it in SO MANY formulas from skincare to teas and elixirs. It can be infused into vinegar and used topically for sunburns. It works beautifully in times when I feel overwhelmed with grief or stress. It reconnects me to my spirit and softly opens my heart.
What simple things bring you joy + happiness?
Hot baths, blending tea (especially with a particular client in mind), and rain.
What are some words you live by?
Gracefully not giving a fuck.
The Sacred is always simple.
It is only with the heart that one sees rightly.