Asia Suler is a writer, teacher, medicine maker, and earth intuitive bringing forth, healing into the world and helping people connect to their intuition and the earth's guidance. She is also the creatress behind One Willow Apothecaries; An online heart-centered space for learning, healing, connection, and a virtual apothecary where you can order Asia's celestial flower essences and Elixirs. Both a seeker and sage, Asia keeps herself connected to the wisdom of the earth, living and working from the lush green Blue Ridge mountains of Western North Carolina, also the ancestral lands of the Cherokee. Her courses in herbalism, vaginal healing, medicine making, and business are available online, both through One Willow Apothecaries and as a core online teacher at the renowned Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine. Asia's gifts of healing come wrapped in compassion and goodness with an overarching understanding that we are all our own healers; We sometimes need just a little guidance tapping into our inner navigational system, and this is where she works. In this powerful conversation, Tahnee and Asia talk about the alchemy of healing through heartache/pain, learning to trust intuition, the healing power of Daoist stone medicine and the mineral world, healing through holistic herbalism, Asia's Pussy Portal online journey, and so much more spiritual, esoteric goodness.
"I think this is a natural part of being a human being that we are in this relationship, really, with the parent of the earth, this parent that actually never forsakes us and has always been there for us and is helping us to really step into that power because that power is what will change the tide of our culture and our world".
- Asia Suler
Tahnee and Asia discuss:
Who is Asia Suler?
Asia Suler is a writer, teacher, and ecological philosopher who lives in the folds of the Blue Ridge mountains. She is the creator and concoctress of One Willow Apothecaries— an Appalachian-grown company that offers handcrafted herbal medicines and online education. Asia’s work— which is a unique combination of herbalism, animism, Daoist stone medicine, ancestral healing, and earth-centered mysticism— is rooted in the belief that self-compassion is a force of ecological healing. Her forthcoming book of nature writing will be available through North Atlantic Books in 2022.
Secret Teaching of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature - Stephen Harrod Buhner
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Check Out The Transcript Here:
Hi, everybody. I'm Tahnee from SuperFeast and I'm really, really honoured to interview Asia Suler today. She is located in North Carolina. That's right? On some beautiful Cherokee land. And she's a stunning writer, a beautiful herbalist. She teaches about earth medicine and mineral medicine, and she crafts these beautiful medicines, which I'm really excited to talk to her about. And she's the founder of One Willow Apothecaries. Some of you might follow her online. I know a lot of our team are really into Asia's work. So it's such a privilege to have you here today, Asia. Thank you for joining me.
Asia Suler: (00:36)
Thank you so much for having me.
Yeah. So exciting. And did I get that right? Are you in North Carolina?
Asia Suler: (00:43)
Yes. You got that exactly right, yep. I'm in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
One of the most stunning parts of the States from my understanding, yeah?
Asia Suler: (00:53)
Yeah. Well, I think so. It's very, very beautiful old mountains here, some of the oldest mountains in the world.
And could you give us a sense of the landscape? Is it big forests or kind of more planes? What are we thinking when we think of Carolina?
Asia Suler: (01:10)
Yeah. So Western North Carolina, where I live, is the Appalachian mountains. So it's a Southern Appalachian. So you can think about basically this is a temperate rainforest here. So it's just lush green, lots of life, lots of trees, coves mountain tops, but it's very undulating landscape. It's like being in a grandmother's lap being here. So, yeah. That's kind of how the land feels here. And for a bit of a pop culture reference, if anybody watches Outlander, they end up here at some point, so that ...
My best friend is obsessed with that show. She's going to be like, "Yes."
Asia Suler: (01:51)
Yeah. I don't think they actually filmed it here, but they do end up here. And so just the soft mountainous, old growth kind of feel is a good description, I think.
Are you born and raised in that part of the world or did you have a journey there?
Asia Suler: (02:10)
Yeah, no. I moved here about 10 years ago. I grew up in Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia. So I grew up in the suburbs between Philadelphia and New York city. And my family is all, both sides, from New York City and that city area. So, yeah. It was a pretty big change to move down here, but I felt very guided and at the time I was living in New York City and I just woke up one day and in my head, I thought I'm going to study herbalism. Now, at the time I think I thought I knew what that meant, but I actually had no idea. The bliss of the ignorant.
The rest of your life.
Asia Suler: (02:57)
Yeah. But I just knew it was the right path for me. I was passionate about plants and earth connection already. And so, yeah. I applied to a school here, which ended up being the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine and just fell in love with the school and the place and just never really looked back. This became home.
And full circle, you teach for that school now don't you?
Asia Suler: (03:22)
I do. Yeah.
Yeah. It's so beautiful. Must be nice to maintain that connection to the community.
Asia Suler: (03:28)
Yeah, definitely. It's a great school and they have amazing programmes. Yeah. I just feel so lucky that they're here and that I got to get my education with them because they're stellar.
And so tell me, you were in New York. What were you doing there? Obviously you weren't into herbalism at that point. So did you have another career or another path before?
Asia Suler: (03:51)
Yeah. So I had a couple jobs while I was living there. It was after I graduated from college. So I was kind of just figuring things out. My first job out of college there was as a plant technician, which means I took care of people's office plants. So all day long, I ranged around Manhattan with a watering can and a duffel bag full of plant supplies and would take care of hundreds of plants a day, like Rockefeller Centre and down in the Financial District. So, yeah. I went all over the place taking care of plants and I just was looking for any job I could find that would be interacting with plants or nature in the city. And that's what I found. And so I did that for a while until just basically the grind of commuting into Manhattan and having probably upwards of 300 30 second conversations a day with every ... I love talking to the plants, but the socialising with the people part got hard, especially for an introvert like me. So I ended up leaving that job and becoming a dog Walker.
Asia Suler: (05:04)
It was actually one of my favourite jobs I've ever had. I loved it so much. I did freelance writing on the side but my main job was as a dog Walker and it was just such a beautiful time to daydream and just walk around my neighbourhood, where I lived in Brooklyn, so it was a lot quieter there. And, yeah. That was really a time where I seeded a lot of the dreams that I ended up following. So I like to share that because I think a lot of times everyone has big dreams for their life and I truly believe that those dreams are possible. And sometimes those jobs that we would never expect are the things that actually ended up really giving our spirit something that they need, whether it's time or space or financial support that we then can really use as a springboard into taking that next step in our life.
I mean, that dreaming for you was that this life that you've built now, or were there stepping stones along the way for you? How did that manifest in your visioning?
Asia Suler: (06:07)
Yeah. Every time I would dream into it I saw myself spinning in a meadow on a mountain top, that was my vision-
Like Julie Christie.
Asia Suler: (06:16)
... of my life. Yeah. I didn't totally know what that meant, but at the time I had gotten my Reiki masters and so I was wanting to work with clients and I thought, "Well, I'm going to go to school for Western herbalism." So I will learn the things that I probably would have a hard time teaching myself, things like physiology and disease process and chemical constituents of plants. And then I'll open a practise and I'll start combining these things, Reiki and energy healing with herbalism in an informed way and work with people. I had really no idea that I would graduate from school and there would be a very strong directive from my intuition to start a products business.
Asia Suler: (07:05)
And I was very resistant to it at first. I was like, "I don't want to have a products business." I had worked for a lot of brick and mortars growing up. So I saw just the challenge of selling physical items-
Yeah. Retail business.
Asia Suler: (07:20)
... and replenishing stock. Yeah. It's hard. And so I was really reluctant to do it, but the message just would not go away. So, yeah. Finally I did it. I launched One Willow Apothecaries and that, again, it was like that next step that helped reveal what had been waiting for me. So I don't think I could have conceived of the life that I'm living now. I didn't really have a template for it then, but I think that I started that business, that products business, and then people started asking me to teach. And I thought, "Okay, well, why not?" I'll give this a try and found that actually I loved it and that it flowed really naturally from me. And it was a passion I didn't even know that I had. And so while my intention was this open a healing practise, I did do that, but eventually where it took me was really more into this realm of being a teacher and a speaker and a guide.
Asia Suler: (08:17)
And I just would never have been able to conceive of that before. At one point I thought, "Oh, maybe I'll become a professor." Maybe one day I'll go back to school and get my PhD or whatever and I'll become a professor. I just didn't have a template for what that would look like to teach and not be teaching in, for example, the school system in elementary school or middle school or even college or university, but what would it be like to teach outside of that? I just didn't know. And so I really now have come to learn to trust those intuitive hits that, say, "Go there, do this thing, try this." Because even if it seems like it's not fully in alignment with where you think you were wanting to go or what you thought your next step was, it opens you up, taking that last little walk on a vista to see this new part of the path open up for you. So I'm excited to keep walking and see what is around the bend.
Asia Suler: (09:24)
Yeah. Because I think our journeys are always unfolding.
And even on that point of, I guess, you seem to have such a master of the internet as a platform for sharing and teaching. And I think that wasn't even a reality 15 years ago. None of us could imagine being an internet [inaudible 00:09:44], to be here talking to you via Zoom. I couldn't have conceived of that, that long ago. So I think it's this sense of trusting that it's so much bigger than even what our tiny little consciousness can conceive in the moment. But I also noticed one of your favourite books is Buhner's Secret Teaching of Plants. And we've had him on the podcast before. My husband and I are very big fans of his and I guess I'm feeling into that connection to the sort of awakening he speaks about around the heart space and learning to interact with everything is kind of sentient. And then how that cultivates a sense of trust and, I guess, purposing and guidance coming from this awareness of how interconnected everything is. Is that something would you say that's helped influence this trust and faith you have an intuition or is it just through living or is there anything in particular you can point to?
Asia Suler: (10:39)
Yeah, absolutely. When I was in college, I developed a chronic pain condition called vulvodynia, which is basically chronic valvular pain. There's not really a medical explanation for it in the Western model. So I was diagnosed with this chronic pain condition and really I didn't have much of a recourse of what to do. And at some point I was told the only thing I could do was to get surgery to remove nerve endings from my vulva. And it was just one of those moments where you have a breakthrough voice come through and that voice said there's another way and you can find it. And so really what I started doing and how I took solace during that time was I started going outside, talking to the trees and communing with nature and sitting with the plants. And I was really lucky where I went to college, that there was a farm nearby with Woodlands and places to wander.
Asia Suler: (11:42)
And that was where I felt seen. It was where I felt heard, it was where I experienced comfort. I think anytime people experience chronic pain, it's often invisible. A lot of times people don't see it. And especially chronic pain in that area of your body, it's sort of like a double whammy because you're really not supposed to talk about it. You're not supposed to talk about your vagina. You're not supposed to talk about anything having to do with your vulva. So, yeah. So to me, my primary caregiver and guide became the natural world mostly out of anguish and strife. But the amazing thing is I started bringing the heartache and the pain that I was experiencing to the earth. And I started hearing the plants speak back to me. And this was before I had started on my herbalism journey or if he had even gardened or anything like that before, but I could hear them and I could feel them.
Asia Suler: (12:44)
It was like this dimension of the world that I always knew was there, but that I had closed down my perception of at a young age, just because of the culture that many of us grew up in where that was considered unintellectual, silly at times, and just in some ways antithetical to the culture that I was brought up in, which was very much this Northeastern, a bit sarcastic, highly intellectual way of viewing the world. And so, yeah. I started having these amazing experiences and then nature started guiding me. I started receiving dreams and messages about next steps to take. And so it was a very windy path that included things like realising I had undiagnosed food allergies and going to physical therapy and working with trauma and really releasing trauma that I had in my body from previous in my life. I realised that it was this multifaceted thing, ancestral healing, and it was through these different avenues that I did eventually heal something that I was told was unhealable. It took about five years.
Asia Suler: (14:02)
And on the other side, it was like this trial by fire to really learn how to trust those intuitions that come in and how to trust the earth and that the earth has me and holds me and wants to help me. And so I think for a lot of people, there is something that happens, some sort of initiation. Sometimes it has to do with health, physical health, mental health, where it feels like everything is falling apart and what's really happening is you're being taken apart so you can be put back together again into a wholeness that you always knew was there, but perhaps hadn't fully accessed before. And I think for a lot of us who experience that, we end up here on a podcast like this and on journeys of healing like this. And we end up on that other side learning to trust more of what we received because we have found that there is guidance in the unseen and there is guidance within us. And oftentimes that guidance is more accurate than perhaps some of the well-meaning but misguided guidance that we've gotten from other systems that we're a part of.
I mean, I want to bookmark about five things there because I want to go into more detail about your relationship with the living world, but I'm also really interested in when you work with others. And I mean, I've seen it in your teaching that there is this real, I guess, sense of deep connection to nature. And is that, for you, the key? If you were guiding someone or supporting someone on their healing journey, how much of it is your reading of them and how much of it is you encouraging them to go and find their own path to healing? I hope this is making sense, but trying to tease this out because I do healing and energy work sometimes, not so much in the last few years due to business demands, but it's something I often find is there's this, co-creation in that space with myself and the person, but really they're leading the unveiling, I suppose, of what they need and I'm just this vessel for, I guess, what they can't see for themselves. I hope this makes sense. So how would you encourage a client or a customer or someone you're dealing with to go and get into this space themselves, especially if you're not dealing with them face to face?
Asia Suler: (16:24)
Yeah. I think my role, how I see my role, is that of the guide. That I come in for a period of time, whether it's through my teaching or my practice, which is also currently on pause for me, but I come in and I see them where they're at, but I also see what their spirit is asking them to step into. I think that's my favourite part about working with people is you can really see their divinity. You really feel just their deep beauty and talent and wisdom. And so my job is really just to reflect that back to them. And it's a great job. It's really wonderfully fulfilling to do that and to just like fall in love, basically, with every person that you work with, because you're just seeing like, "Oh my gosh, this person's amazingly special." And so I get to reflect that back to them and really that's oftentimes all people really need, is to keep having it reflected back to them and shown to them.
Asia Suler: (17:27)
And that is the guidance that they need to tap into that inner navigational system, because everybody is their own healer. Everybody knows on a deeper level what they need. And so I'm really passionate about helping people connect to their intuition and to speak to the earth, to speak to their guides here on this planet and beyond, because I think what they receive for themselves is going to be dead on and what I receive might help them understand that message, but ultimately it's like we are all receivers and we are all channels for this wisdom that wants to flow through us for our wider selves. That's the term that I like to use. So, yeah. I very much see myself as this benevolent earth mirror and guide in my work. And it's a wonderful place to be.
I really love that. Yeah. I teach yoga sometimes and having a child now it's like having all these little babies, especially at the end when everyone is vulnerable. I teach yin yoga too. So it's like slug yoga. Nobody moves for hours. But I watch them all the veils ... They're all the faces are clear and they come out and it's like this huge overwhelming sense of love. And I've seen a lot of transformation through people just being loved in that way. And it does remind me a lot of parenting. You have to just, no matter what, hold this open heart for your child and your partner and your family and your business. Yeah. I think it's a really nice place to give from, I suppose.
I mean, I want to go back to what you were saying about this relationship with the natural world, because one thing that I guess I haven't had a lot of people speak about this. There's a guy called Eliot Cowan. I don't know if you know his work. I really love ... His book was one of those ones that I cried through. I was just like, "Yes." And he talks a bit about stone medicine and the relationship with the mineral kingdom. And I know that's something you're teaching and working with. And my first experience with ... I've always had a real connection to rocks and stones, but I actually on plant medicine one time had a proper three hour conversation with this grandfather rock. And I just remember it's one of the most visceral memories of my life that I can draw from and the wisdom and the like, "I've seen all this before," kind of vibe. The same is very comforting from that kingdom, I think, in terms of this like, "Don't take any of this too seriously. It's all just part of the unfolding." Is that how you've ended up? What sort of lessons or teachings have you drawn from that kingdom? How do you encompass that relationship?
Asia Suler: (20:27)
I love that you said grandfather rock because all stones feel like grandmothers and grandfathers to me. We have a lot of really big, beautiful boulders where I live, including some big quartz boulders and just the wisdom and the peace that emanates from them, I mean, it's almost addictive. You're like, "I just love stones. I just want to be with them." They are some of the oldest beings on earth. They are really our great grandparents in a way in that stones and the minerals they're made up of are what feeds the green world, the world of the plant kingdom. And then we eat the plants. And so really indirectly, but our lives are dependent on stones and on the mineral world. And our relationship with stones as humans is very ancient.
Asia Suler: (21:23)
The time that we've been out of the quote-unquote stone age is very short. For most of our experience as human beings, we have really been reliant upon stones. As tools, yes, in a very physical craftsmanship kind of way, but I think also as spiritual conduit. So there's a reason why in the neolithic era, as it's described, we built these amazing temples of stones, stone circles, and dolmans and standing stones, because we had carried with us through, at that point, over 100,000 years of working with stones, this knowledge that stones are these gatekeepers to deep earth wisdom, to other dimensions of experience and being. I mean, thinking about what stones have lived through, just the literal metamorphic journey of some stones, I mean, they have seen so many aeons and years of this earth flourish and die back, flourish and die back. So I think just being with stones, it gives you this long view and it reminds you of the eternal part of yourself.
Asia Suler: (22:36)
And so part of my training is in Daoist stone medicine, which was brought to this country by Jeffrey Yuen, who's an 88th generation Daoist priest.
I love him.
Asia Suler: (22:47)
Yeah. He's amazing. And one of his teachings around the stones is that stones help us go to basically the deepest level of our being and the Daoist understanding, which is this Yuan level of our being. So this is the level of our being that is where our unconscious lives, it's where archetypes live. It's where our quote-unquote junk DNA lives, the realm of dreams. So literally stones have this ability from this Daoist perspective to take us into the absolute deepest layer of our being, to commune with this deep layer of ourselves, basically the part of ourselves that is still in touch with our soul and our soul's plan. And I have found that to be true with stones that they're interesting to work with as medicine in that I think sometimes their signature is very similar to how they are. It can be slow and it can be incremental, but once a change is made, it's set in stone. It is as permanent as stone itself. And so I've seen really amazing changes happen for myself and people I work with through working with the energy and the medicine that stones can bring.
And how are you doing that in a practical sense? Is it through physically holding them or through infusing fluid with their energy or what's the kind of process with that?
Asia Suler: (24:17)
I think the easiest way is to interact with them on the body. So holding them in meditation, having jewellery where the stone is actually touching your skin or doing meditations, or even acupressure work with having stones on particular parts of the body. It's the most accessible way to work with stones and I find it to be quite effective. I was trained in using elixirs. If you're new to using stone elixirs, then it's a really good idea to be super safe because a lot of stones have components to them that are just not safe for us to ingest. So a good place to start if you're interested in this is with any of the quartz crystals. So if it's an untreated quartz crystal like clear quartz, rose quartz, untreated citrine and smoky quartz, those are all really safe stones to start with.
Asia Suler: (25:12)
Another way to do it is to make an elixir where you basically put the stone inside a glass cup and you put that glass cup inside of a water bowl, so that the stones basically energy and electromagnetic energy can affect the water, which we know it does, without the stone actually touching it. So that's another safe way to make an elixir. I think elixirs are nice because it gives us that grounding ritual of interacting with the stone. And of course, in Daoist medicine elixirs and internal preparations are a really big part of how they like to interact with stones. It also got them into trouble in the past, just getting mercury poisoning or whatever. So they had to learn the hard way about using stones in certain ways. So, yeah. For I would say anyone who's listening, working with stones on your body or making the safe elixirs that I mentioned are a really good place to start.
Yeah. I think I really like that idea of separating it out, but the frequency is still affecting it. That's how I was taught. So my teacher taught us a little bit about this, but you don't put it directly into your water. You have it around or nearby and let it spend time together. And I hope this is okay to ask, but I noticed when you said the energy, you were sort of like, "Oh." Is that something you find hard to talk about, the energy of something like a stone or is it just something that makes you kind of giggle? I guess I ask because for me, I find sometimes I have this quite academic brain and then I've also had these quite insane experiences that are completely beyond the realm of current science, I suppose. There's some fringe stuff that is articulating what I experienced, but it's not really mainstream. And, yeah. Sometimes I find myself just going, "How do I even explain this to people? How to even make this known?" Could you relate to that or was I completely misreading that?
Asia Suler: (27:25)
Yeah. I definitely also have an academic brain and have had wild unexplainable experiences and I'm a lover of language, so I'm always wanting to find the description that captures an experience the best. And I think maybe the pause with energy was twofold. One, I sometimes think that that word is used so much that people start skimming over what that really means and start tuning it out when they hear someone talk about energy, like, "What does that even mean? What are you trying to describe with energy?" And then the other side of that is that I do see myself as a bridge builder, helping people who might come from that more like academic, rational background to feel safe enough to start bridging this world. I know for a long time I was really resistant to starting to do this type of work because I saw it as very ungrounded, so in some ways, unthought through and unintellectual, et cetera, as I mentioned before.
Asia Suler: (28:41)
And so I'm always trying to be as specific as I can with my language to describe things, because I want people to have that bridge to walk over and to know that this is something I've thought about, that I really thought about how to articulate this and have researched what is the terminology that we can use to describe what we understand with our limited tools. And then beyond that, what is the poetry we can use to describe this rather than defaulting sometimes to these words that tend to lose their meaning over time. I still think energy's a really beautiful word. And frankly, for a lot of things, it's still the most accurate.
Asia Suler: (29:24)
But I am always searching for just the right lexicon for things.
Well, because one of the things about you is you're a stunning writer. You have this incredible gift with language and it was actually one of the first things I noticed about you is your way with prose. And there is a poetry to it and you do manage to capture. I guess that's something I admire, especially about your Instagram, is how you turn that platform into this conduit for wisdom and beauty, which isn't always. So I'd like to compliment you on that. And I wonder about your journey with writing. You said you were a freelance writer, so did you study something to do with that in college or was it just something you've always been passionate about? Or how did your journey with writing happen?
Asia Suler: (30:11)
Yeah. Writing was really the heart of my journey for a long time. So I grew up writing poetry and in high school really dedicated myself to that. Started a poetry slam club and entered poetry contests. And it was really the centre of my life. And then when I went to college, I was an English major and specialised in poetry. And I always wanted to be a writer, but I had no idea how that would be possible. And again, I think as we mentioned before, and as you brought up, we didn't even know what would happen with the internet in the next 15 years of our life. So at that time, it was, and it still is very hard to get a publishing deal, et cetera, but it was just hard to get your writing out there to get people to read.
Asia Suler: (31:08)
There were no alternative routes, it felt like. It seemed like the blog world was actually still quite small and this other world of going traditional publishing was really hard if you didn't have a name and you didn't have an expertise in a certain field or had a position at a university. And so I just didn't know how that would be possible. So when I moved to New York, I started doing freelance writing for different journals having to do with natural living and green beauty. And, yeah. So I kept my writing chops up in that way. And then I decided to start a blog. I was like, "I'm going to do this blog thing." And then I really realised through starting One Willow Apothecaries that so much of what spoke to people in my work was my writing, that the writing that accompanied different products and different offerings wasn't secondary to the healing that people were experiencing, it was a part of it. And so it's been really cool to just watch the world evolve and see how there's so many more avenues now for writers to express themselves and to have their writing reach who it's meant to reach. So, yeah. I am very excited actually to announce that my first book will be coming out next year.
Yay. I was going to ask, because I saw you say in another interview, "I want to write a book." So I was like, "It has to be happening."
Asia Suler: (32:37)
Do you have a publish date?
Asia Suler: (32:38)
I do. It'll be next June, June 2022. So it'll be a little ways away. The publishing world for you, it's amazing how just much time and energy goes into it. But, yeah. It's something I started working on, at this point, eight or nine years ago, started collecting pieces for not totally sure how they were going to fit together. And the book really took me on a journey to understand it and therefore understand myself and what it was I was bringing through in my writing, which the book centres on and what I think a lot of my writing has centred on in the past 10 years of my life, this concept of learning self-compassion through interacting with a sentient world and that the living world really wants us to see and recognise our goodness because it is through seeing ourselves and seeing our goodness and accepting our worthiness and our beauty that we access our gifts, the gifts that we're meant to bring to this planet.
Asia Suler: (33:42)
So I really have experienced myself interacting with the living world through these affirmations of love and support and these reflections that I'm natural and what I'm going through is normal and natural as an earthling on this planet, that I've received so much from that. And I think this is a natural part of being a human being that we are in this relationship, really, with the parent of the earth, this parent that actually never forsakes us and has always been there for us and is helping us to really step into that power because that power is what will change the tide of our culture and our world. So anyways, that is what the book is about and that is what I've realised I've been writing towards in these past 10 years and been just so passionate about.
Asia Suler: (34:39)
And I just feel so grateful that this childhood dream that I had of being a writer has now become a reality through just all the different avenues and tools that we have in this day and age.
I love that sense that I just heard from that, that the earth is providing that mirror of your divinity that you were talking about providing. So there's this beautiful kind of ... Yeah. I guess your journey is now something you're able to offer others. I worked in publishing, so I know the suffering of authors and I also know the industry and I think it's such a, again, one of those things you can't see, but to do what you're doing and to then publish into the world that you've created for yourself, it's the best case scenario because, like you said, it's this culmination of your journey and then there's this tangible thing at the end that you're able to share and then you'll build on that. Yeah. It's really exciting. Can't wait to get a copy.
So I wanted to talk a little bit about your writing still. There's an amazing post you did called Nice Girl, Kind Woman. I hope I got that right. Obviously you remember that piece I hope. And I, like probably many women, reading that was like, "Ooh, that's some powerful writing right there." And I guess I'm wondering if that theme is what your healing around your vulva and all of this kind of stuff? Is that the essence or the distillation of what that journey was for you, or is that a bit too simplistic? And could you tell us a little bit about what you were pointing to in that piece? Because I think it's a really important topic.
Asia Suler: (36:26)
Yeah, sure. So the piece is called Nice Girls Versus Kind Women, and the piece is exploring the difference between the two and the reality that we're socialised in Western culture to be nice girls. So nice being something that someone decides for you. So you don't decide whether or not you're nice, that's dependent on how someone perceives you. Nice being someone who's agreeable and easy and accommodating. So that is in comparison and contrast to kind women. So a kind woman is kind because she's deciding to be kind. There's a sovereignty to it. You're deciding to be compassionate and loving. And sometimes that doesn't look so cosy. So goddesses can be kind. Goddesses aren't nice.
They are not.
Asia Suler: (37:25)
And I think this is important that we remember that the truth of what you might call feminine energy is, that it's not about being smoothed over and acquiescent and agreeable to all those you meet and flattering to all those you meet and putting people at ease, but it is in part about being kind. So it's a kindness, sometimes, to call people out on their BS. It's a kindness to stand up for yourself and for other people. And I think as an empath and a highly sensitive person, I've always been very aware of how other people felt. And because I was socialised as a woman, a lot of times that defaulted to me being a nice girl, really putting aside my own needs, my own thoughts and feelings, and literally experiences in order to make someone else comfortable. I think a lot of us have been trained to do that.
Asia Suler: (38:38)
So the flip side of that would be, you can still be sensitive and empathic and deeply compassionate and caring and just be kind, starting with being kind to yourself. What would be the kindest thing to do right now at this moment? I have some stories in that blog. There was one story that happened after that blog that was just a really amazing distillation of this, which is that I was out hiking and came across this man. And I've never had a negative experience hiking here ever. But unfortunately this guy was really projecting a lot of violating creepy energy and started to make comments about myself and my body. And we were alone on this trail far away from other people. And I think in the past, I might've defaulted to being the nice girl. And I think it has been the case in the past that to be nice was to be safe. Our foremothers and in our matrilineal line, that's a code that's been embedded is I just need to keep myself safe right now and the best way to do that is to be nice.
Asia Suler: (39:56)
But I really asked myself what would I do if I was being kind, not only to myself, but to this person. It's a kindness to alert him to what's actually happening when he's expressing this to me. So I turned around and faced him. He was following me. And I turned around and faced him. And I just told him straight up what I was experiencing. I said, "The way that you're speaking and what you're saying to me, it's making me really uncomfortable. And here's why." It was almost as if this angelic force took over my body, because I said it with so much love. I just felt myself beaming love out of my eyes to this person. And just saying like, "Can you understand and see in this moment that this is actually really scary for me and you understand why that would be."
Asia Suler: (40:49)
Yeah. So I didn't say it with daggers. I said it with love. And it was like night and day. It was like I saw the blood drop out of his head or something. And he just mumbled some apology and turned tail and left. And it was just such a powerful moment for me to realise like, "Oh my goodness. It is powerful to be kind and it is protective to be kind and kindness means standing in your power and seeing another person's power in its truth." Not in the ways that they're abusing it, but their power to be good and their power to be kind to themselves. And, yeah. I think this was definitely a part of my journey with vulvodynia and chronic pain, I don't think it was all of it, but I think that just the cultural conditioning that is inside of us is absolutely acting on us all the time and the stress that those stories cause, the stress alone of those stories can really cause actual physical malfunction in our bodies. So to start rewriting that story, I think it is essential.
Well, because I guess I think about ... There's another story you share in that article and I'll link to it in the show notes for this, but around being in a hot tub and someone grabbing you. And I relate to that, where you're just like, "I'm just going to get out of here," instead of confronting the situation. I think a lot of women I've spoken to and worked with have had those experiences, where it's not "proper rape" or anything like that, but it's inappropriate touch or inappropriate behaviour and we're not taught how to handle it. And a lot of us do default to don't rock the boat, just get out of the situation and stay safe. And I think, I know for myself in my own work around ... Yeah. I mean, just in your Pussy Portal, I'm heading there, but I've done a lot of work with my vagina over the years and had a beautiful home birth with my first daughter.
And I think a lot of the reason I was able to do that was because of the healing I'd done over the years. I had chronic pain when I first went on the pill when I was 17 or 16. And I didn't realise ... Now I'm completely aware of what was going on, but it was not being able to communicate about sex, having inappropriate sex. It wasn't like I was ... It was with one partner, but I wasn't able to communicate my needs. So it was tensing up and then the pill hormonally was causing dryness and there was all this stuff going on. And I just thought I was broken. And I was this little girl just thinking everything was wrong with me. And over the decades of healing around that, it's been through internal work and through Dyadic work and Daoist practises and things that I've really come to value and almost worship that energy of how much power we hold as women. It's quite insane. And for me, my first pregnancy and birth was probably the culmination of recognising that, just really seeing and honouring, I guess, myself in that capacity to hold the power of that experience. And, yeah. I'm interested in your Pussy Portal, how you teach that and what practises and things you're encouraging people to explore through that work. Can you tell us please?
Asia Suler: (44:21)
Sure. Yeah. So the Pussy Portal is an online library of resources having to do with root healing. It's created for anybody who feels they have a pussy or whatever word you want to insert there. That is the word that I use often in the work and felt very guided to use that word as a reclamation. But everyone has different words that they like, and it's all beautiful. And, yeah. So there's a lot of different practises that are featured in the portal. We do have Jade Egg and uni massage and different tantric practises. We also have herbal support and herbal protocols for various things, including hormone balancing, yeast infections, BV.
Asia Suler: (45:09)
Yeah. There's so much. It's divided into four sections. So the idea of the portal is that when we're manifesting issues in the root of our body, it's because there's one of four relationships that's asking to be healed: your relationship to yourself, your relationship to others, your relationship to your ancestors, and your relationship to the earth. So within each gateway, there's a lot of resources focusing on those different areas of relationship. So everything from learning how to dance in a way that releases your pelvic floor and how to use your pussy as an oracle to actually understand what your truth is and make decisions. And there's science to back this up, that our pelvic floor and the nerves that innervate this part of our body are very connected into our nervous system.
Asia Suler: (46:03)
And then tantric practises and relationships to others and how to have sex that heals your vagina because what you shared about having these early sexual experiences that were not in alignment with you and that were not appropriate and that ended up causing harm is I think a lot of people's experience of having sex, which it doesn't have to be. Yeah. And so the ancestral portion goes into the ancestral, sometimes the transgenerational and ancestral trauma that can manifest in this area of our body. And that is just very real. If you're someone who has ovaries, then literally you at one point were an egg in your grandmother's body.
You've been through what she's been through.
Asia Suler: (46:54)
You've been through what she's been through. We pass these things down the lineage and they live in our roots. So there's a lot to explore there. And then the connection to the earth, I think is this frontier that I'm very excited about. The reality that this is the root of our body, this is how we root here on this planet. And so when we are ... I also think that there's been times, especially in Western history, because that's what I'm most familiar with, where this connection to this part of our body has been severed specifically to sever us from the connective power of being in alignment with the earth. And so when we have this part of our body flourishing, we're able to receive earth energy and earth power and be embodied and emboldened by [inaudible 00:47:47] as birthers, as you mentioned, people who literally bring forth new life, literal new terrain and land onto this planet. And so there's so much there that I'm really excited about exploring, and it's really my growth edge. But, yeah. Those are the four different categories we explore in the portal.
It sounds amazing. And I feel like those pieces are all loosely what I've experienced, especially the ancestral ones. It's really interesting because even though I had ... My midwife was like, "That was like a textbook home birth. It was perfect." And then I went to this shamanic pregnancy workshop four years later, my daughter was four and I was about to get married. And I sat through this experience with the 60 other women. And all I felt was shame and I couldn't work out where it was coming from. I was so ashamed of my birth and my experience. And then we did a journey and I came back that it was like my grandmother, not my mother, but her mother. My mum was adopted so I don't have a lot of stories about her. I don't really know her story, but I know she was a single mother and it was very embarrassing for their family. They were a [inaudible 00:49:05] family. It was really interesting to feel how I was carrying that shame. And I had to go on quite a deep process to move it through my buddy. And I was like, "Wow, this is an incredible experience." So, yeah. I can really relate to that ancestral piece as well. It's a big one. And you do a lot of shamanic work.
Asia Suler: (49:28)
Yeah. What a powerful story.
Yeah. I mean, it was a big day. I'm not going to say it's a pleasant experience, but it was a big day. But, yeah. You do a lot of shamanic work and I notice your relationship with herbs seems quite shamanic. I've read, and I don't know if this is true, that you said this or someone else, but that you see reishi almost like a psychedelic and that's been my experience working with her. I find, especially with meditation, it's like ... I can't even explain it. It's like a whole nother dimension of reality opens up when I work with reishi. And I know angelica is another one of your favourite herbs. So would you speak a little bit to that, I guess, other dimensional experience that you feel when you work with certain herbs or is it every herb that you have that with? Because I don't have it with every herb, just a couple.
Asia Suler: (50:15)
Yeah. I think all plants are these multidimensional beings and working with them helps us to recognise our own multidimensionality. I think certain plants speak more to certain people. I also think certain plants have sole missions and life paths of helping to open up certain gateways in that way. So there's certain plants that I'll use for shamanic type work for communicating with the other world and receiving divine guidance and other plants that function in a different way for me. But everyone's different in what they experience and receive, but I've always felt really connected to plants on that spiritual level. And it's part of why I wanted to go to herbal school because I was like, "If it was up to me, I would just make flower essences and have the plants talk to me all day and I wouldn't learn."
The practical stuff.
Asia Suler: (51:10)
The more physical aspects, the practical stuff. Which is not saying everybody needs to learn that, but it felt important for me if I was going to work with people and their health and suggest taking whole herbs that I learn that stuff. So, yeah. But always to me, it always pointed back to that multidimensional experience, that sort of spirit to spirit encounter with a plant and how transformative that can really be. And while I do think there are certain plants, for example, like you mentioned, reishi and angelica that I really use to open the portals of my perception and download information from the other world that I've been ... Over the years of teaching thousands of people how to open their own intuitive connections with plants, it's been amazing to see the plants that come in and change everything for them.
Asia Suler: (51:59)
It might be really different than a plant that came in for me, but it's absolutely perfect for them. And perhaps what it was that was blocking their intuition might be very different than what was blocking mine. And that plant was just the perfect ally for helping to dissolve that block and really step into this two way street of communication. So I think it is different for everybody, but just to know that if there's a plant that you're really excited about or you just can't get enough of, or you just want to be around that there's a reason for that. That plant is really reaching out to you, to interact with you and wants to help you in your healing. And so just listening to that impulse, getting yourself into a presence with that plant, working with that plant in whatever way you can, can really just ... It helps open that gateway of healing that the plant is already there nudging you towards.
One of the last things I want to touch on with you is your ... Because you do have this flavour of Daoism in your work and I'm interested in that. You've spoken of Jeffrey Yuen, so perhaps it's through him that I'll get back to that in a sec. One of my teachers, he teaches that the reason we need herbs is because plants and humans being perpendicular to the earth's horizon, we're in this journey between heaven and earth, so one of these Daoist concepts, and he's like, "Plants are really one of the few things that can help us with this process of reuniting ourselves between this root and the heavens." And I don't know if you have any thoughts on that, but I've always really related to that. He speaks of how animals' spines are aligned to the calmer of the earth based on their horizontal spine and this upright spine is the big distinction. And, yeah. I wonder if you have any thoughts on that and if you could speak a little bit to how the Daoist worldview, I guess, influences your work with herbs?
Asia Suler: (54:04)
Well, that's beautiful. I haven't heard that reference before, but I love it. I think it's so poetic and gorgeous. And this is I think a big part of why I've been so drawn to Daoism is the deep poetry that is inherent in their understanding. And I grew up, my father was really into Eastern philosophy. He was a psychologist, but one of his specialties was where psychology and Eastern philosophy meet. And so from a young age, I was exposed to things like Daoism and we threw the Yijing coins as a family and things like that. So it was always a part of my ethos. And I think the way that they describe what feels sometimes indescribable and to go into the idea of the Dao through this lens of poetry, which a lot of times these Daoist texts are poetry because that's kind of the only thing that can really capture this concept of the way the Dao, the unceasing flow of energy in life that you align yourself with.
Asia Suler: (55:16)
And so I love that aspect of Daoism and I love this the way in which Daoism has its roots in deeply mystical and animistic traditions, which I didn't know that term animism until later in life, but I realised that that's so much of how I experienced the world, animism being this idea that everything on this world is alive and animate and animated by spirit, energy, chi, as you would say in the Daoist tradition. So that languaging made a lot of sense to me. And also the way in Daoism where the opposites and polarisation is actually a conduit to wholeness. Whereas especially in Christian doctrine in the Western world, and then outside of Christian doctrine, which is one big foundation of Western thought is that, and then another is this rational materialism. It's like things are divided from one another.
Asia Suler: (56:23)
It's like the good and the bad and high and low and rational and irrational, whereas in Daoist thought forms and belief systems, actually the polarisation, the yin and the yang, it's part of this greater process of wholeness and within the yin is the yang and within the yang is the yin and that actually this process of dividing is a divine process of alchemy, of dividing and then coming back together. And when you come back together, you are creating more wholeness than there was before. And so to me, that just feels so much closer to the truth of what I experienced, even in my own journey that these disparate sides of me or parts of my life don't exist in these separate categories, but that they exist in separation because there [inaudible 00:57:15] to bring me back into wholeness the more I integrate them back into my own being. So, yeah. I'm perpetually fascinated by Daoist philosophy and it ended up just being a coincidence in some ways that it just ended up being a part of my work because it just spoke to me. And, yeah. Then I did end up studying with Jeffrey and his student, Sarah Thomas, who specifically specialises in the stone medicine aspects that he passes on. So it did end up becoming a part of my work, but I'm a perpetual student and always learning more just ever enchanted in that field.
Yeah. I can feel that generative aspect in your work of that academic part of you and I guess revive you, for want of a better word, and then how that generates this strength, this force that's carrying you through life. Yeah. It's a really beautiful metaphor. And I guess it's a good spot to leave it, I think. I wanted to thank you so much for your time. I know it's late where you are. I'm really grateful for you for spending the time with us. And I wanted to invite everyone to come and ... I mean, you've got amazing products. You've got your courses. They're on your website, but also through the Chestnut School, right? You're able to offer different pathways.
Asia Suler: (58:43)
Yeah. So my main work is on my website, Onewillowapothecaries.com. I am a guest teacher in some of the Chestnut School's programmes. So if someone was interested in Western herbalism, that would be a good place to go study. What I offer on my website is not traditional Western herbalism. It's what we've been discussing, more of these aspects of spiritual esoteric, holistic herbalism in earth medicine. But, yeah. I would love to connect with anybody there on the site and I'm also on social media on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram underneath my name, which is Asia Suler. So any of those places are great places to connect.
Yeah. I'll link to everything because, like I said, I love your Instagram and you're very generous. Your videos are great. Everything you do is very generous and very warm. So it's really nice to connect with you in that way. Yeah. Like I said, thank you so much. I'm really, really grateful and I can't wait to get my hands on your book next year. So congratulations again. It's very exciting.
Asia Suler: (59:50)
Thank you so much. This has been such a delight to be with you. Thank you for having me on the show. So welcome.
All right. Chat again soon.