Guest Post by Sarah Russo
I gravitated towards natural healing since I was a child. There has always been something alluring about finding medicine from the Earth. The concept that plants have compounds that directly interact and encourage our body’s own innate ability to heal is, to me, one of the planet’s greatest masteries.
I come from a family of doctors. My mom was a nurse and my dad a neurologist. My grandpa and uncle were veterinarians. I used to think I wanted to be an animal doctor and take over the family practice one day. But then I realized how much schooling would be involved, so I decided to pursue other interests. I was drawn towards studies of the environment and liberal arts, and became a self taught herbologist.
I knew that being a medical professional wasn’t right for me. But my own path to healing and helping encourage others on their journey is very much present. I have two chronic health conditions (an undiagnosed digestive disorder and polycystic ovary syndrome). I used to deny that I had anything “wrong with me”. I didn’t want to have my ailments stop me from doing anything. But I was frustrated. I’ve always had a healthy and active lifestyle. So I felt like a failure because I couldn’t make myself feel better.
But it wasn’t until recently that I had a moment of, dare I say, gratitude for my ailments. Because without them, I wouldn’t be able to see what I see. It gives me compassion for others. I also recognized that I never can be fully aware of the battles each person is confronting. From my perspective, chronic ailments can grant valuable insight and bring us to places we wouldn’t be without them.
For example, I have a great amount of compassion for anyone trying to navigate the healthcare system when trying to find a diagnosis. And when there are no names for “what you have”. And when medical professionals don’t believe you. And when they distill you down to a set of symptoms and send you off with a prescription that will hopefully give you some respite. The rigamarole of the healthcare system can lead to more frustration. And as a result, it takes a toll on your health even more.
Through my own healing pursuit, I connected with plants more deeply. Botanical remedies have blessed me with the power to live my best life. Plants offer many ways to explore health and wellbeing. Science may never be able to elucidate on the true healing capacity of botanical medicine. That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t try to find scientific discoveries to benefit our health. But research should not discount the energetic, vibrational, and spiritual aspects of the natural world.
Through my botanical love story and coping with the way that humans treat our environment, came the concept for Herbs for the Apocalypse. It started out as a nagging idea. It was at one point a full length novel. I had never done fiction before. And I had never attempted something close to a book’s length. After going through many drafts, beta reads, and a professional edit, I became discouraged. I decided to shelve the project. But the idea wouldn’t go away.
Herbs for the Apocalypse is an ode to plant medicine and a quest for justice during a challenging time for the Earth’s inhabitants. Nature has provided us with ample resources to help us heal and bring us closer to our higher collective evolution. With this vision, the project morphed into a platform for self empowerment through plant medicine and nature, and to listen and collectively fight for our ability to use this knowledge. And then I had an idea that rekindled the original vision of the story from the beginning. But with a twist. I decided to make it into a graphic novel.
Doing a comic book was another first. While I am artistic, the skill set for illustrating the story was beyond me. So I put a call out for artists and found Rokaya Taqi, an illustrator and animator whose aesthetic perfectly fit what I was looking for. She was the ideal person to help me build the Herbs for the Apocalypse world and tell Sofia’s story.
The graphic novel Herbs for the Apocalypse is a fusion of medical plant knowledge woven into a tale of resilience and resistance in trying times. Sofia Spinoza is a misanthropic luddite who grapples with her frustration at the human race for destroying the planet. Having quit her last job, she begins working at an herb shop. She doesn’t tell her new colleagues about the strong line of direct communication she has to the plants’ voices themselves. Some plants have monologues. And their messages only become louder. Between dealing with the shop’s quirky clientele, and navigating uncertain global times, she explores what it means to find peace of mind and acceptance.
We live in an unprecedented era, but we also have an invaluable collection of tools to collectively cope, heal ourselves, and build resilience in order to face what is to come. It’s a great time to connect to Mother Nature, our greatest ally, and respectfully learn from her therapeutic wisdom.
Herbs for the Apocalypse first emerged as a weekly Sunday Comic digital release on June 20, 2021. It’s a melding of the weekly column newspaper of the days of old and the funny pages. A chapter per week arrives along with a corresponding soundtrack of the tunes that inspired the story. The digital chapters are available for one week, and then they self-destruct. Those yearning for the archive will eventually have the print edition. It will be ready within a year. Stay tuned.
The story is in full swing and you can tune into the Herbs for the Apocalypse world, in a parallel universe just about a millimeter away. You may sign up for the Sunday Comic by contributing any amount to the crowdfunding campaign. It is pay-what-you-can. If you are unable to contribute at this time and would like to get the Sunday Comic, get in touch with us and we can work something out.
Read more about the comic here. Please consider supporting our gaggle of independent artists, collaborators, and plant inspired visions to collectively learn and fight for the right to utilize the gifts of All Mighty Gaia.
Thanks for finding yourself here of all places and spaces in the interwebs.