Ten Life Lessons From My 1992 Herbal Apprenticeship

In 1992 I was an herbal apprentice for three months for a self-identified Green Witch. While I did learn quite a bit about how to identify and use wild plants for medicine and food, I learned these life lessons as well.

  1. When someone doesn’t do something exactly as you want it done: rage. Throw things at them. Insult them. Scream. Get your emotions out, it isn’t healthy to keep things bottled up.
  2. Never tell people exactly how you want things done.
  3. Make people pay money to work for you. Set the fee for the apprenticeship twice as high as you want it to be. Then let apprentices work half of it off by working for you at $10 an hour.
  4. Never give discounts to friends and family. You’d have tons of ex-lovers wanting something from you. Just don’t do it. Ever.
  5. Do give  full scholarships to women of color. It would be racist not to.
  6. Never clean. That’s what apprentices are for. And if it’s only December and your apprentice doesn’t arrive until mid March or April so much the better. Then they’ll have something to do the minute they arrive. “You want to move into this room? Dig it out.”
  7. Ignore people who arrive early. They are encroaching on your time. Why should you alter your day and give up your time for people rude enough to arrive before they are due.
  8. Never make things comfortable for others. You’ll create co-dependence and people come to expect things from you. If someone wants a pillow to sit on or a blanket to keep themselves warm, let them figure out if these are available and get them themselves.
  9. Don’t answer the phone unless it’s Wednesday. This was a big one in 1992. No cell phones, no mobile devices. No texting. Just the ring ring ring of a house phone. Let the answering machine pick up. Unless it’s Wednesday.
  10. A pair of geese make better guard dogs than dogs. You can eat the eggs and they won’t eat your goats.
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