Rasheeqa Ahmad

Rasheeqa (Hedge Herbs) is a medical herbalist in her community in Walthamstow, north London. She has been practicing since 2012, offering treatment with herbal medicine and teaching about its many aspects, alongside a wider mix of work aiming to reconnect us as communities with the potential of this knowledge. She is inspired by her early involvement with the Radical Herbalism Gathering, exploring how to make plant medicine accessible and restore balance to its practice in the contexts of systemic inequalities and oppressions that are part of our shared histories.

She is part of Community Apothecary Waltham Forest, a social enterprise that brings community members together around a patchwork of medicinal herb gardens where they can learn about growing and making medicines together, exchanging knowledge and peer support. She was also a co-founder of the Mobile Apothecary in Bethnal Green, a street medicine distribution project bringing solidarity herbal healthcare to people from rough sleeper and less well-resourced communities there.

Describe the nature around you at the moment.

Now, I’m working indoors! So, I am surrounded by the nature of home - plants, herbs in jars and bottles, cones and seedpods, leaves and stones. The gatherings of the outside world giving their energy to the inside space.

Name a place where you feel most at ease.

Walking in wild open land, up hills, swimming in water of the earth.

How has Community Apothecary strengthened your connection to nature?

Working with this project has deepened my intimacy and visceral relationships with soil, creatures, the cycles, lives and energies of plants and my ever-shifting realisations about our place in the wild world - it holds such a power and an intelligence that comes from a profound depth of time. We are children playing in an incredible garden and we have the capacity to relate in more healthful fitting ways with ‘nature’ and each other through being open-hearted and humble in the world.

What lessons have you learned from plant medicines?

They know much more than we do! They are enormously multifaceted and often mysterious, interacting and dancing with us, our bodies and spirits in ways that, rather than intellectualise (well, we try), make more sense to feel - becoming aware of subtlety and our inner shifts. Also, they have taught me to be careful, present and intentional.

Which song, book or poem nurtured your relationship with nature?

This is one that I am sometimes laughed at (and in current times, critiqued) for, but reading the Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery as a child, there was such a strong thread of nature worship that it stayed with me until now. Also, Indian folk stories relating to wild ecosystems and the sacredness of the world around us.

What are you interested in at the moment?

Learning to draw as a way to express life.

What kind of ancestor would you like to be?

One that made the possibility for descendants to live in more healthful systems and be in gardens sharing beautiful work and communality rather than being forced into capitalist slavery and destructive practices.

What’s your experience of intergenerational conversation and the natural world in your context? (question from #TheNatureKind interview with choreographer J Neve Harrington)

Hearing the deep embedded knowledge and stories of my Indian family, especially but not only the aunties, about growing plants, their special qualities and the importance of their place in the world - communing with plants as elders to try to understand their energy.

What question would you like to ask to the next person on #TNK?

What’s your favourite plant medicine experience?

And could you suggest someone else or other organisations you admire that we could approach for #TheNatureKind.

Taey Iohe, artist practitioner and Claudia Manchanda, radical herbalist.

You can find out more about Rasheeqa here and Community Apothecary here.

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