All people deserve to be taken care of. This is the core tenet behind Chiron's Apothecary, a line of herbal remedies founded by Mamie Wartelle, whose life journey has lead her to explore a myriad of spiritual and healing modalities, including herbalism, Ayurveda, astrology, and plant medicine.
We all have a healing story. Chiron, the namesake of the apothecary, is the archetype of the wounded healer - an individual who derives the spiritual strength to heal others through their own emotional wounds. Accepting our suffering turns empowers us to turn that hardship into healing.
At Chiron's Apothecary, Mamie weaves her years of experience and training in clinical herbalism, Ayurveda, astrology, yoga, alchemy, and nutrition into a practical approach of health and healing that’s accessible to all.
In this interview, we talk about what lead Mamie to starting her own apothecary, the Greek myth about Chiron the centaur, how herbalism can help us heal, and more.
What led you on the path of herbalism and starting your own apothecary?
I was always on the herbal path without even knowing it, masked within a healing journey. I was always searching for something outside of myself to heal my heart, my body, my mind, my spirit, and it wasn’t until I found the plants that I found the healing I was seeking. I knew then that it was my calling to help others on their own journeys of physical, mental, and emotional healing, and the apothecary was born.
Chiron, as you explain on your website, is the archetype of the wounded healer. Can you tell us a little more about Chiron in Greek mythology, and what this archetype means for us in the modern age?
In Greek mythology, Chiron was the centaur - half horse, half man - son of Cronus (Saturn) and a sea nymph named Philyra. He was abandoned by his parents as a young child and was raised by the plants and animals of Mount Pelion. Eventually, he was found by Apollo (the Sun god) and his twin sister Artemis (the Moon goddess), who adopted him and taught him the ways of the sacred arts: music, healing, plant medicine, archery, philosophy - everything he needed to know in life. Because he was so connected to these teachings, he spent his life sharing the healing arts to the demigods like Hercules, Achilles, and Jason of the Argonauts.
As the story goes, Hercules drunkenly, yet unintentionally, shot Chiron one night with a poisonous arrow (that Chiron taught him how to make in order to defeat the Hydra) which sent Chiron on his own healing journey to heal the wound that he would suffer from for eternity (hence, the wounded healer).
Although he was never able to heal his wound, he created thousands of healing modalities in the process of trying. Ultimately, Chiron chose to trade places with Prometheus who was chained to a rock for eternity for giving fire to mankind. In doing so, Chiron was gifted mortality for his quest was finding the answer to “how can one truly live if one can never die?” After death, Chiron journeyed to the underworld and within his heart, both realms of the above and below collided, unifying into one. Chiron was then re-immortalized into the heavens as the constellation Sagittarius.
The story of Chiron is a representation of the healing journey, embracing not only life but death, bridging the light (above) with the darkness (below), and helping others to heal through facing our own wounds and sufferings. Human suffering is and will always be a part of this life. But if we can accept that, and learn to view it as a journey, then we aren’t suffering anymore… we’re healing. In order to heal ourselves or others, we must first suffer. This makes suffering and healing one in the same - facing our wounds is healing. Ignoring them is suffering.
We all know pain, and we live in a world that is seldom fair and just. Yet, imagine a world where we choose to rise up from our traumas, ultimately living our fullest potential and helping others to do the same. We are all healing, and now more than ever we need each other to show up as our best selves. Not only for the betterment of our individual lives, but for the greater good of humanity.
How can herbs function as powerful allies for aiding us in facing our shadows and healing our traumas?
Philosophically, I believe that it is only through the natural world that we can truly begin to heal. When wonnecting to the elements of which we are made, we in turn deepen our connection to our self. Trauma can throw off our natural state of balance and harmony, and healing is about returning to balance and returning to our natural state of existence. Harmony is nature, and nature is harmony. Plant allies serve as the gateway to a greater understanding of who we are, and when we are disconnected from nature, we are disconnected from life itself.
On your site, you say that Chiron's Apothecary is informed by Ayurveda and astrology. Can you speak a little more to this?
Both Ayurveda and Astrology are based upon the elements of earth, wind, fire, water, and ether (spirit) and contain within them a cosmological framework from which to live our lives. It is from this elemental pattern that life is created, and through learning to balance our internal reality with our external reality we are able to live a life more harmonious with the natural world. Chiron’s Apothecary was born from this pattern of creation and continues to grow through it season after season, cycle after cycle.
How does Chiron's Apothecary source its herbs?
All the herbs used in the apothecary are grown organically at home, sourced from a local organic herb farmer who lets me harvest the plants myself, or sometimes wildcrafted near my home. Wildcrafting is a delicate subject and an even more delicate process which is why I make sure to only harvest from stands I know personally, only take what’s needed, always ask for permission, leave a gift in return, and leave the stands as if I didn’t touch them. I think the ‘leave no trace’ concept is equally applicable here as anywhere else and prayer, respect, and reciprocity go a long way with the plant kingdom.
Check out Chiron's Apothecary's Yarrow & Black Tourmaline Essence at The Alchemist's Kitchen.