The Alabama Herbalist - Who am I?
My name's Dewayne Allday. I am an Alabama native with a southern ancestry so deep that Harper Lee would be hard pressed to deny our double cousin kinship. I spent my childhood roaming the hills and valleys of Marengo County, Alabama which is where my mother's ancestors settled in the Great Migration time period. My cousin, and author of Alabama's Mitcham Wars - Essaying Mortal Wounds, Jerry Elijah Brown is familiar with the adjacent county of my father's ancestors, Clarke, Alabama, where my Great Great Uncle Lee Roy Brown (and Jerry's grandfather) was almost indicted for killing a notoriously rogue detective nicknamed "Pink" in the tumultuous and vigilante confines of Mitcham Beat, while other cousins were dealing with (or in) a secretive hooded gang called Hell at the Breech. Unlike my great Great Great Great Grandpa Jack Brown, who was the first of the Brown tribe to move to Mitcham's Beat, and reportedly a witch and the meanest of all men - I'm not a witch, but instead try to think of myself as a likeable Christian fellow who loves to eat wild plants and use them to heal people as one of my great aunts, Harriet Hutto Mott did through local and extended travelling when she helped others with herbs sidesaddle off horseback, midwifing and sitting with sick folks in and around Clarke County, circa 1800's.
Currently working in Selma, Alabama, where influence of the famous past residing herbalist Edgar Cayce continues to live on - I'm a contractor by day and an herbalist by night.
More than Herbalism
My belief system leans towards the eclectic side of herbalism with a hint of a holistic approach - combining good diets, exercise, relaxation and healthy lifestyles with medicinal plants for healing. I believe in more than just using plants to treat symptoms, but instead to change lifestyles and incorporate plants for maintaining health, alleviating or even curing disease. I strongly believe in all aspects of strengthening the immune system. I also believe that stress can kill us as quick as disease, even encouraging disease. I believe there is balance in the universe, and so must it be also in our lives.
As the great herbalist and Appalachian philosopher Tommie Bass once said "I always did believe that God never did make no mistakes. He never made anything He didn't make a remedy for. The Lord's put something out there if we would only get out there and hunt it."
A bit of history
There wasn't a lot to do as a child except roam the woods. At the time, Sweet Water, Alabama was too country even for the Boy Scouts. I tell people that we lived so far back in the sticks that Marijuana couldn't even find the place. Looking back as a teenager decades ago, the color photographs of wild edible plants in my otherwise black and white U.S. Army Survival manual mesmerized me. Being dependent on nature and not on the grocery store represented freedom to me. It was that first introduction into edible wild plants in the back of that Survival Manual was the catalyst for my lifetime interest in Edible & Medicinal Wild Plants. My mother gave me my first book on herbalism as a boy - but for years, I focused on the edible side of wild plants. Originally I just wasn't as interested in the medicinal value of wild plants because I was rarely sick. As I grew older, I saw the loved ones around me beginning to need medications. Prior to the internet age, foraging for wild plants was a lonely hobby, but over those years, I amassed a decent library of books and experience on the subject. Then I ran across the forager who calls himself Green Deane at www.eattheweeds.com. He introduced me to the Southern Herbalist, Darryl Patton of Gadsden, Alabama at www.thesouthernherbalist.com.
The Patton - Allday PartnershipAt Patton's very first survival class around five years ago, I began talking with others whose lives had been made better by using plants for medicine. Some of the stories were nothing short of miraculous. Then I got sick with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and along with Doxy to slow down the reproduction of the disease, I used herbs to build my immune system which actually killed it- I became a believer. Darryl thought me worthy to be his apprentice for long term training of herbal medicine. He became both my mentor and my best friend. We formed a partnership. He promised to never give up on me, and I promised to never give up on my herbal studies and helping people. Fate? Yes, I think so. One day at Darryl's house, I saw a few of the very same copies of the favorite magazine of my youth called Wilderness Way Magazine. I had purchased those same copies over 20 years earlier. When I asked him about them, he said "Yes, I was the publisher". I looked on the inside cover. Yes, he was. This was no coincidence. Darryl himself apprenticed and spent twelve years with his friend and mentor "Tommie Bass" who to this day is widely recognized as one of the south's greatest mountain herbalists.
I'm both lucky and honored that it's through this partnership we have formed, Darryl and I are creating a southern branch of his herb school and we are going to call it Deep South Center for Herbal Studies. I will begin teaching a few six week herbalism programs over the summer and fall in an effort to get the word out to those wanting to commit to a longer term herb school in the south Alabama area.
I'm committed to the field, and it's my hopes to: