• Nicole Bishop

Interview with Melanie Hill: The Magick of Clinical Plant Medicine

While I love writing & sharing information on this platform, my forever passion lies with doing interviews with people who not only inspire me in the work that I do but also deeply inspire me as a person. I've had the pleasure of knowing Mel for many years, both of us growing up in what was once a very small & borderline rural community, that we have since moved back to & started our businesses in. Mel is someone I have always described as a true "earth mama" & I could very happily listen to her talk about her thoughts & opinions on any topic under-the-sun. Since becoming a Clinical Herbalist & opening her studio, Rosewood + Silver, Mel has offered & continues to offer a beautiful level of wisdom to our physical community in Collingwood, but also a really important philosophy & approach to the realm of "wellness" across the board.

Mel is a truly beautiful soul who effortlessly walks between the mystical & the material worlds which could probably be a sign of her glowing Piscean Sun, so when she agreed to let me interview her I was beyond thrilled. Read on find out more about her relationship & work with herbs, her creative & spiritual practices, her advice for others looking to walk a similar career path & more.


Sun/Moon/Rising: Pisces / Virgo / Libra Human Design Type: Manifesting Generator Pronouns: She/Her Born: Collingwood, ON, - February 21st, 1989 8:35pm Currently Residing in: Eugenia, ON Favourite Song: Oh wow, that's impossible, I think. According to my computer, I listened to "Thank You" by Bonnie Raitt a lot this past year which sounds about right. Favourite Film: I'm so bad at favourites, because I love deeply & have a lot of moods. I think my longest standing favourite is the 1990's "Little Women". Favourite Colour: Any colour offered in nature. I specifically thought of my love for the deep grey-blue of the ocean or Georgian Bay on an overcast day. Places to Discover: Places I've been: the south shore of Nova Scotia, anywhere in California, Oaxaca state in Mexico & upstate New York. Places I'm longing to discover: Amalfi coast, Azores, Ireland, Argentina, Antarctica, New Mexico & the Yukon. Favourite Herbs: Can you choose a favourite child? In this moment--Skullcap. Favourite Books or Authors: Anything written by Mary Oliver, Braiding Sweetgrass-Robin Wall Kimmerer, & I really love Joan Didion, Alice Munro & Lydia Davis Creative/Artistic Mediums: Photography & Ceramics I think are the ones i'm most drawn to. Curation or setting up a space is also a creative practice I love. Can you share a little bit about yourself & when you discovered your connection to magickal & mystical realms? I'm Melanie Hill, I'm an herbalist & wellness shop/herbal dispensary owner in the Petun/Wendake-Nionwentsio/Anishinabewaki/Missisauga Nations {Collingwood}. I'm a lot of other things in the grand scheme of life, but those are some of my day-to-day roles.

I honestly cannot remember a specific moment in life where I discovered magickal & mystical themes in my life, I think there was always just an inherent pull. I was very blessed to grow up surrounded by people who were very connected to plants, nature, & spirituality. My primary caretaker other than my mum, & grandparents is an indigenous woman from the Oji-Cree community & instilled in me so much wisdom & knowledge that was massive in forming my spiritual beliefs. She will forever be deeply impactful as an elder to me. I also have had so many women in my life inspire me & call me to connect to a higher power, whether that be through breath work, tarot, meditation, or kundalini. I don't think I actively seek for those realms as much as my interests & life path tend to align that way.

What is the meaning behind the name of your brand, Rosewood & Silver?

Funny enough, I got the name from a homemade tape I found on the side of the road while I was living in Toronto. It was a bizarre collection of New Age music that someone had clearly made, & photocopied some album art. I thought the name was beautiful & really reflects the different elements of the earth & its medicines.

What drew you into the world herbs & becoming a clinical herbalist?

It wasn't exactly a cut and dry decision. I actually started my secondary education in the arts taking curatorial studies & comparative literature, but quite quickly became disenchanted with the traditional educational system & knew I needed out. I had always been a keen student, but I felt what I needed was beyond the confines of a classroom. I dropped out in my third year to embark on a sort of rogue "farming trip", which meant me & my childhood best friend went WOOFing (worldwide opportunities on organic farms) along the west coast from California to B.C.. It changed my life & the course of it too. When I returned to Toronto, I bounced around jobs that led me into the realm of food security, urban farming, etc, etc. I knew I needed a component in my career that dealt with "helping people" because I get satisfaction & purpose out of supporting others.

Herbs had always been an interest since I was a kid & there were always "home remedies" offered to me throughout my life & I was always drawn to a more natural approach to healing my body. In my early twenties I read a lot about herbs & would buy different ones and experiment at home, but it hadn't really occurred to me that it could be a career or calling. In my mid-twenties I found a program that helped "legitimize" my interest in exploring herbs on a deeper level, which incorporated western science so things like botany, biochemistry & biology, with clinical practices & also herbal medicine. I immediately signed up & the rest is kind of history. While I was in school I discovered that working with clients came really naturally to me, & the process of hearing someone's story & being present for them was incredibly inspiring & lit me up. I loved distilling down their presenting issues with information about the past to arrive at the root cause of their issues. Such an incredibly exciting & interesting process that it just sort of unwound itself from there.

Do you have any rituals or practices that you do before you craft teas & other remedies? Or any rituals in general that you practice regularly?

I try to be really integrative with my daily rituals & practices in a normal daily routine. When it comes to crafting teas & different medicines, I prefer to be alone & I definitely go into a place of meditating on the plants & their 'personalities'. It's important to me to grow as many of the medicines that i use as possible to connect to them for the duration of their cycles & really get to know them like you would a friend. Feeling grounded is important & sometimes that means some deep breathing, sometimes it means lighting some candles & playing some music. Regular practices I do daily include yoga, mostly kundalini, journalling, at least an hour in nature & facial massage.

That all sounds so heavenly. What does your creative process look like?

It doesn't look like much! I keep a lot of it really internal, but it's a lot of notebooks, researching & reflecting. I never force creativity & let it just kind of ebb & flow. Sometimes it could look like jotting down a bunch of words or phrases or ideas that have come up, or it may mean taking a bunch of photos, or saving images into a mood board. I'm really into visual & written representation.

Do you have any other creative practices that you enjoy doing?

I think gardening, cooking & decorating my home are intense creative practices that drive me every day.

What grounds you or helps you decompress?

Cooking, reading, walking & hiking, petting my dog, swimming, & always a long chat & a laugh with a loved one. When do you feel your most creative? What inspires you? I would say the most common inspiration is time spent alone outside with my dog or travelling to new or familiar places that i'm revisiting with a new gaze. I am lucky to be surrounded by really creative people who are constantly bouncing their own ideas & processes off of me, & that's really inspiring & encouraging for me also.

My main inspiration are changes & shifts outside throughout the day & seasons, spending time in or around water, coastal architecture, natural textures, older women, vintage textiles, I could go on!

What are the other services you offer?

My offerings are in a major flux right now. Because of the pandemic, I've really been shifting & morphing what Rosewood + Silver is, & what I feel I can offer to clients at a distance. Seeing clients remotely is a challenge for me, as I prefer to see someone & feel their presence in person. I am admittedly not a huge computer person, but forcing myself to adapt to it. However, in the normal world, I also offer Cupping, Gua Sha and Tui Na which are Traditional Chinese Modalities. I have my diploma of Acupuncture, but won't be offering needling until i've completed my Ontario Acupuncture Board Exams. I look forward to that day.

Which herbs in particular do you wish people knew more about, or herbs that you think everyone

should incorporate into their regimes?

I think there's no one herb for anyone. Like I mentioned, each herb has such a personality & can offer so many different things to so many different people in different ways, much like other people do in our lives. It's all so, so very personal. However, I wish people would just integrate herbs into their lives every day period. There are so many different ways to consume herbs beyond teas or tinctures. We can eat them, apply them to our skin, take them as a flower essence...no herb is more important or useful than another. I think people have a tendency to jump onto trends & that just simply isn't the way plant medicine works.

Tonic herbs are good to take anytime, anyplace for anyone. I think my three faves for everyday consumption include: Nettles, Milky Oats, Lemonbalm and Tulsi.

What rituals or remedies are getting you through lockdown? Any tips for others? Honestly, sleeping a lot. One of the few blessings through this all has been the requirement to slow down. I think that sleeping & slowing down & tuning in to the rhythm of nature is super important, & constantly overlooked or ignored. Aside from that, daily long walks outside & being sure to check in with the people I love daily.

I suggest everyone leans into the quiet, & as much as you can, avoid resisting the call to slow down. Of course implementing lots of good water, good quality sleep, gentle movement, & a warming, nourishing diet are all so important for our mental & immune health right now, & of course...herbs! What do you want to see more of in the “wellness” realm & on the same note, is there anything you want to see less of? In terms of what i'd like to see less of in the "wellness" realm--there's a lot. Less racism, classism, conspiracy theories, trends & cure-alls. More compassion, inclusivity, inter practice support & creativity. What is a big misconception some people have about what you do or your industry in general?

That working in this industry is inherently woo-woo or guided by mystic ideas. I don't think that being considered woo-woo or mystic is inherently bad, but I do think it does discredit a lot of the hard factual aspects of the science of botany, plant chemistry & clinical applications of plant medicine. It's disheartening to have something you've studied for years to be considered a hobby, or pseudo-science, when that's just completely not true.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to others looking to start a path into herbs or holistic medicines?

I would say, take it slow, go deep & only work with what feels true and authentic to you. There are so many avenues & approaches in this realm, and there isn't one right or wrong way to take this journey. That's really beautiful advice. Do you have any projects on the go that you can talk about or share?

So many! Launching my first tea line in late November was a huge one, & i'm still working on that & expanding it to new offerings with the Spring Line which will likely include some tinctures & maybe some smoothie blends too. Lots of other collaborations with other amazing practitioners & artists as well.

Anything else you want to add?

Just a big thank-you to you for your friendship & your role in the community in bringing people together & lifting up fellow artists, creatives & seekers. It means so much to have ally's & tenders to the community.

You're amazing & I feel the exact same way about you. Thank you so much!

If you're interested in purchasing any of Mel's beautiful creations, you can find them at the following shops listed below. If you're interested in ordering directly from Mel or discovering more about Rosewood + Silver & her offerings, I highly encourage you to visit her website by clicking here. You can also find her on Instagram where she posts shop updates, product launches & more. For specific consultations or inquiries you can send her an email at hello@rosewoodandsilver.com

S H O P R O S E W O O D + S I L V E R

Seed in Collingwood, ON

Bread & Butter Co. Cafe in Thornbury

Likely General in Toronto

Two Faces in Guelph

GreatFull Goods + Practice Center in Saskatoon

+ many more to come

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