Influencer: Damiana Calvario
This page is part a new section on my site titled "Influencers", where I will begin telling the stories of historic figures of the past as well as present day people who are positively influencing our city. Today I will talk about local herbalist Damiana Calvario. Connecting with the earth should be a practice we all do regularly. Beyond the fact that if we love nature, nature gives back, it should be everyone's duty to help protect what we are intrinsically connected to.
Damiana grew up in Mexico City where her earliest memories with plants came from watching her abuelas work in the kitchen. Occasionally she would be asked to help make a tea or harvest plants from their gardens. Working with the land has always been an integral part of her culture.
Do you feel much of the wisdom you’ve gained was passed down or has a lot of it been intuitive/trial and error?
Both. I would say the foundations were definitely passed down on how to be in a relationship with and tend to plants as much as we can. I was brought up to include herbalism into everyday mundane tasks beyond just in ceremony. I went to an herb school in the U.S. and have teachers in Mexico that have provided me skills to have a pretty good idea of the how to's and why's before attempting to craft everything. A lot of it has been trian and error too though.
What influences did you have living in Mexico that helped you realize your passion for herbal medicine?
My biggest influences I would say are my family and the everyday life. How herbalism has been woven into our food and beverages while sharing meals with family and community. Another big part was my work doing urban agriculture and then later being a green garden teacher. ?
Where have you taught and are you still teaching presently? What courses have/do you offer?
In San Diego I used to teach at Wild Willow Farm. I have also taught at women’s gatherings, partnered with local small businesses in Mexico City & California and have been hosted at people's homes.
Right now everything is via Zoom on my own and I’ve also been invited to share for other herb schools or herbalism series. My offerings are seasonal and local. I share mostly about folk herbalism, remedy-making, traditional knowledge and food as medicine.
If people want to help support you or purchase your items, what is the best way to do so?
Whenever I post an offering on Instagram I write in the captions the instructions on how to register or purchase. Usually it’s just Venmo or I also trade a lot.
What are your future goals for yourself and your business?
For myself, I always strive to be intentional in my path and to keep showing up and using my privilege to serve as I’m asked. To be honest, I struggle being business-oriented and for the longest time I didn’t want to have one.
Today I realize that under this system it’s important for me to take care of myself and part of that self-care is economic stability. My main goal is sustainability, both in what I put out and also value the resources that go into my practice.
What are your wishes for your community?
I wish we could all be free of oppression & exploitation and particularly for 1st-generation immigrant women of color (big part of my identity) to have all the options they can dream of to be real choices. That includes what to eat, where to live, what career they want to pursue, parenthood, identity, etc.
What do you wish society as a whole better understood in regards to natural medicine?
I wish society as a whole realized that natural medicine addresses wholeness and our wellbeing at different levels, not just physical issues that might come up. It depends on the approach, but a lot of the herbalism I practice requires me to step outside the box and understand that western knowledge is not the only knowledge out there.
It's important to reclaim our own ancestral ways and to connect to the world outside of what we’ve normalized today.
Do you believe everyone should practice making their own medicine?
It’s hard for me to attempt to say that every single person in the world should be making their own remedies. I do wish everyone had access to their own ancestral knowledge and could decide if they wanted to craft in their own way.
Follow Damiana on her Instagram page!