Juliette of the Herbs

And as this year winds down, I find myself spending more time inside making dinners with friends, sipping cordials and (of course) watching movies. One that I’ve recently (and finally!) seen is Juliette of the Herbs. It’s a movie about Juliette de Bairacli Levy, the Gypsy herbalist of Europe and pioneer of holistic veterinary medicine.

It’s a gorgeous film that chronicles her years of traveling, curing and learning from the nomads and peasant people of the places she visited. She authored many books–her herbals were very influential to American herbalists, and her poetry is divine.

I never got to meet Juliette. She passed in 2009. But in watching her speak in this film I’m touched by the brightness and simplicity of her spirit. Her laugh is very sweet and youthful, and her eyes are so kind. People like her inspire me. I am reminded of the simplicity of life that I long for, but don’t allow myself. She’s an example of being–not necessarily doing all the time. We live in a society where we feel that we have to keep up with everyone else…and we’re very fast. I definitely live this pace myself, and I wonder if that’s how I really want to live on this planet. Working with the healing plants draws me back to the simplicity of Nature and the abundance of healing. I, like many others (I’m sure), need this more than ever. In this film, Juliette embodies this way of life. She’s an incredible light.

She was a true lover of animals, and the way she interacts with them brings tears to my eyes. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading her herbals for animals, but as I’m now a feline parent, they’re at the top of my list.

If you ever get a chance, make some tea and watch this film. In closing, I’ll post one of her poems below. Enjoy!

Gypsy Lane
by Juliette de Bairacli Levy

You shall die, and I shall die!
Take our places in the sky.
You and she, and he and I,
When the time comes, all must die.
That’s a game we would play,
Man and woman, girl and lad,
In gypsy camps far away,
Laughing times, yet passing sad.

Poppy crowns for everyone,
Red rose for the fairest one.
We would shout, King Death to come,
Laughing loudly, turn and run.
Then more the cry! Who will die?
Nor he, nor she, and not I,
Want that fearful power to fly.

We would pass the hours that way,
Bed with Gypsies by cool streams,
Golden days of dance and play,
Harp and flute and tambourines.
But poppy crowns droop and fade,
Feet grow weary, hearts afraid.
Time kills all in Gypsy Glade,
Flower and tree, man and maid.

Gone the Gypsies, every one,
All who played the Gypsy game,
Left the earth, its mirth and fun,
Starry nights and hyacinth lane.
None can play that game alone,
Thus I want to hear the cry,
Come now! Leave thy earthy home,
Join the Gypsies in the sky.

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