Kristie Nackord is the heart and hands of Spirit Horse Herbals, a boutique producer of plant-based medicinal products. Here, Kristie speaks to us about her inner beauty and outdoor path in Westcliffe, CO.
What was your first inspiration to become an herbalist?
There isn’t an exact moment or experience that I can pinpoint when I realized I wanted to be an herbalist. It was just something I Knew. To be honest, I have never called myself an herbalist. Maybe I am, but I haven’t attended a traditional herbal school, attended any herb courses, or received any certifications. I deeply honor those who have chosen that path and have often thought that I should, it just hasn’t turned out that way. So far, I’ve chosen another route~
And here is the story…
Back in 2006 I was living with my partner of 5 ½ years on a beautiful 10-acre ranch in the woods of northern California. I was surrounded by animals, tending a wonderful food and herb garden, and working from home as a marketing professional. Everything appeared to be cool. But I felt like something was dying, that my light was dimming, and I was scared. I had a sense that there was more and a longing for something, knowing I would recognize it if I saw it. I kept trying to fill it with things. But nothing ever lasted. The sense would come back. I kept looking.
I had already met my Teacher, Jill, and would travel to Colorado to her horse ranch to study. Every time I would go to her ranch, I would feel myself in new ways. I would walk in the pastures amongst the horses and wildflowers at the base of these incredible mountains.
I could feel my feet on the earth in a way that I hadn’t experienced before, yet it was so familiar. I began to reconnect with my Heart.
In June 2006, I went to visit my Teacher and it was during this visit that I finally realized what I was looking for: Me. I knew it was time for me to immerse myself in my studies. Within 30-days, I had packed up a few of my things, my horses, and my 2 dogs, said goodbye to the man and to the many wonderful memories and experiences. I drove to Colorado.
It has been almost 5-years that I have been apprenticing my Teacher full-time. People often ask me, do I study plants? Do I study horses? The answer is simple. I study myself. The focus is inward. My apprenticeship is about healing the mind and all of its wild illusions and reconnecting with the Truth and feel of my Heart. This process has led to a very natural and organic connection with the plants and the earth herself.
How do you learn about herbs?
I learn from the herbs themselves! I just love to hang out with plants. When a particular plant crosses my path in some way, shape or form, I take notice. We’re obviously together in a shared reality, so there is resonance there. The journey is then about discovering, through feel, what that resonance is about. That journey often takes time which is why I completely admire the elders who have been doing this work on the earth for decades. All of the wisdom they have gained through experience over the years, there is no way to rush that process. I just get to allow it and therefore, I get to cultivate patience.
And let’s be real, I LOVE the internet! There are so many cool people out there with so much knowledge about plants and gardening and even if they don’t specifically grow herbs, they have a lot of wisdom to pass along. Thank the goddess for the internet and sites like Poppy Swap! I readily find inspiration from other herbalists and folks using herbs in their everyday life.
What kind of products do you make?
I make an assortment of products such as teas, body oils and salves. My goal is to grow and wildcraft all of the herbs I use in my products. But we have less than a 90-day growing season, add in summer hail storms and a SERIOUS wind and growing at 8300 feet becomes a mighty challenge. I am part way to reaching me goal and the end result is some very POTENT medicinals made with courageous and strong plants.
Where do you like to harvest? What’s your process?
My herbal wonderlands are: the garden I tend to and love, the fields where the horses roam here at Spirit Horse, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range. Literally the trailhead is 2 miles from my doorstep and starts at 9,000 feet in elevation rising to 14,000 at many peaks These mountains are graced with incredible botanical life. And animals, too!
What’s your favorite herb to work with? What has it taught you?
My friend, Calendula officinalis~
This spirited being has helped me to see much about myself. Last year, I was doing all that I could to get her seeds to germinate but had no success. Knowing that everything on the ‘outside’ is a reflection of the inside, I looked within for the reflection and the message to be found in the experience. Once I ran out of people and places to blame (including myself) for the reason why calendula wasn’t germinating, I realized that I was trying to bring to life, one of the most healing, compassionate, and nourishing plants on this earth during a time when that level of nourishment and compassion for myself was lacking. I was expecting her to do something that I wasn’t able to do for myself. This beautiful plant friend reflected this lesson to me.
Last season, I ended up buying many flats of calendula seedlings from a renowned herbalist in my area and grew calendula successfully in the garden. This spring, it was time again to try to germinate my healing herbal companion. Ambitious and anticipating the outcome, I sowed hundreds of calendula seeds not knowing how the journey would unfold. Three days later they all sprouted. Imagine that!
Where do you find inspiration?
Much of my inspiration comes from sitting and being with women and sharing together. We totally ROCK! I also connect with my inspiration by being with the horses, hence part of the reason why I named my business, Spirit Horse Herbals. It was to honor them and the profound role they have had in my life since I was a child.
Thanks Kristie! WE LOVE WHAT YOU DO!!