HERBALIST PROFILE: Betty Aiken, Herbal Elder

originally published in The Canadian Journal of Herbalism WINTER 2007

The Ontario Herbalists Association has introduced a new sub-category of membership. Professional members who have at least 10 consecutive years with the OHA, whose age and years of professional practice add up to at least 85, and who the board feels represents those qualities appropriate for a respected healer in our community, will be awarded the title of ‘Elder’ and a certificate, and will receive a lifetime free membership in the OHA. Presently, we have one member who qualifies for this – Betty Aiken. Anyone who knows Betty will agree that she has given much to our association and to herbal medicine. She truly embodies the spirit and knowledge of herbs and is worthy of the title Elder.

I, Betty Aiken was born at home near Own sound, Ontario on February 17, 1929. I completed grade 10 and attended 8 months of Business College. I worked as a typist at the North Grey Registry office where all land deeds and records are registered. Then on June 17, 1950 I married and started raising a family.

As the world is a learning place, I began my journey in health research and testing in 1973. At the time I felt I had to find a way to help more people help themselves. This is when I started working with and testing herbs.

In 1979 I met Dr. Sir Leo Schafer of Schafer’s Health Centre Ltd in Unity, SK and Christina Richa Devi, the first President and founder of The Ontario Herbalists Association. These two people persuaded me to study Herbology. I started my courses in 1980 and 4 years later received my Masters of Herbology. As I got 100% in all my exams they gave me a Fellowship in Botanical Medicine at the same time.

In 1985 I received a Certificate of Proficiency in Anatomy and Physiology because I felt I had to have a fair knowledge of the body parts and organ functions in order to choose the herbs that would work with peoples’ bodies and improve their health. Give the body the right herbs and water and it will heal itself – you only get out of the furnace what you put in it.

In 1991 I received Professional status from the OHA.

If I had the chance to give any advice to the next generation of herbalists it would be this:

  • You should focus on education and study, study, study.

  • You should be positive, possibility thinkers.

  • You should be dedicated and have a good attitude.
  • You should do personal research, investigate courses, books, and learn from healers with experience.
  • You should use products and food that are organic and compatible with your body.

  • You should always eat your food in moderation.

  • You should wear clothing made from natural fibres whenever possible.
  • You should be aware of the damage that comes from accumulation or long term effects of heavy and light metals, sprays, chemicals, radiation, herbicides, fertilizers, Teflon, plastics, aluminium, contaminated water, and pollution.
  • You should educate yourselves to recognize your own symptoms, know your own body, and work on body, soul, and spirit.
  • You should share your knowledge with others.

  • You should do charitable acts with friends and community.

  • You should build healing circles with prayers and good vibes for people in need.

  • You should support older people and listen and learn from them.

  • You should help the next generation realize that the planet Earth needs their care giving now.
  • And last you should become aware of the energy fields and energy healing around you.

Money can buy a bed but not sleep.

Money can buy a house but not a home.

Money can buy medicine but not health.

You cannot see the whole world right,

Nor all the people in it.

You cannot do the work of years,

In just a single minute.

But keep one little corner straight,

Be humble, patient, labour

And do all the work that each hour brings,

And help your next door neighbour.

It is a great honour to be made the first OHA Herbal Elder and first Honorary Professional member.

May God bless you all and thank you,

Betty Aiken

On Volunteers

“The OHA exists to serve our herbal community but it depends entirely on volunteers to achieve these goals. If each member could give just a small amount of time, we would be able to move mountains..”

– Diane Kent, Canadian Journal of Herbalism Vol 28, No 1 – 2007, Letter from the President

As Healers

“A true healer such as a herbalist, from any tradition, would aid the patient in returning to balance and harmony, even if that meant discomfort. Seeking comfort and being symptom free are essentially antithetical to the healing process.

As healers, we need to know who we are in order to know what we are doing. We need to trust in the process of healing to bring about positive transformation of illness to open the channels of communication.”

– John Redden, Canadian Journal of Herbalism Vol 28, No 1 – 2007, Editor’s Desk – All That I Have Is that Which I Am