Once described by a friend as “a country boy who happened to be born in the city,” Jonathan Hadas Edwards is the only child of George Edwards, a composer and professor of music, and Rachel Hadas, a poet and English professor. The family spent the academic year in Manhattan’s Upper West Side (where Jonathan learned to love New York pizza but failed to pick up much of a New Yawk accent) and headed to a rickety old house in Northern Vermont during the summer. There, with backpacks and city buses forgotten, life was about biking up and down the dirt roads, huddling around the fireplace on chilly mornings, and building an infinite variety of forts.
Jonathan’s healing path came into focus when his lifelong love of cooking and wild plants met with a family health crisis for which biomedicine had little to offer: in 2004 his father was diagnosed with Fronto-Temporal Dementia, took early retirement from Columbia, and began a slow and steady decline that was to shake the family to its core.
Meanwhile, with a background in Eastern religious studies and a passion for poori (the balloon-like fried bread), Jonathan traveled to India on a semester abroad program that focused on intensive Nepali language training. There in the Darjeeling Hills he was first exposed to Ayurvedic medicine and shamanic work. Returning to the States, he pursued interests in sustainable food systems, working at a progressive, vegetarian Indian restaurant in Montana and on a small farm rearing animals and growing vegetables in Vermont.
In 2008 he completed the Ayurvedic Institute’s 8-month program and returned the same year to Southasia, this time on a yearlong Fulbright grant which he used to Ayurveda in its native land. Over the course of his stay in Nepal, Jonathan got to see some of the many sides of Ayurvedic practice, both traditional and modern; to trek in the Himalaya, land of a thousand healing herbs, including the mysterious and much sought-after Yarchagumba (Cordyceps sinensis); and to undergo a 25-day Panchakarma cleansing retreat. He had the opportunity to spend a few days with a traditional, lineage-based pharmacist and alchemist in a traditional Newar town just outside the Kathmandu Valley. More than anything, it was this experience that spurred him to recognize the pursuit of ancient herbal medicine and allied traditions as a lifelong calling.
Returning to the US he spent a year studying Western herbs and practicing Taiji and meditation while plotting his next moves. He eventually found his way to Portland and NCNM’s Classical Chinese Medicine program and is now happily settled into the world of the 5 phases and 6 conformations. Alongside his focus on Shanghan Lun herbalism and Japanese meridian therapy, he continues to immerse himself in Western herbal traditions and in mysticism, with a recent focus in Afro-Brazilian religion and plant spirit medicine. He maintains Roots of Nourishment, a site dedicated to traditional medicine, and Ill Wind, a travelogue of journeys both external and internal. He would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.