Jonathan Hadas Edwards, MS, LAc.
I was following a fairly conventional path towards a career in the sciences until life threw me a couple of curveballs. One was that my father, the composer George Edwards, began slipping away in his early fifties due to early-onset Alzheimer's. Modern medicine had little to offer besides sedatives and suppressive therapy. I felt there had to be a better way of approaching healthcare, and through this deeply painful experience I swore to find it.
The second curveball was the health struggles of my own that I began having not long afterward: digestive troubles that were linked in some mysterious way with mood and energy swings that undermined my confidence and left me confused and frustrated.
During a semester in India in 2005, I was exposed to ideas from Tibetan and Ayurvedic medicine; my interest was piqued. By 2007 I wound up at the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico for a year-long study program. The next year I returned to South Asia on a Fulbright fellowship to Nepal. I thought I was going to study food culture and religious ritual. But I arrived already sick to my stomach after a stopover, so my very first morning in Kathmandu I dragged myself to the bazaar and asked for an Ayurvedic physician. The medicine I received helped immediately. It wasn't long before I switched my research topic to Ayurveda. At this point I was still coming from a purely scholarly angle. But that changed when, near the end of my grant period, I met a Keshab Laal, an elderly last-of-his-lineage Ayurvedic pharmacist-physician.
Where other practitioners had closed their doors, Keshab-ji welcomed me into his home and his heart. We spent several days together talking about all things herbal. He quizzed me, told stories and case studies, and showed me his impressive collection of handmade medicines. It was heartbreaking to learn that he had no one to carry on his tradition. I left feeling called to carry the torch as best I was able, if not for Keshab-ji's lineage then for others like it. I resolved to become an herbalist to bring these beautiful, potent medical arts to others like myself.
Back in the States my path led me to a masters program in Classical Chinese Medicine at NUNM in Portland, OR. Acupuncture was part of the curriculum, and I realized that this, too, was a beautiful way of applying the cosmology that resonated so strongly with me. While in Portland, I took every opportunity to delve into the world of local Western herbalism and plant spirit medicine as well. During this period, finding myself in the midst of a challenging initiatory cycle, I learned that one does not become a healer through study alone. Partly out of a desire to help others avoid the worst pitfalls of such tumulteous and transformative times, I've co-created a course called Midwifing Metamorphosis.
My interest in the I Ching and mantic arts blossomed during this period and in 2013 I wound up traveling to West Africa for a deep dive into the related system of Ifa divination; the medicine I received there helped ground me and guide me. I've remained actively interested in the intersection between mantic and medical arts, disciplines that have traditionally gone hand in hand across cultures--the rabbit hole is deep but rewarding.
After graduating with an MS in East Asian Medicine in 2014 I started working at Brooklyn Acupuncture Project and in private practice. While getting my feet under me as a practitioner, I continued to explore ritual and spiritual healing methods, training in 2016 in the Ancestral Lineage Healing method, through which I met my wife, Julia Hartsell.
These days I'm based in beautiful Silk Hope, NC, where Julia's and my fledgling organization, Heartward Sanctuary, forms a home for much of our work and play.
Peak experience: trekking in the Annapurna region, June 2009. Without Ayurvedic and Tibetan herbal medicine, I wouldn't have reached 17,600 feet