Natural Law Apothecary: An Herban Market
Amid the dust and noise of the industrial area near the People’s Freeway, a flower grows out of a crack in the concrete. Natural Law Apothecary rises out of the street shrouded by snaking vines and a plant-covered trellis in an otherwise dusty, grey environment. With roots in a fully self-sufficient homestead in Vermont, Natural Law Apothecary is the Salt Lake extension of the Bowen family’s life grown directly out of the land. According to their website, Natural Law offers “over 500 organic or wild-harvested bulk herbs, over 70 resins and burnable items, over 100 local alchemical preparations and over 150 in-house prepared tinctures,”
“As many participants in our broken western healthcare system can testify, seeking medical help can often feel invasive and disempowering.”
One of the greatest offerings of this transcendent neighborhood locale is the opportunities for education they present. While the Bowens can answer nearly any question about herbalism and ancient medicine with near-encyclopedic knowledge on the subjects, don’t expect a typical diagnosis. Rather, Natural Law Apothecary provides the tools for self-sovereignty alongside the support and guidance to take control over your own body. “It wasn’t about us and our practice—it was about everybody who came to us, everyone who came through the door,” says store Co-owner Marinda Bowen.
As many participants in our broken western healthcare system can testify, seeking medical help can often feel invasive and disempowering. This apothecary stands to serve the individual through education and empowerment, developing new offerings and finding ways around tinctures and teas for those who can’t do alcohol or hot drinks. “We love to do local and we love to grow our own herbs, but we quickly realized we needed to help the woman from Morocco who wanted her Syrian Rue, or the man from South America who wanted his Chapparal,” says Marinda. Natural Law’s extensive library is also open to those who come in without a lot of experience, and customers can browse through books from centuries ago as well as more contemporary tomes to learn more about themselves and the power of the herbs.
Likewise, Natural Law hosts myriad events for the community. Winding around wall-to-wall jars of herbs, tinctures, salves and glycerides of indeterminate age and origin, a door leads to another room hosting a small stage for open mic and ample room for ceremony. Up the stairs to the second floor is a gathering space adorned with murals, cushions and yoga mats. Here, the community comes together to hold workshops and classes that range from Kundalini yoga to trainings for death doulas (my next band name). Nearly three dozen local artists regularly work out of the space. As the week rotates dynamically through different classes, celebrations and opportunities for education, there is something for everyone willing to learn and a space for anyone with a skill to share.
“While the Bowens can answer nearly any question about herbalism and ancient medicine with near-encyclopedic knowledge on the subjects, don’t expect a typical diagnosis.”
I attended the weekly Meditation Monday in an attempt to continue avoiding therapy. Led by local underground hip-hop artists Burnell Washburn and Trevor Nielson (T-Mental), the group session featured a large set of singing bowls as the centerpiece while Washburn and Nielson guided the journey and another participant saged me consensually (in response to my body odor, I worried). Beginning in Sugarhouse Park before finding a home at Natural Law, Washburn says, “We teach a lot of different styles [of meditation], mixing and matching different cultures and ancient teachings”—and the pair were happy to pass on their tools and perspective in the donation-based class. I left extremely concerned about my posture, but otherwise at peace.
In addition to the artists that host events in the space, Natural Law boasts the work from nearly 40 local artisans selling their crafts. While the Bowens do the lion’s share of the alchemy, they have offerings from around the world and are always sourcing more. From sensory deprivation tanks to sensory-cleansing sound baths, Natural Law has something for anyone who wants to take care of their body—or just feel more connected to it.