Through pop-culture portrayals, stereotyping, and our need for something mysterious, we tend to think of the shaman as some dark figure living in solitude at the edge of the village. While there is some truth to this, many shaman I have known and worked with are very present and involved within their communities. The distance from people comes more as a boundary set for the practitioners protection against societal tendencies and behaviors that would negatively impact the shaman in their spirit or their work.
My family and I live secluded compared to most, I spend a great deal of time in the forests and natural spaces as well but seldom feel alone or lonely. When I leave the presence of people I am surrounded by the presence of the spirit of the space that I am in. Each like a friend I have developed a relationship with, a partnership, or working relationship.
Those who work in the runes may recognize this as a manifestation of Ehwaz, the Horse, and its inclinations of cooperation. A more popular reference to this relationship is that of a shaman and their drum- sometimes called the "Shaman's Horse", in which there is a cooperative effort between two spirits for travel or journey. Relationship is key to many things in life, especially success.
A seedling must have a working relationship with the soil, the rain, the sun, the plants growing nearby, and the animals that pass by it, to grow and flourish.
An interest in a thing most often isn't enough.. communication, understanding, and of course relationship are likely required. Many coming into a spiritual path find themselves with a yearning to return to herbalism and plant medicines to compound their craft in healing. But if the work is not put in to develop relationship with that which you ask cooperation, it goes no where. Learning about something is a communication, and communication is paramount to relationship and its success. If you do not understand the plant or plants, it's leaves, flowers, roots, stem, its growth in season, location, it's chemicals and compounds, how to process each, how to apply the medicine it gives... it will be time well wasted and is potentially very harmful to you or those you're attempting to heal with it.
Without communication, without relationship, the lack of establishing cooperation, time spent together will work against you. A shamans work is in building and establishing relationship with the spirit around them whether it be the plants and animals or people, living and dead alike.
Although healers and shaman often appear alone, they most certainly never are.