Feel free to download and share the above humorous poster of “Rosie The Herbalist”.
The Summer issue of Plant Healer Magazine releases on June 1st, see the contents below. If you aren’t already a subscriber, you can sign up in time by going to:
Feel free to download and share the above humorous poster of “Rosie The Herbalist”.
The Summer issue of Plant Healer Magazine releases on June 1st, see the contents below. If you aren’t already a subscriber, you can sign up in time by going to:
Plant Healer Parents Group Forming
A commitment to teaching the craft, ethos, and values of folk herbalism to kids and teens is one of the most important things we can do for our species, our planet, and our future. Asa, Lauren, and the Plant Healer Parents group are doing all they can to move this vision forward… not only by creating a program for your kids at the upcoming Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference, but all year long through parent networking, sharing, and alliance. Kiva and I recommend this google group as a resource to any parent or teacher of young’ns, whether you are planning to attend TWHC or not. And we hope you enjoy our friend Asa Henderson’s beautiful piece that follows, excerpted from the latest issue of Plant Healer’s free Herbaria Newsletter releasing Apr 21st. –Wolf & Kiva
Join in Encouraging a New Generation of Wild Herbalists
by Asa Henderson
The beauty and the frustration of raising kids is that they are full of wild energy. What I mean by energy is that thing that wells up in us and spills out into the world. My son’s energy comes out as beautiful artistic creations, and (when he was a bit younger) as the impulse to tackle anyone he either liked or didn’t like.
There’s a delicate balance that we have to strike as parents between letting our kids’ energies run completely wild, and squashing them or making them wrong and bad. My son is learning not to throw things behind his head inside the house. He’s learning to look where he’s going to land before he summersaults. He’s (mostly) learned not to wrestle in school. He’s also learning to play the drums, to practice a beat over and over again until it flows out of him without a thought. He’s learned to write letters, and then some words, and now he spontaneously writes love notes to friends and relatives.
There’s a finesse (which I have far from mastered) to directing our kids’ energies in life-promoting directions without repressing or condemning the energies themselves. We have to strike this balance because those energies come from the place where we are one with Creation. Those energies that well up inside us and impel us to act, they come from our basic life force, our basic vitality, our anima. And as a parent, my primary job is to guide this vital force, this little ball of energy that is my son, to express in ways that serve Creation. Which is why one of my favorite things to do for him is to bring him somewhere where his vital force can interact freely with that of other creatures—plants, animals, sticks and rocks. There’s a freedom a kid can have in a forest or open field that it’s a lot harder to give him in our very cozy 700-square-foot trailer. Kids need time and space to throw, dig, pick stuff up at random and see what can be done with it, run, roll, hike, explore. They need time being part of a system that reflects their vitality back to them rather than trying to control it.
The Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference has been such a place for my son, every year since it (and he) was born. That’s why I and my wife volunteered to coordinate a kids’ camp for TWHC 2015. We already have an amazing group of parent volunteers (and other herbalists who love kids), who have come up with some wonderful classes and activities. There will be nature-based arts and crafts such as printing with plants, coloring with plant pigments, and connecting with plants through song and movement. There will be experiential explorations of herbs through taste, smell, touch, and medicine making. There will be hikes, herb walks, imaginative adventure story quests, fairy houses, and lots of free play in nature. We will have separate activities and childcare for young kids (under 3 or 4) and older kids, so the young ones will be safe while the older ones can explore more adventurously.
If you’re as excited as I am about this and would like to help make it happen or have an idea for an activity you’d like to guide, contact me at email@example.com to volunteer.
But the most important ingredient in this awesome kids’ camp is the kids, so the most important thing you can do is bring them! They’ll get to enjoy the freedom of being in nature and the kind of knowledge that only comes from direct experience with plants and wild places. You’ll get to enjoy the classes while someone else plays with your kids. Most importantly, the conference will benefit from the vitality of your kids, and the movement toward a humanity more attuned to nature will get a new generation of ambassadors!
For more information or to join the growing Plant Healer Parents Group, email Asa at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To register you and your children for the TWH Conference & Kid’s Camp, click on the:TWHC Website
Planning continues for the upcoming Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference, and the release of yet more Plant Healer books and magazines… but somehow or other we are managing to also make time for another supplemental Herbaria Newsletter. Herbaria is absolutely free to anyone subscribing, with the upcoming April issue containing 50 color pages of herbal information and inspiration. You can look forward to the following and more:
• Catherine Skipper – writing about Medicinal Trees and learning to listen to them
• John Slattery, providing text and photos on the fascinating topic of harvesting and preparing edible Saguaro cactus
• Dale Pendell writes about the intersection of Deep Ecology, Wild Mind, & Psychedelic Plants
• Elka offers another delicious and healthy recipe – Wild Mustard & Braised Beets
• An insightful interview with unconventional herbalist teacher Sam Coffman, including 1500 words of totally new material
• Plus a second interview, with the heartful herbalist, horticulturist, teacher and photographer Juliet Blankespoor
• And for those of you hoping to attend the 2015 Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference, we will be announcing this year’s exciting Dance Band!
You must be subscribed to be certain of receiving your April issue when it releases April 20th.
Subscribe Free by filling out your name and email in the space at left, on the Plant Healer website:
We periodically like to profile our Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference teachers here, some of the best teachers in the herbal field today.
Shana Lipner Grover was one of the popular of last year’s instructors, impressing attendees with her vast herbal knowledge and considerable experience, her passion and love for the plants, and her clear communication skills. We’re honored to promote her work, and to have her back teaching in 2015: one class on the late Michael Moore’s constitutional system, one on the very useful Ceanothus, and another with Rebecca Altman about medicinal plants of the Southwest and how place affects us and our treatments. If you don’t know, the Michael was one of the most influential herbalists of his generation, and his systems of assessment and protocols have been an immense influence on many practitioners including Shana, Howie Brounstein, and ourselves (Kiva and Wolf).
Shana Grover is a nature lover, plant medicine explorer, Clinical Herbalist, and all around wonderful person. Her herbal school and business, Sage Country Herbs, is a result of over 15 years of working and playing in natures gifts. She offers a Botanical Medicine Apprenticeship that is 80% field classes, and an ever expanding herbal product line by the same name. Shana’s time is spent going for hikes, exploring ecology as well as offering plant walks, workshops and teaching about local, native and medicinal plants. She also keeps up a clinical practice in North County, San Diego, with a focus on empowering people and their health through nutrition, lifestyle, and herbal medicine.
When we realized she did not have business logo yet, Wolf wanted to show our appreciation for her by taking time to draw one for her. For the “sage” in Sage Country, Shana wanted a likeness of her local and much valued Black Sage (Salvia mellifera), which Wolf stylized and brought to life for her. We’ll paste it here for you to see:
If you are interested in attending her TWHC classes in New Mexico this September, check out the full descriptions below. And we if you live in California, we recommend you consider attending Sage Country school as part of your important herbal education.
(Repost & Share)
Shana’s 2015 TWHC Classes:
Michael Moore Constitutional System: Anabolic/Catabolic/Thyroid
There are many different theories of constitution, 5 Element Theory, the Doshas of Ayurveda and the Four Humours are commonly recognized.Â Michael Moore developed his own constitutional theory as a means to categorizing tendencies in the body to see a bigger picture of health. By utilizing constitution information, a practitioner can make choices in protocols to aid the body in finding balance beyond one organ system showing symptoms and effect change on a deeper level.Â We will cover an introduction to understanding Anabolic, Catabolic and Thyroid constitutions and the manifestation of their tendencies in physiology and their herbal allies.
Ceanothus: Lymphatic & Beyond
Ceanothus is a North American native genus with many species and a wide breadth of medicinal function. It is a woody shrub that ranges from small bush to small tree in size and diversity. This is a plant steeped in herbal history of this country from sea to shining sea! Having its greatest effect on membranes and the lymphatic system, and the interconnectedness with all other systems; Ceanothus is a powerful ally when used appropriately . We will explore medicinal differences in species and parts used; as well as it’s role in inflammation, congestion, membrane integrity, immune function, transfer of fluids, cardiovascular function and much more.
Southwest Plants, Southwest Constitutions: The Influence of Place on Conditions & Treatments
(with Rebecca Altman) (1.5 hrs)
In this class Shana and Rebecca will talk about the ways that one’s place/bioregion influences the kinds of ailments are encountered and determines which herbs work best. By way of example, they will focus on the ecological experience of moving to the American Southwest: how residing in a hot and dry location affects the constitutions of the people living there, and how the plants that grow there prove uniquely suited. They will discuss therapeutics for environmental imbalances, while covering a number of key Southwestern herbs and their actions, such as Yerba Mansa, Ocotillo, Nettle, and Marshmallow.
For more information or to register, click on this link to our: Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference
Free March Issue of
If you haven’t already, subscribe to Plant Healer’s absolutely free Herbaria Newsletter for a monthly dose of herbal information and skills. The exciting March issue will be released soon, containing 2 inspiring interviews and 4 articles for herbalists and anyone interested in using plants for medicine:
1. Paul Bergner brings us the History & Vision of The Herbal Resurgence, an uplifting synopsis of the contemporary rise of folk herbalism that he wrote as a special Foreword to our new collection of Plant Healer Magazine articles from 2010-2014 – The Treasury of Herbal Wisdom.
2. Dara Saville is becoming one of the better writers in this field, contributing to both PH Magazine and Herbaria. An Albuquerque based bioregional herbalist, she shares with us the story of her new Yerba Mansa Restoration project, an ambitious effort to inventory and reintroduce this important native herb in the riparian Bosque along the Rio Grande River.
3. Susun Weed is the long popular teacher of the Wise Woman Tradition, providing here an excerpt from her PH Magazine series on her Medicine Wheel of Plant Uses, this time a grounding and centering piece titled Coming Home To Our Roots.
4. Sabrina Lutes is the primary contributor to PH Magazine’s column about administering herbs to children and pregnant women. For this March issue of Herbaria, she contributes an original article on Integrating Herbal Modalities that has never appeared in PHM or elsewhere… hope you enjoy it!
5. Katja Swift is the subject of our first Herbaria interview this issue, a Boston-based herbal practitioner with excellent deductive skills and an ability to personalize and bring to life even the most complex information.
6. Thomas Easley joins us in conversation for a second interview this issue, an up and coming herbalist teacher who recently moved his practice to North Carolina. We expect you will find much of what he says fascinating and helpful, with these herbalist interviews providing inspiration for the deepening and growing of our own personal herbal paths.
To ensure you receive every month’s free issue, be sure you are subscribed. To subscribe, simply enter your name and email address in the space provided at the left of the screen on our website:
A Healthy Look at Anger
Hospital-Caused Deaths, Twitter Indicators, Heart Attack & Prevention
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
The second greatest cause of deaths in this country are factors associated with conventional hospital care, from misdiagnosis to resistant infection and drug side effects, as my partner Kiva and I regularly lament. Recently our esteemed herbalist friend Paul Bergner alerted us to a report in a 2013 edition of The Journal of Patient Safety, discussing extensive research indicating there are an estimated 400,000 deaths per year directly related to drug-based modern medicine and hospital care. These statistics, you must admit, are downright alarming. More than that, they flat-out piss me off… as they likely anger a good number of our Plant Healer readers as well!
But be careful how angry you get when you stop to think about this regrettable fact, with anger looking more and more like a primary preventable trigger of the numero uno cause of death: the approximately 600,000 women and men succumbing each year to a fatal heart attack. That anger triggers HCV symptoms and gall bladder pain, I can personally attest. But some curious researching of twitter messaging habits makes me think about the ol’ ticker as well.
Social Media data is increasingly being analyzed by healthcare researchers for a better understanding of disease patterns and causes. According to a January 14th, 2015 science report on National Public Radio, the internet platform Twitter has provided some very telling statistics. Of particular interest to this discussion, it was found that those places where the greatest number of angry “tweets” issue from, strongly correlated with those areas reporting the greatest number of deaths from heart attack. As NPR science reporter Shankar Vedantam explained:
“There’s new work now that connects Twitter with heart disease, because it turns out that you can trace many tweets to the location from which they were sent. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and other schools traced these tweets and then they analyzed the language in the tweets to see if they were expressing anger, or love, or boredom. And they find, in an analysis of more than 1,300 counties, that the amount of anger expressed on Twitter is a very powerful predictor of heart disease in those counties. And in fact, anger, hostility and aggression on Twitter is better able to predict patterns of heart disease than 10 other leading health indicators, including smoking, obesity and hypertension.”
Bergner points reminds us that correlation is at best indication, and does not equal causation: “Sometimes two things that seem causally correlated are both caused by something else. What if living in a high crime expensive polluted city causes heart attacks, and also causes people to be angry? With obesity and heart attacks, the correlation disappears when you remove insulin resistance, the insulin resistance causes the obesity and it causes the heart attacks.”
Yet, even if a direct causative relationship between anger and heart attacks remains unproven, it would seem to be their mutual causes that need to be determinedly addressed.
There is much to be upset about, and crucial for a healer of any kind – herbalist, nurse, nurturer, culture-shifter – empathize with, hurt over, take exception to, and try to address, confront, transform, or otherwise heal. Dwelling in our pain and anger, however, is likely to do more damage to our health than bring justice to the world. Instead, acting on our feelings can vent dangerous pent-up frustration, releasing tension through direct action and purposeful effort regardless of how successful such efforts and acts are. I am angry over the persecution of herbalists and marginalizing of herbalism, and the threat posed by pharmaceuticals. I’m ticked-off about the lying and manipulative politicians of both parties who continue destroying the environment and supporting corporatism and war, riled at the disappearance of wild habitat for plants and animals and free spirited people, upset with onerous regulation and oppressive laws, disgusted with bioengineered foods and proprietary seeds. And thus, my preventative treatments for possible future heart attacks include helping to gather, store and promote wild seed varieties, protesting against or working to change unjust laws, purchasing and restoring a riparian ecosystem and encouraging its plant and wildlife, refusing to vote for what we imagine to be the “lesser of two evils”… and supporting the herbal resurgence against all odds, in every ways possible. With every strenuous effort I make, I can feel the anger resolve into calm deliberate purpose, feel the tension dissolving in my weight bearing shoulders, my busy head, and my still beating chest.
Most official and unofficial websites discussing heart failure give us the same, not always correct recommendations. According to the MNT Knowledge Center, for example, the steps to preventing heart attack are:
1. Follow instructions on medications usage (!)
2. Make sure diet is low in salt, fat, and cholesterol (even though nutritional cholesterol has been proven to have no significant effect on the levels of harmful cholesterol in the blood!)
3. Exercise in the form of a 10-minute walk…
4. Quit smoking, and
5. Avoid drinking alcohol.
Hell’s-bells, as my Papa used to say! No mention of herbs, of course. Not a single word about not bottling-up our emotions, or making changes in where and how we live. Maybe we should add a fifth recommendation:
5. Don’t get angry, get even! (in other words, take charge of our own health, and work to change the dominant system!)
With that calmly considered amendment, I think I’ll ask our partner Kiva – the blender of genuinely remarkable Margaritas – if she’ll kindly fix me a drink.
Get 40+ pages of herbal health information from Plant Healer’s FREE Herbaria Newsletter, by signing up at:
(RePost & Share Freely)
Now Available To Order:
HERBAL WISDOM TREASURY
Vital Knowledge & Essential Skills
–––Selections from Plant Healer Magazine 2010-2014–––
Edited by Jesse Wolf Hardin & Kiva Rose – Foreword by Paul Bergner
345 pages, b&w, 8.5×11” – Over 1,000 illustrations – Softcover $29
Now presenting a collection of intriguing, information-packed articles for the students and practitioners of herbal medicine at every level, gleaned from that esteemed quarterly: Plant Healer Magazine.
Therein you’ll find much of what you need to provide effective health care to your family, friends, or paying clients, covering a wide range of topics from herbal history and cosmology to using your intuition and “how to think outside the box,” from making assessments to which herbs to use for broken bones, pain or the immune system, from making herbal tinctures and unguents to enjoying herbal aphrodisiacs, and from tips for self nourishment to tips for launching your own successful herbal related business.
If you have been a subscriber of the digital magazine since the beginning, you may be interested in seeing many of your favorite articles in actual book form. If you have yet to subscribe, or have only recently subscribed, here is your way to avail yourself of much of the wisdom that has been offered. There has never been a book like this one, featuring over 50 in-depth contributions from 36 herbalist teachers:
Paul Bergner • Matthew Wood • Rosemary Gladstar • 7Song • Jim McDonald • Phyllis Light • Sean Donahue • Kiva Rose • Robin Rose Bennett • Guido Masé • Christa Sinadinos • Sam Coffman • Charles “Doc” Garcia • Juliet Blankespoor • Susun S Weed • Katja Swift • Mélanie Pulla • Dara Saville • Henriette Kress • Rebecca Altman • Rosalee de la Forêt • Corinne Boyer • Aviva Romm • Wendy Hounsel • Sabrina Lutes • Cat Lane • Erin Piorier • Michelle Czolba • Lisa Ferguson Crow • Beth Perry • Christophe Bernard • Merihelen Nuñez • Dave Meesters • Catherine Skipper • Nicole Telkes • Jesse Wolf Hardin
After decades of herbalism being both trivialized and criticized by the mainstream, there’s now an “herbal resurgence” underway – the long awaited reawakening, growth, and advancement of natural health knowledge and skills… and the coming together of a purpose-driven tribe. The Herbal Wisdom Treasury will equip you with more of what you need on your continuing path of learning, practicing, and healing.
“By my count, in the last year, articles have appeared in Plant Healer by the founders of more than twenty North American herbal schools – fourteen of these are represented in the Treasury of Herbal Wisdom, representing every region in the country. Another fourteen herbalist practitioner/teachers appear in this collection, each with their own creative voice and accumulated experience. Plant Healer is the only resource available today, in print, on the internet, or at any conference, where you can encounter this diversity from among the innovators, the cutting edge thinkers, writers, teachers, and practitioners who are driving the creative evolution of herbalism in North America today.” –Paul Bergner (NAIMH)
(Please Share and RePost)
It’s time for our quarterly Sneak Peek at the upcoming Plant Healer Magazine. Our Spring issue is yet again over 280 pages long, with another diverse selection of never before published articles covering the information, skills and issues of importance to herbalists. After a Winter of energies stored in the roots, we can feel the new shoots ready to burst out from us, new ideas to act on, new projects to create. Most of us have homes or families to tend, but we also need to tend our vision, our healing purpose, our endless learning and continuous growth.
To help feed that growth and purpose, we bring you here another deep well of inspiration, information and experience, written by our fellow practitioners and esteemed teachers. Several of these will also be teaching wonderfully unique classes for us next September, including Jim McDonald, Juliet Blankespoor, Sam Coffman, Dara Saville, and 7Song, at our annual event for the folk herbal tribe: Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference
Thanks go to Susun Weed, who had to type her latest Plant Healer column one-handed after hurting her other hand on a teaching trip to Central America. The engaging Larken Bunce is our interview subject this time, sharing the example of her plant-focused life, and offering important insights for fellow practitioners. Juliet Blankespoor provides another advance excerpt from her amazing upcoming book on herbal cultivation, due out by this Fall. And kudos to the accomplished artist Michael Ford for our latest Plant Healer Magazine cover, a wonderful tribute to Juliette Levy done in the style of early Illuminated Manuscripts.
Hurray for our latest Plant Healer writers! We’re very excited to welcome the brilliant herbalist Guido Masé as our new columnist, launching his series with a considered and experienced look at FDA regulation and healthy community adaptation and response. In future columns he will be covering all manner of topics from clinical to political, but always soulful and helpful. We’re also happy to publish the first contribution by the talented and ecocentric Jared Rosenbaum, whose new book for young kids we also include a few sample pages of. Jared’s sister Laura did the touching artwork for it.
Paul Bergner gifts us not only with another Herbal Rebel column (cautions regarding adaptogens), but also a synopsis of recent herbal history leading up to the current herbal resurgence you are all an important component of – a Foreword to our next Plant Healer book: A Treasury of Herbal Wisdom. Releasing on March 1st, the book will feature many of the most intriguing, information-packed, and popular articles from Plant Healer Magazine from 2010 to 2014.
Below you’ll find a list of the Spring issue’s articles, to whet your appetite a mite ahead of time. Subscribers can download your PDF issue on Monday, the 1st of March. If you aren’t already subscribed, you can do so at:
“Herbal medicine has the power, when applied the way it has always been applied – traditionally, relationally, locally, with heart and mindfulness – to heal and transform every system it touches. We have all seen this many times, be it between friends and clients, in doctor-patient relationships, or even on abandoned city lots. We see increased emphasis on herbal and nutritional medicine, along with other disciplines such as acupuncture and massage, being offered alongside modern technological treatment.” –Guido Masé
Plant Healer Magazine Spring 2015 Table of Contents:
Michael Ford: Cover Art: Portrait of Juliette Levy
Jesse Wolf Hardin: We Are The Seeds
Paul Bergner: Introduces The Treasury of Herbal Wisdom
Jim McDonald: Free-Thinking & Energetics
Paul Bergner: Caution With Adaptogens
Guido Masé: Navigating The Herbal Products Industry
Phyllis Light: How the Pine Tree Stole My Heart
Susun Weed: Turning The Spiral, Home to Our Roots
Juliet Blankespoor: Hibiscus
Virginia Adi: More Than Turmeric: Curcuma Zedoaria
Jesse Wolf Hardin: The Healer Part II: Shamans, Nourishers, & Culture-Shifters
7Song: The Herbalist Botanist
Katja Swift: The Herbs of Iceland
Sam Coffman: Lantana
Rebecca Altman: Desert Willow
Jared Rosenbaum: Spikenard: Lifeways of a Lesser Known Forest Herb
Sam Coffman: Vaccinations, Measles & Herbs
Dara Saville: Connecting With Our Heritage Through Herbs – Early American Herbalism
Jim McDonald: Primary Actions: Diaphoretics
Matthew Wood: The Liver Part V
Sylvia Linsteadt: For Children: The Rabbit Herbalist Part III
Jared & Laura Rosenbaum: For Children: The Puddle Garden: Planting a Native Garden
Cat Lane: Working With Animals: The Elderly Canine
Charles “Doc” Garcia: Foraging: Fishing & The One That Got Away:
Wendy “Butter” Petty: Foraging: Spring Mustards: Chorispora Tenella & Lipidium Draba
Juliet Blankespoor: Cultivation: Step by Step Guide To Creating a Garden Bed
Elka: Foodways: Preserving & Cooking With Lemons
Charles “Doc” Garcia: The Noble History of The Humble Cough Drop
Mike Adams: FDA Enforcement
Plant Healer Interview: Larken Bunce
Jesse Wolf Hardin: Fiction for Herbalists: The Medicine Bear Part XIV
Kiva Rose Hardin: In Praise of New Mexico, Rural Herbalism, & The Wild, Wild West
(Share and RePost Freely)
Announcing The February Issue of Plant Healer’s
FREE HERBARIA NEWSLETTER
Folk Herbalism, Starting an Herbal Business, Passion Flower, & Wild Nettles Recipes
The 40 pages-long February issue of Herbaria will be sent out to subscribers this Wednesday, the 11th. These supplemental newsletters are absolutely free, but you must be subscribed to receive a copy.
Subscribe by entering your name and email address in the appropriate space, at:
This issue will include:
Passion Flower: Materia Medica, Ecology, & Edible Uses
Actions include: hypnotic (sleep-aid), analgesic (pain-reliever), hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), nervine, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anti-spasmodic, and antidepressant
Read Juliet Blankespoor’s amorous ode to this “drop-dead gorgeous” plant with so many medicinal uses. She writes that “Often when I am teaching, a student will interrupt my ramblings on ecology, botany, or cultivation to ask the proverbial “But what is it used for?” This cut-to the-chase question somehow smells of skipping romantic courtship.” Juliet’s plant profile and incredibly scrumptious photos are sure to inspire or excite your own love affair with this healthful Flower of Passion.
Spring Nettles Feast
Elka shares her story of a nettles-hearted feast, with mouth watering recipes such as Nettle Dip with Yogurt, Sautéed Mustard Greens with Parsnips, and Sautéed Onion with Acorn Meal. As always, our partner and Plant Healer Magazine food columnist encourages us to celebrate and to savor every healthful meal we make, as we savor every healthy element of our precious lives.
What It Means To Be a Folk Herbalist
Kiva Rose writes about herbalism for all us folks, a true Medicine of The People. “There are those who assert that the term “folk” applies only to non-professional or lay people using local or handed down knowledge to treat illness. More realistically, folk herbalism is simply whatever herbal practitioners (whether professional or not) and practices that aren’t currently recognized as valid or acceptable by conventional medicine and mainstream culture. In the U.S., that seems to be just about damn near all of us… Even where our traditions have fractured and been partly forgotten, new knowledge and experiences are forever sprouting up with each new generation – the insistent call and craft of plant-based medicine consistently regrowing even when cut down. Every folk herbalist is an integral part of this emerging resurgence from our shared roots.”
Starting an Herbal Business, Building Community:
An Interview With Community Herbalist Julie Caldwell
There is a huge value to reading dialogues with other folks in the field of herbalism: Hearing their stories, helps us understand and express our own. We are forewarned and empowered by knowing their challenges and solutions. Their passion for the plants and for healing affirms and encourages our own. We will face similar choices, while choosing our own personal ways. And the deep healing knowledge they share, helps give us the ability and tools to be more effective ourselves. They provide examples and serve as worthy role models – modeling examples of the myriad ways in which we can honorably, effectively, and satisfyingly live and practice.
In our most recent interview, we sit down with the heartful herbalist Julie Caldwell, founder and owner of Humboldt Herbals, and a most evocative teacher. The complete conversation will appear later in Plant Healer Magazine, but for now you will be able to read an excerpt in February’s Herbaria – focused on launching an herbal business and making it serve the health and growth of the larger community. We’ll close this post, with what we consider some inspiring Julie quotes:
“Herbalism (and most herbalists) is driven by a desire to help others achieve a full and vibrant life experience. That’s a beautiful and powerful thing. Our tradition is ancient, and our connection sacred.”
“Plant medicine is the people’s medicine. We need to make sure as we move forward as an herbal community that we never lose touch with that basic truth, and that we do all we can do to foster self-reliance, empowering people to know how to use and embrace the medicine all around them.”
“The simple desire to help others is profound, and actions taken toward that end - no matter how seemingly small – change the world.”
(Share This Post Freely)
THE LADDER TO NOWHERE:
In Herbalism We Don’t Ascend, We Deepen
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
To someone getting into herbalism for the first time, it might seem improbable that there be any competition, jealousy or even dissatisfaction among fellow enthusiasts. Unlike in other fields, herbalists are usually laid back and generally uncomfortable with the competitive nature of the dominant society, fame is both rare and rarely sought after, and there is no pyramidical hierarchy to scramble up. And yet, we’ve heard more than a few wistful herbalists talk about the difficulty of “climbing the ladder” in the field of herbalism.
By “climbing the ladder,” I believe they mean that it can be hard to garner attention, be credited, or achieve greater status. We may witness the high degree of respect and admiration shown to long lauded herbalist teachers (such as Matthew Wood, for example), and question how if ever one might be shown the same. Some are discomforted by how quickly certain young herbalists have gotten popular on the internet, and may feel increasingly bitter that their own years of practicing, healing and teaching have gone largely unnoticed by their more esteemed peers. This is competition at its least healthy.
Without question, the work of an herbalist – like most meaningful, service-full, and even heroic work – is done out of sight of the public and usually without the witness and approbation of others in our role. It is much the same as with the community or environmental activist who gives years to a campaign to save our forests or our water with few people ever aware of their efforts, the fire fighter we never hear about unless killed in action, the nameless organic farmer supplying a healthy alternative food source to the whole goods markets where we shop, the compassionate pastor providing counsel to his congregation, the insufficiently thanked mother who nonetheless makes her children’s needs her priority.
Such things as the desire to be published, to be invited to teach at schools and events, to be paid an amount equal to the best other teachers, to be feted or vetted, registered or certified government approved, are all the result of a natural and understandable hunger to be recognized, valued and validated within the tribe we identify with. Recognition, attention, and credit do not, however, automatically or necessarily follow deeds, nor can we expect them to be commiserate with our best abilities, skills, efforts and accomplishments.
Getting recognition involves an unusual level of knowledge, an ability to recombine and synthesize different ideas, a unique angle or specialty, and an ability to communicate through writing or teaching. Yet even with all that, becoming renowned or being treated as eminent in a field like herbalism hinges on one’s visibility and accessibility, and uncommon charisma. Not to mention pure unadulterated luck.
“Luck,” that is, if we think of being renowned entirely as a positive thing, rather than as affirmation balanced by the discomfortingly greater scrutiny, impossibly higher standards, and even unreasonable expectations of infallibility that can be imposed on the much renowned and publicly esteemed. Or if we fail to take into account the sadness or even resentment sometimes evidenced by other well deserving but less well known practitioners.
Fortunately, it is the very nature of folk herbalism that there is no ladder… and there is an element of looking silly whenever we try to step up into thin air. The “ladder” of success or merit that we might imagine, would in reality have nowhere to reach. And in those hierarchical contexts where there is a real ladder to climb, it generally results in one becoming increasingly alone, ungrounded, out of touch with their foundations, and in danger of a serious fall.
It’s a good thing that our meaning and success come not from ascension but from a great and persistent deepening: Deepening our focus, our connection to earth, plants and patients. Deepening our knowledge, intuition, critical thinking, and experience. Deepening our sense of purpose and mission, and deepening our essential commitment.
The people most certain to notice our abilities and efforts, are the people we have quietly and with little reward helped to treat the ailments of and return them to a state of health. Seldom ungrateful is the mom whose child’s condition was eased through the wise application of the optimum herbs, the choleric man who hadn’t known a good night’s sleep until following your recommendations, the person with chronic pain who thanks to you is able to reduce or eliminate the use of dangerous pain meds. Anytime we have been recommended by someone, it is a sure sign we are esteemed and respected. When a person who id impoverished makes you something in trade, it is surely the most satisfying possible wage. When a family member, friend or client we helped takes the time to tell us how great they’re feeling, their mutterings are as sweet applause. And when we are doing all we can, for all the right reasons, we’d best value, credit, and acknowledge ourselves.
Truthfully, being lauded or applauded, rewarded or even thanked, probably has nothing to do with why we got into herbalism in the first place. You were likely attracted to the medicine of the plants in order to help ease your own difficult conditions or those of the people you love. You may have continued your studies out of fascination or allure, perhaps a bit of scientific curiosity mixed with a healthy dose of enchantment. As our affinity for the plants and understanding of their effects grew, we may have broadened our reach by helping people outside of our immediate circle, and then committed to a practice even though we could not reasonably expect to ever do much better than make a modest income in compensation for all our study and work. The readers of Plant Healer – almost without exception – would have given their time and focus to herbalism even if there was never a dollar to be made on it, even if it actually cost us money to make and dispense our medicines, proffer our herbal diagnostics, and give advice to those in need.
Even those of us who have been into herbalism for the longest time, can still recall when we felt incredibly fortunate just to have escaped the delusions of modern pharmaceutically driven health care, felt anointed by the plants we work with and made whole through their alliance, felt amply complimented that people trusted us enough to ask for assistance, felt sufficiently rewarded by the smiling eyes of those we helped. This doesn’t mean we don’t need to make enough income from our efforts to make it possible to live and continue with this work, or that we don’t deserve recognition from other herbalists, but it nonetheless is a call to remember our root motivations in giving so much of our lives to herbalism. It is vital that we continue to acknowledge how blessed one is to be doing what we are, how rewarding our relationship is with the green growing beings, how fortunate we are to have our knowledge and skills needed and desired by others, and how truly precious and valuable the hugs and smiles are that our caring work inspires.
Whether beginners in herbalism or experienced practitioners and teachers, we should always be making an effort to improve, learn more, reconsider and reconfigure, add new skills and insights, incorporate additional traditions, include new materia medica, and increase the rate of positive outcomes we help facilitate. And it is a worthy goal for us to create an endurable body of work and leave a lasting legacy, so that the gift that we are outlasts our mortal form. That said, there is already much about us to be respected. Anyone reading this is already knowledgable about herbs far beyond the general population, a compassionate giver more than a taker, an ally of the green and a substantial benefit to our world.
When we walk a path through the herb-filled wild places, we and the plants seem to recognize each other, and to recognize a shared purpose within the vital orchestrations of this living planet. And in those moments when we see ourselves reflected in polished garden marble, a mountain stream or puddle of rain, we can not only recognize but honor the hearts, abilities and efforts of the healer imaged therein.
These things, alone, can provide much affirmation, and bring us great satisfaction. Then, when others in the herbal and natural health communities trumpet our contributions, it isn’t the fulfillment of an anxious need, it’s something extra: an added sweetness to what is already a full plate, an appreciated luxury for an already satisfied herbalist living an already meaningful, purposeful and pleasurable life.
(This post is excerpted from a longer article appearing in the Winter issue of the quarterly Plant Healer Magazine, get it now by subscribing at: www.PlantHealerMagazine.com)
Share & RePost, to broaden this conversation
As the snow falls on the mountains of southwestern New Mexico, I’m writing a few new seasonal blogposts for the Solstice and evergreen herbs for the Cold Moons. Now that I have some time to write again after finding the new conference site I’m looking forward to posting here more again, and some of those new posts will be up later this week and next week! In the meantime, here’s a quick look at the Plant Healer Bookstore selection this holiday season, and especially don’t miss the limited edition printing of the new Plant Healer Magazine Annuals which are already two thirds gone.
Sending you all snowy greetings from the mountains, and every green blessing!
New Conference Website,
Kiva’s new Moss & Mezcal Botanica, an Updated Bookstore
Discounted Advance Tickets On Sale For The 2015 Plant Healer Event!
–Discount Ends Jan. 1st–
Discount Tickets for the 2015 Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference
For the 6th year in a row, Plant Healer presents an incomparable event for the folk herbal tribe, September 17-20th. Take advantage of the biggest discount of the year – $100 off the on-site price – if you purchase your ticket between Dec. 1st & Jan. 1st.
The theme will be “Real-World Wisdom & Skills,” featuring an incredible 54 classes taught by over 30 teachers, and held for the first time in a veritable fairie castle high atop the amazing Sky-Island at Cloudcroft, New Mexico… less than a 2 hour drive from the EP airport.
For more information and pictures, or to purchase your discounted tickets, please check out the totally remade Conference Pages at:
The Moss & Mezcal Botanica
Anyone going to the main PlantHealer.org splash page, will be able to click on Kiva’s newly launched botánica and aromatics shop.
Moss & Mezcal replaces the previous Bramble & The Rose shop, and will soon be featuring strictly limited-edition perfumes, elixirs, and other botanical wonders made with Southwestern ingredients, evoking the spirit and magic of New Mexico – the Land of Enchantment. Each product will be specially packaged with related art or gifts, resulting from a particular Kiva obsession, and reflecting a particular ecosystem and place. And each will only be available as a limited edition run, that she will hand-number and sign. You can get a first look at the site now, by going to:
The Remade Plant Healer Bookstore
We are slowly decreasing the number of titles that we print and store here at our wilderness sanctuary, as we transition to on-demand printing through CreateSpace and Amazon.com. We aren’t in favor of big-corporations by any stretch, but working with Amazon means we don’t have to build more sheds to store copies, or transport them over a sometimes flooded river. Most importantly, our new book titles are reaching outside of the U.S., and to folks far beyond the known herbalist tribe.
Now when you click on any of the books on the main page of the Plant Healer Bookstore, you will be taken either to 1. our own canyon shop for those titles we stock and ship ourselves, or else 2. directly to our CreateSpace printer for easy payment and fast shipping.
Announcing The Most Amazing New Conference Site:
A Veritable Fairy Castle Atop a Sky Island Wildland!
In the past few weeks, the two of us have spent over 300 hours painstakingly researching potential conference sites throughout the West. Finding our required combination of sufficient classrooms, comfy lodging, free camping, wilderness surroundings, and closeness to an airport is amazingly difficult, and needless to say we can’t stand the idea of holding a plant event in a city, stodgy conference center or generic hotel. There was much to love about our previous venues, but there has never been an herbal conference at a place like our new event site!
50 Unique Classes! • 1.7 hrs. From Airport! • Dance Concert • Masquerade Ball • Native Plant Walks
Famous Margaritas & S.W. Brews! • Pool, Hot Tub, Natural Wonders! • Youth Village, Kid Classes, & Cooperative Childcare
NEW WEBSITE LAUNCHES & TICKETS GO ON SALE
IN EARLY DECEMBER
Imagine, for a moment, the way it feels flying or driving into the stark Chihuahua Desert just north of Old Mexico, with otherworldly Yucca emerging triumphant from crimson soil and into an impossibly blue sky. Vast stretches of what looks like snow turn out to be the famed White Sands, reaching for miles into the lava rock formations of the Tularosa Basin. You barely have time to take in the sight of the desert’s many powerful medicinal plants, before the road veers and begins climbing up the sides of golden cliffs gleaming in the setting sun like some fantastic Tolkein-esque parapets. Within minutes you have moved into Juniper and Oak story, winding past rustic Apple orchards and then lush green Ponderosa Pines before topping out among giant swaying Spruce, Fir, and white-barked Aspen.
One more turn in the road, and the tiny town of Cloudcroft makes its appearance: charming lodges and bread & breakfasts, a saloon and cafes housed in buildings built in the 1800s when a narrow gauge railway brought awestruck tourists to this Southwestern Shangri-La. Namesake clouds often cling to the peaks of this Sky-Island, a term describing those rare peaks stretching dramatically from desert to alpine. Looking at your feet, you may be excited about the proliferation of high elevation herbs or the totally unique species of mosses, and gazing out over the tree tops you can’t help but be struck silent by the view of the deserts and hills seemingly so far down and so far away.
From this “croft of clouds,” you proceed a final hundred yards up to what can best be described as a fairy castle, a magical looking adobe structure at the apex of this special mountain. Originally constructed in the 1890s and rebuilt in 1911, the fabled Lodge is awash with history, furnished in original Victorian and Edwardian funk, and once a meeting place for the ballsy revolutionary Pancho Villa as well as 1930s getaway for quirky early movie stars like Clark Gable and Judy Garland. who mischievously carved their names in the wall of the old fashioned observation tower. Portraits throughout celebrate its most famous lodger, Rebecca, the red headed ghost of a long vanished employee, reported many times to be still wandering the maroon-carpeted halls of this truly incredible building.
Classes will be held in 5 lovely classrooms. One of these is in the oldest structure in the village, a hardwood floored meeting hall that will also be home to our Friday Masquerade Ball and Saturday night dance concert. Those fortunate enough to reserve lodging there, will enjoy the aura of earthy vintage elegance, the outdoor pool and hot tub. Others of you will find plenty of affordable rooms within walking distance in Cloudcroft, along with dozens of gorgeous campgrounds for setting up a tent or RV close by. Thursday at 3pm we will launch this 2015 event with guided plant identification walks on area trails, and a multi-hued waterfall beckons only a dozen miles away. Join us – and Rebecca – at another event of a lifetime!
“Resurrecting the spirit of Western Herbalism!“ -Paul Bergner
More Amazing Teachers Than Ever!:
Phyllis Light • Guido Mase’ • David Hoffmann • Howie Brounstein • Juliet Blankespoor • 7Song • Kiva Rose • Lisa Ganora • Jim McDonald • Phyllis Hogan • Sean Donahue • Larken Bunce • Kiki Geary • John Slattery • Shana Lipner Grover • Charles “Doc” Garcia • Lori Pino • Wendy Hounsel • Emily Ho • Katja Swift • Ryn Madura • Sam Coffman • Julie Caldwell • Thomas Easley • Julie James • Dara Saville • Stephany Hoffelt • Julie James • Asia Suler • Rebecca Altman • Ramona Rubin • Emily Stock • Amanda Mayther • Lauren Stauber • Asa Henderson • Jiling Lin • & Jesse Wolf Hardin
The Information Needed To Be An Herbalist
…Along With The Fun & Celebration An Herbalist Needs!
“I’m feeling so fulfilled, inspired, activated, blessed, and enriched by this radically meaningful weekend with healers and plant medicine workers in the magical forest. The classes warmed my heart, stimulated my brain, and nourished my soul as well as helped me to articulate, define, and take pride in why I work with plants and see plants as teachers. This was the best weekend of my life!
–Chloe Groom (Rainbow Bliss Botanicals)
Medicine of The People
The 2015 conference will continue Plant Healer’s tradition of serving not only the professionally oriented person seeking to learn new techniques and advanced info, but but also the informal or beginner herbalist, the unaffiliated and the outlier, the street medic and herbal activists who give their time to helping the disadvantaged and the homeless, the teenaged plant enthusiast, and the herbalist who treats only her own family. Plant Healer events continue to serve as a home even to folks who normally avoid conferences, and as a nexus – drawing together the diverse folk herbal tribe, seeding new networks that can help not only our practice but our planet to thrive.
“An outstanding herbal conference, creating a network across the country that unites us all in this grassroots movement… helping to heal the world in our small and great ways.”
Youth Village, Childcare & Kid Classes
This year we’re welcoming the creation of a Youth Village at the “Pavilion,” featuring cooperative childcare with participating parents, as well as a half dozen classes especially for the young. If you have school age children, consider taking them out for this fun experience, getting them their start in an herbal education. And if you’d like to help make the Village happen by networking with other parents beforehand, teaching a kid class, or participating in the childcare program, please email Asa at: email@example.com
“My son has grown up with the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference, and this year’s event cements for me the vital importance of the conference to his development as a planetary citizen.”
Friday Masquerade Ball,
Saturday Night Dance Concert, & Healer’s Market
There is nothing like evenings of socializing, entertainment, music and dance after full days of classes. Thursday night is Tribal Tea Time in the Healer’s Market, where you can peruse quality herbal products, speak to the directors of herbal schools, and meet and greet friends old and new at any time. The nearby historic “Pavilion” cabin serves not only as a classroom but also our concert hall, featuring a Plant Magic AudioVisual Show & Plants & Faeries Masquerade Ball on Friday evening, and our rockin’ annual dance concert Saturday night.
“Definitely the most inspiring herbal conference I’ve been to. I loved being among herbalists who were talking about magic, intuition, and emotional healing and at the same time speaking to the political and social conditions we’re living under and how we hope herbalism can play a role in changing that. It really was a transformative experience.”
Event Updates & Free Herbal Articles
Subscribe to Plant Healer’s totally free Herbaria Newsletter, an average 35 color pages, sent out 10 times per year. Herbaria includes inspiring info-packed articles by some of your favorite herbalist writers, original new pieces as well as excerpts from past and upcoming issues of the quarterly Plant Healer Magazine, and of course the latest updates and developments regarding the 2015 Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference. If you haven’t done so already, you can sign up now by going to our website and filling in your name and email address in the column at far left: www.PlantHealer.org
“Truly unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in a conference setting. If you can only make it to one herb conference next year, this should be the one! Profound, inspiring, multi-cultural, grass roots, and sooooo much fun!”
-Julie Caldwell, (Humboldt Herbals)
(Please RePost & Share Widely – Thank you so much!)
THE ENCHANTED HEALER
A Guidebook for Finding Your True Medicine
Reflections by Melanie Pulla
Every once in awhile, you come across a book that resonates such truth that it compels you to pause and reevaluate your decisions; and then it inspires you to implement significant yet necessary changes in your life. Let me introduce you to Jesse Hardin’s The Enchanted Healer: treasure map to your soul’s desires, field guide for identifying your authentic self, and handbook for transmitting your message to the world – unadulterated.
When – not if – you read this book, prepare yourself for a journey that may take some time. Jesse Hardin’s The Enchanted Healer will accompany you along a quest that is equal parts educational, inspirational, and transformational. As your guide along this journey, Hardin reacquaints you with the enchanted world that is all around us: a world that appears mundane if only for our inability or unwillingness to tune into our senses and wake up to the present moment. He offers numerous strategies and practices for excavating the scripts that prevent us from fully embracing our authentic selves. He then helps us follow those breadcrumbs back to our wholeness. This is the truth-telling, paradigm-shifting, honesty-inducing book we’ve all been waiting for.
Awareness, Sensing, and Feeling
One of the key takeaways from this book is that Hardin reminds us about the importance of embracing the present moment and having a heightened awareness of our surroundings – a philosophy that is endorsed by numerous somatic therapies and spiritual traditions around the world. His application of these practices in the context of healing modalities offers a fresh perspective on why sharpening our sensory awareness is of utmost importance: “It is crucial for healers to not become complacent, inured, or for any reason get in the habit of feeling less and numbing out more. The efficacy of our lives and practices hinges on our sensitivities, our innate and developed senses, our ability to notice, feel and respond” (p. 83).
The Enchanted Healer is truly a guidebook; Hardin illustrates several techniques and practices that modern health practitioners can use to support their journeys back to mindfulness and awareness. These techniques are simple, but not necessarily easy, and Hardin’s teachings have a way of getting to the heart of everything you’ve been avoiding in a refreshingly disarming way. The work is clearly laid out, and the journey awaits; the only way out of the darkness is through the tunnel of transformation.
Healing, Re-patterning, and Conscious Creation
Healing the healer is an ambitious task, but Jesse Hardin’s The Enchanted Healer boldly embraces the challenge, and the result is quite remarkable. Even the seasoned self-help junkie will encounter new tools and techniques for the soulful introspection and mindful exploration of new terrain. These include such things as story, sexuality, totems, and sacred indulgence to name a few. A common thread connecting these various healing modalities is the importance of releasing limiting beliefs and re-patterning the stories we tell ourselves in order to activate meaningful changes in the world: “The effective healer will be the one who not only senses and comprehends who and what they are trying to help, the clients, medicines and the illnesses, but who also knows intimately the extent of their own healing knowledge and skills, the limits of their comprehension or abilities, their habits and filters, feelings and needs, motivations and style.” (p. 111) From this standpoint, anything is possible including the conscious creation of our selves, our communities, and our healing paradigms.
Metamorphosis, Transformation, and Embracing Your Authentic Self
One of the most poignant elements of this book is the soul-shaking contribution of Kiva Rose. Rose brings a raw authenticity as she shares her personal journey through the tunnel of metamorphosis and self-discovery. She notes, “If we are untrue to our own nature, we cheat both ourselves and those we seek to help. While adaptation to new circumstances can be not only necessary but commendable, it must not be at a cost to our integrity as medicine people and allies of the plants.” (p. 255) Her beautiful and moving prose effectively illustrates how going against the grain can be a powerful expression of love and creativity, especially when it reflects the true desires of your deepest self.
The Enchanted Healer is best read with your heart wide open, senses alert, and mind flexible enough to allow for changes to occur. This book invites your authentic self to play a central role in your work as a healer; work that matters because it offers a profound opportunity for you to share your deepest gifts with the world.
I found The Enchanted Healer to be a refreshing rule breaker and paradigm shifter, and arguably one of the most thorough guidebooks for transformation in the contemporary herb world. So consider this: are you ready for change and open to receiving transformation? If so, get your copy of this must-have book and embark upon your own journey towards finding your true medicine.
Now shipping. Order your copy of The Enchanted Healer through the Bookstore page at:
Mélanie Pulla is a visionary herbalist who studied plant medicine at CSHS and SWSBM, and then earned a BSc in Alternative Medicine from JSC. In 2009, She opened her first business: a health food boutique, apothecary, and juice bar. She’s a full-time mom who writes awesome articles, including for Plant Healer Magazine (http://www.PlantHealerMagazine.com) and the popular Herb Geek blog.
This review first appeared in Plant Healer’s free monthly Herbaria Newsletter, subscribe at www.PlantHealer.org
(Share and RePost freely)
Truth & Claims
————by Jesse Wolf Hardin———
The intense level of misinformation, paranoia and fear mongering in the news and social media leads me to want to rake away at least some of the B.S. that’s fast piling up in the stall. As usual, it’s not “all good,” as that modern saying goes, and there are definitely things to be concerned about if not prepared for. This Ebola outbreak is going to be yet another extremely tragic event, but it is not going to be the defining tragedy of our time. And tragic is the tendency to tell ourselves and others comforting lies, and our sometimes sad ability to believe them.
The Claim: I hear people saying Ebola isn’t going to be an issue in America because of our amazing health care system, and excellent personal hygiene… what’s the truth?
The Truth: That claim is nonsense for a number of reasons. Of course Ebola will become an increasing problem here as it will elsewhere in the world, and there could end up being cases in the hundreds or even thousands in this country before things stabilize.
Note that the United States health system is far less just, accessible, and effective than that of many countries around the world, including the impoverished and demonized nation of Cuba. The U.S. model has made possible a monopolistic pharmaceutical paradigm where drug reactions and physician error are the leading cause of deaths. And before we think of Americans as superior for being “cleaner” than the primitive Africans in the affected countries, we should note that it is partly the use of antimicrobial soaps, body products and bathroom cleaners in the homes and hospitals of “developed” countries that has brought about the many evolving new strains of antibiotic and chemical resistant pathogens.
Ebola is dangerous, and we can never be 100% safe from it. But then, so it is with the cars that nearly everyone here owns and uses. We are never secure from these multi-ton speeding vestibules or the sometimes entirely oblivious people who pilot them, and yet we regularly drive amongst them at high speeds. Ideally, we make sure that we’re actively aware and paying as much attention as we are capable of, wear a seat belt (if we can stand the constraint), and make certain that our brakes are in good working order, taking reasonable and prudent steps to improve our odds of avoiding a wreck… but without the reported rates of deadly car accidents and their technicolor horrors making us too obsessed and too afraid to get behind the wheel when needed.
The Claim: On the other hand, some say that this could be the outbreak that threatens the future survival all of humanity.
The Truth: Pathogenic microorganisms are indeed the greatest future threat to human civilization, and possibly to the survival of our species as well. Our exploitation and destruction of the natural environment affects our health and could eventually spell our extinction, but not for a very long time – and not before we have laid waste to the Earth’s ecosystems and killed off most of its complex life forms. Deadly confrontation – including between Moslem and non-Moslem populations – will continue to help define the human experience for so long as we walk this planet, and yet, even the bloodiest wars tend to reduce dangerously high world populations by only a relatively small amount, while being almost always followed by a huge spike in births.
That said, it is unlikely to be untreatable Ebola that impacts the average American’s family and lives, let along that brings down the human colossus.
Microorganisms are indeed a far more likely threat to one of two kinds:
1. Antibiotic resistant “super-bugs” resulting from contemporary dirtless, antiseptic lifestyles; the excessive prescribing of antibiotics for nearly every imaginable symptom; and the standard preventive (not curative) dosing of the farm animals most of us eat. If Ebola proves untreatable, at least this deadly disease was probably not a direct product of our negligence, stupidity and greed as in the case of the every more dangerous “super bugs” we as a society beget.
2. Genetically engineered microbes, engineered in labs either to deliberately create weaponized bacteria and viruses for military purposes, or else to study and perhaps predict their behavior, virulence, and possible adaptations. In either case, there is nothing science fiction about the scenario of a protocol not being followed, leading to a pathogens escape. Or of someone unleashing it either accidentally or deliberately, in the commission of a criminally or politically motivated act.
At this point, the odds are far more likely that you will die from one of the thousands of other known deadly diseases and conditions found in the doctors’ books, with cigarette and diet related diseases topping the list… not to mention workplace accidents and getting electrocuted in the tub.
The Claim: So if it’s not likely to be a huge threat to most Americans, there is nothing to fear.
The Truth: We don’t need to act out of fear in this life, but the truth is that there is always much to realistically be afraid of! We often use God, the promises of technology, the distraction of the superficial, or whistling in the dark, to reassure us or take our minds off of that which threatens us. Rather than walk around in constant (and consequently unhealthy) state of fear, creatures in the real, natural world, exist in a state of awareness, in a condition of constant assessment. Unlike us humans, they save their flight response for when trouble is nigh. They appear to have no time to give to distant or extrapolated dangers.
The Claim: But as some critics of modern civilization have said, this outbreak could expand to the point that it brings about the collapse of the established system.
The Truth: Outbreaks initially strengthen the system, as the population seeks to be made safe and secure.
The Claim: What if I say it’s all a hoax, perpetrated by the government?
The Truth: The real hoax is the entrenched idea that our government has our best interest in mind. As for Ebola, if you don’t believe that the problem is real, you could try volunteering at a rural African field hospital without a protective suit.
The Claim: Some say Ebola was actually released or spread by some government agency, in order to create conditions that would justify the declaration of martial law.
The Truth: The reality is that even the most oppressive or nefarious governments are still composed of human beings, who have will likely always prove to be far less effective at provoking and orchestrating events than they are at preparing to exploit events when they happen. The proponents of increased government supervision and control of the populous did not have to arrange for Al Qaida to bring down the Twin Towers in order to have the pretext they needed to gut the Bill of Rights, they only needed to seize the opportunity when events made Americans most insecure and anxious for security and protection.
Likewise, there is almost no chance that ours or any other government intentionally introduced this disease… but various governments including our own will most certainly take advantage of this situation and our fearful condition to sink its claws further into us. Quarantines, whether of individuals or an entire infected city, are the ultimate abridgment of civil rights and personal liberties, confinement enforced by either the police or the federal army. The scariest things about Ebola or any other disastrous epidemic, may be the increased control and oppression that such a situation makes possible and even acceptable.
The Claim: Then before we’re controlled, we just need to get the disease under control.
The Truth: In the truest sense, we don’t ever control disease. At best we avoid it, contain it, manage it, or contend with it and learn from it.
The Claim: I read on a Natural Health site that you won’t catch it, if you regularly eat your fruits and vegetables.
The Truth: Good nutrition is very important to a strong immune system and the overall ability to repel or heal from infections. Depending on our food to save us from all infections is foolhardy to say the least.
The Claim: There must be herbs that can arrest the progress of Ebola.
The Truth: At this point there is no known plant that can cure or halt Ebola. And the anxiousness to believe in undemonstrated cures is in itself unhealthy, diverting us from any realistic measures that we might be able to take to lessen the chances of contracting it, and distracting us from both our important tasks/roles and the enjoyment of each lived moment.
It’s also unreasonable to expect plants to literally “cure” of “fix” what’s wrong with us. The way herbs work is by aiding the bodies own attempts at self regulation and balance, through stimulation, relaxation, modulation, etc. Even when herbs are able to work visible wonders, they do so by initiating adjustments of our various bodily and healing processes, not by “battling” disease. The responsibility for our health should be borne on our own shoulders, and not be laid upon the slender shoulders of the plants. Herbs are allies that we can wisely involve in the work of helping our bodies to heal themselves, just one of many ways that we can tend ourselves as we assume/resume responsibility and make make the necessary efforts to take care of ourselves.
The Claim: What about the common assertion that no good can come from an outbreak like this, no matter what its cause?
The Truth: No disease, challenge or travail is without potential benefits. Whether or not we learn to treat or contain Ebola, it could be instrumental in exposing the lies of officials, exposing the lie that technology and science have the quick fix for all that ails us and our society. We can damn sure learn from it to reconsider the often harmful modern medical system, to question authority, be vigilant against this or any other outbreak being used to justify policies and laws that decrease our liberties and foster greater government monitoring and control of its citizens. We can – by understanding there are things outside of our control – reclaim some of the humility that enabled our ancient ancestors to function in this world without doing quite so much damage to it. Thanks to the issues the emergence of Ebola has raised, we have an opportunity to take further responsibility for our own health and well being, change how we look at the world and how we behave, alter our lifestyles and habits to better serve our fullest and wholest living.
And yes, Ebola – like any mortal threat – can be a valuable reminder of the finite nature of existence, or the preciousness of every second, and the value of our using those vital seconds to good things, beautiful things, loving things.
(Share and RePost Freely)