Kiva Hardin

Jun 072016

Now For Sale – Our Summer Book Release: 


Feral Herbalists, Free Clinics, & Guerrilla Gardening

Drawn from the pages of Plant Healer Magazine 

Edited by Jesse Wolf Hardin & Kiva Rose Hardin

Foreword by Paul Bergner

48 Chapters by 31 Impassioned Herbalists:

Paul Bergner • David Hoffmann • Guido Masé • Phyllis Light • Kiva Rose • Renee Davis • Sean Donahue • Janet Kent • Sam Coffman • Susun Weed • Dara Saville • Charles “Doc” Garcia • Rebecca Altman • Lisa Fazio Ferguson • Aviva Romm • Alanna Whitney • Susan Leopold • Jen Stovall  • Dave Meesters • 7Song • Rae Swersey • Nicole Telkes • Sarah Baldwin • Michelle Czolba • Bri Saussy • Leaf • Roger Wicke • Leah Wolf •  & Jesse Wolf Hardin

428 Pages – $29 B&W Softbound

Order your copy from the Bookstore Page at:

Radical Herbalism Book.tif

Herbalism is the “People’s Medicine,” a skill historically and necessarily accessible to all regardless of one’s class, status, gender, race, or financial situation.  Radical herbalism is “root” herbalism, inextricably linked to and drawing sustenance from this lineage of personal empowerment and insistent natural healing.  And not just the healing of bodies, but of our psyches and spirits, community and culture, immediate environs and global ecology.

This new book defends and celebrates the People’s Medicine, in 31 distinct but deeply allied voices.



Radical Herbalism.tif

The 48 chapters were written by 31 of the leading herbal educators, drawn directly from the pages of Plant Healer Magazine, and with a powerful Foreword by the “Herbal Rebel” himself: Paul Bergner.  Each and every contributor to Radical Herbalism has their own personal perspective, focus, and approach, and not all are in agreement by any means.  In concert, the effect of their diverse contributions is to inform, inspire, and embolden us – the readers – in our co-creation of a radical, healthful new paradigm.

The complete contents follow.



$29 Softbound – You can order your copy by clicking on the Bookstore Page at:

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May 242016

Wendy Butter Petty by Wolf framed 72dpi copy


Presenting The Wisdom of Plant Healer & Wild Forager
Wendy “Butter” Petty


People get into the art of foraging for different reasons, including saving money by integrating wild and free fare, treasuring how much better foraged foods can taste, and knowing that they are often healthier for us than anything we can get from a grocery store. Our newest Plant Healer Magazine columnist, Wendy ‘Butter” Petty, has at least one other motivation: she is wildly in love with plants, animals, in love with all the natural world, its difficult lessons as well as beauty and insights. Butter’s quarterly column is entitled “Foraging Matters,” beginning with an article of elemental foraging advice, and proudly excerpted here.

“I hail from farming families on both sides,” she tells us. “My father can recount tales of growing up in the Midwest, and how picking wild foods was a natural part of the way they fed a large family. A big group of kin would pile into pickup of the old Chevy, then strike out into the woods to fill buckets attached to their top overall buttons with things like Morels, Raspberries, and Hickory nuts, each in season. Nobody called it foraging, and it was neither fancy nor intimidating. Harvesting wild foods was a natural part of the cycle of life.”

As a young adult, she felt a “deep-seated need to be anti-domestic” and identify as a scientist. her my ambitions had everything to do with being a scientist. “To be honest, I’d come from people who sewed and canned and hunted. I wanted to end up far away from any of that. And yet the pull to the mountains was even stronger. “The only thing I really knew about myself when I graduated school was that, despite my degree in chemistry, I wanted to be near to my beloved Rocky Mountains, which were as essential to my being as the thin air that bathes them.”

hiking gathering in colorado forest

Her return to foraging was a slow process, and yet today “It is at the core of who I am. I try to eat as many wild foods as possible as a part of my year-round diet. This requires quite a bit of planning, harvesting work, food preparation, and hours sunk into preserving.”

Today, Butter not only writes about gathering and wildcrafting in Plant Healer Magazine and her online blog, she also instructs others about it, infecting them with her unbridled enthusiasm.

“My passion and hope for the future is to establish foraging as a pillar of social/food justice. People who would define themselves as foragers are a small group. On one hand, you have the world’s leading chefs like René Redzepi and Magnus Nilsson inspiring great high-end cuisine. On the other, you have the group that is widely regarded by the rest of the world as the “twigs and berries” crowd. I see a whole gray scale of people in between who might really enjoy or benefit from adding one or two wild foods to their pantry. I want to get real and meet people where they are without an ounce of judgment about how they already eat, and share my forever bubbling-over zeal for wild foods. Bottom line is that wild foods taste great. That’s a wonderful place for us all to meet and say howdy.”

When it came time to write the following introduction to her first Plant Healer column, she chose to do so in the form of a letter to her once novice self… but it serves, indeed, as a letter to us all, as we each stand at the doorway to a lifetime of ethically gathering, savoring, and conserving the nutritional and medicinal gifts of the living planet.

“Standing at the crossroads, looking both forward to promoting foraging as a pillar in food justice, and over my shoulder at the young woman who found herself through harvesting wild food, I can see my own journey a bit more clearly. There are a lot of things I’d do differently as a fledgling forager, if I had it all to do again. Even though most of these things add time to the task of foraging, they pay off in the end. I’ve written a letter to myself as a novice forager, hoping that others can benefit from where I got it wrong, as well as what I did right.”

You can read the entire longer article in the Summer 2016 issue of Plant Healer Magazine, available for download June 6th:

–JWH, PHM CoEditor


Foraging Matters – Wendy Butter Petty – Plant Healer Magazine



By Wendy Butter Petty


Dear Young Butter,

In retrospect, it all makes sense that you became a forager. While your schoolmates were playing video games or dressing up dolls, you were running wild in the ditches, distracted for hours on end by flowers and trees and the dirty elbows of the creek. As you matured, your friends endeavored to climb to the top of all the 14’ers. You got left behind, barely more than a few steps from the trailhead – photographing flowers, sniffing trees bark, and exploring behind boulders. As you come of age, your love of the outdoors and food combine into a passion you never could have expected: that of a wild foods enthusiast.

As a young woman who aligns with Riot Grrrls, I know you may want to push back against my advice that follows. But please, open your ears and just let it sink in. As much as you’ve always wanted to rebel, you’ve remained a good listener. These things will make foraging easier in the long run:

-Respect for the plants

Thanks to your deep connection with the land of your home, you’ve almost always done the right thing as a forager. You’ve not harvested more than you could use, nor left an area less beautiful than you’d found it. You’ve always understood that, like yourself, wild foods are all part of a bigger web, and are as connected to the insects and dirt as they are to you. You’ve never thought they were yours to pillage by right. That’s an ethic that you now pass down and emphasize to every student you teach, helping to ensure that foragers are doing right by the place where they harvest. This is the most important aspect of being a forager. Listening to the plants, respecting their lives and existence and place in the world.

-Got to know each plant slowly

You were bone-headed enough to study and learn wild edible plants on your own. It turns out that this tactic of learning plants at an agonizingly slow pace has paid off. You’ve been able to see plants in each stage of growth and how they overwinter. That’s often necessary to nailing down a difficult ID. It also helps to make a lasting pattern of recognition. Better yet, learning plants slowly, on a manageable scale, enabled you to introduce them into your kitchen one at a time, gaining a deep understanding how each plant tastes and behaves in recipes.

-Making wild foods a real staple in the kitchen, more than just nibbling

Of course, there are all different types of foragers out there, but I applaud your ability as a newbie forager to make the wild foods you bring home workhorses in your kitchen. As an instructor, I now see lots of people who are interested in wild foods, but no matter how many classes they take or books they read, wild edibles never really become a real part of their kitchen repertoire. Your interest in foraging was driven by a desire to sample new foods from the start. That same love of food is what secured a big place in your heart and life for foraging.


Gathered Wild Foods berries & shrooms


-Not letting things go to waste if picked

I’m glad it’s always been so heartbreaking to you to see wild foods go to waste. It’s always seemed disrespectful to the plants, hasn’t it? It’s also just a big waste of time. On a practical level, this is tied into kitchen economy. For one to get the most bang for their so-called buck, they must actually use the foods they put into the fridge/pantry. You’ve always seemed to get that a combination of intuitive cooking, seasonality, and economy are all deeply entwined in a wild foods kitchen. Wild foods stretch your creativity in a way you thrive on, but they also force you to consider what ingredients are on hand and how they can best be utilized to make a meal. You’ve always understood that using wild ingredients in cooking is as simple as swapping out familiar ingredients in known recipes. Orache and Dock replace the Spinach in lasagna. Ditch Plums are used in place of Peaches in Gran’s famous cobbler. Porcini are now the star of good old cream of mushroom soup. One of your greatest delights is in combining whatever odds and ends are kicking around the fridge with fresh wild foods, and serving up a meal that will be slurped up by even the pickiest eater. That’s a skill that will continue to benefit you well.

-Respect for delicate and native plants

From day one, you’ve always been sensitive to the fact that plants and fungi aren’t yours to dominate, that some technically edible things are simply too beautiful or ephemeral to eat. Others, especially the natives, have populations that must be protected.


-Foraging needn’t look a certain way

Thank you for not holding to any romanticized ideal of what a foraging must look like. For sure, there are people who forage with a basket spun of angel spit gently swaying from their arm as they tiptoe through the forest in perfectly dappled light with animated birds flitting from branch to branch around them. For you, foraging has largely been a sweaty, muddy, back-aching affair done with plastic grocery bags the neighbors have saved for you, and that’s never bothered you a bit. There’s room enough in the world for angel-spit basket foragers and upcycled-baggie foragers alike.

-Learn the trees first

I know, I really do, that when you were first starting out, you’d do anything possible to identify plants and get them to your dinner plate. In the rush, you skipped over some of the most important aspects of the environment, the one element that could give you more clues to what’s going on in a bioregion than anything else. Learn the trees first. Trees are the alphabet; all stories begin with them. Think of how many hours, enough to add up to whole days or weeks lost, you wasted by searching for Morels under Plains Cottonwoods and Peach-leaf Willows when you couldn’t distinguish between those trees and Narrow-leaf Cottonwoods under which morels grow in Eastern Colorado. The arm-span of one adult equals approximately 50 years of growth in a tree, so you can tell just by looking at the circumference of a tree whether it predated white settlement in a particular area. Knowing bark patterns and overall shapes of trees helps you spot new peach, plum, and apple trees while wandering around in the off-season, which is an important aspect of scouting new locations.

Types of tree buds

-Learn botanical names

Botanical names seem big and scary because you didn’t grow up learning them. They aren’t as cuddly as common names. They’re long and odd and you can’t pronounce them. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Nobody really knows the correct way to pronounce them. Do your best, and understand that in doing so, you are communicating. Latin names are important. In the beginning, it is so tempting to only use common names. Then you start to understand how nonspecific common names are, and how the names pigweed or snakeweed could refer to any one of a dozen plants. When it comes to accurate identification, botanical names are everything, completely essential, non-negotiable. When you realize that plants are from the same family, you’ll start to understand characteristics they have in common. There are about a zillion species of Mustard in your area. Knowing that the flowers of Mustard plants have four petals arranged like a “+” sign and their seeds tend to spiral up the stem like a squirrel tail helps you to immediately place an unknown plant as belonging to the mustard family.

-Know which plants are on the invasive species list

You are now aware that there are two different viewpoints on invasive species. Some believe that they are a threat to native plants, and must be fought at all costs. Others think that they are a part of the flow of change on the planet, and can’t or possibly shouldn’t try to be managed. Regardless of how you feel about the subject, it is important to know which species are invasive in your area for two reasons. The first is that invasive species are the ones most likely to be targeted for herbicide sprays. Secondly, invasive species are usually some of the most abundant in a given area, so you won’t impact their population by harvesting them at will.

Wild asparagus

-Take a class

You endeavored to learn foraging all by yourself. While there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s no reason to do so. Translating what you’ve read in a book to the field is flat out difficult. Nothing can replace first-hand knowledge from someone who already knows what they are doing, and seeing/smelling/touching plants firsthand does wonders for remembering them. Take a class! Take advantage of the knowledge of more experienced foragers and go out on plant walks with them, join forays with the Mycological Society. Even if you don’t enjoy being around people, it enhances your ability to learning plants.

-Label pictures, even if you are only guessing

Congratulations on taking pictures of what you are harvesting, for taking pleasure document the plants to help you learn. But for Pete’s sake, if you don’t label those pictures, they are darned near useless later on. There is simply no way to sift through all of the thousands of unlabeled pictures you have archived to find the one you need. Sort them by seasonal and plant-specific folders, and label as many as you can manage. Even label plants about whose identity you are still uncertain with your best guess and a question mark.

-Have a well-labeled and easily accessible pantry

Having come from a family of hunters and canners, you already knew to label everything you put up. Mercy, though, those few that sneak past you can really be a nuisance. Remember how you thought putting away dried plants in any old tin you could find from the thrift store was a good idea? They did indeed keep the light out, and with the lack of humidity on the Front Range, keeping moisture out was never an issue. What you didn’t anticipate was that having tins of every shape and size made them very hard to manage on the shelf. Worse, the fact that they were disorganized and you couldn’t see into them kept you from using the plants you’d stored. You didn’t remember those rose petals you’d put up until it was nearly time for them to bloom again. You used them eventually, but that kind of thing is really a shame. You may be a messy person and like it that way, but in this case the anal crowd really has it right – greater organization in the foraged pantry leads to greater efficiency, which means you make better use of all of those beloved plants you harvested. Pantry stores are meant to be used, not turned into a museum.


-Know both the ideal and the easiest way to process something

Alright, so you spotted that amazing recipe and you have your heart set on making it, say apple-sumac powder. All well and good, except you are exhausted from foraging nonstop throughout the growing season and can’t bear to prepare a single recipe more. Keep that ideal recipe in mind, and make it if you have the energy. However, if you’re too worn out to peel, core, slice, dry, and powder apples, no big deal! Instead, core the apples, cut them into fat slices, and dry them. The task barely takes a few minutes, and dried apples keep forever and are loved by everyone.

-Know what processing can be put off until the off-season

I know, you couldn’t have imagined that you’d be completely engulfed by foraging, that it would become your deepest passion, your whole life. As it started to consume you, though, you realized how much time it took, and that with the short growing seasons where you live in the Rockies, there isn’t enough time to pick and process all the foods you want and need to get through the winter and also work other jobs. Relax, there are tasks you can put off until the off-season. Ditch Plums can go straight into a bag and into the freezer. Acorns can be roasted then frozen in their shells. Black Walnuts and Pine Nuts can be picked from their shells during snow storms. Nettles can be dried, and later stripped of their tough stems on the longest days. Seeds can be harvest and left in paper bags until you can deal with them. Manage the best you can, get help from extra hands and pay them with a good meal. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed.

foraging sloe-Speaking of the off-season, study then

Hey there, grasshopper, you live in a place where there are no things growing for 5+ months per year. Hibernation time is important, but think also about how this time can be used wisely as a forager. Take out your copy of Botany in a Day, sign up for an online course, go out and master the identification of two different trees by their bark alone.

-Keep records from year to year

I realize that it takes time to keep a log of what you foraged day to day, what the weather was like, other thoughts you had about the conditions on any given day. It gives you so much in return, though. Being able to go back and see when a particular crop emerged from year to year helps you predict how the plants and fungi will behave in the future. And over the long haul, it helps you remember other events. You thought you’d never forget the big flood, didn’t you? Now you struggle to remember how many years have elapsed since it happened.

-Foraging and Herbalism

What you don’t understand now as a novice forager is that foraging and herbalism are two sides of the same coin, not separate fields. During the season in which you collect rose petals or hips for food, make a point of studying how those same parts can be used as medicine. Understand that in addition to making a really nice ingredient in salad dressing, rose vinegar cannot be beat for cooling the heat of burns, and make a double batch. There are all types and degrees of both foragers and herbalists in the world. Let the fields bleed into each other and integrate; they’ll add color and depth to your understanding of the big picture.


Little pat of Butter, I’m so pleased that you’ve finally found your place in the world, and the knowledge you are amassing. I love the way you can now look out across the land you hold dear and read it like never before, and how foraging has strengthened and enhanced your bond with your home. The wonderful thing about foraging is that you will never be able to know all there is to know, and a lifetime of wonder lies ahead of you.

Most sincerely,
The Mature (cultured) Butter

Wendy Butter Petty, Plant Healer


To read the entire, longer article in the Summer 2016 issue of Plant Healer Magazine (340 color pages releasing June 6th), you need only be subscribed:

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May 162016

IntroOne commitment of Plant Healer publications and events is to provide an accessible, non-exclusive nexus and welcoming home to the existing diverse community of herb users, nature lovers, and community healers.  Every issue of Plant Healer Magazine is a coming together of the wide ranging tribe, a plant-communal intercoursing and exchanging of ideas and tools, and each September’s conference in New Mexico is a rendezvous and reunion of like-hearted souls, students of health and agents of change. At the same time, we’re given to the mission of reaching out beyond known and self proclaimed herbalists, to fuel the interest of others, encourage interaction with allied disciplines, and publish and host new teachers, new writers, new voices with new perspectives and a different quadrant of knowledge to share.  Our guest post below is written by one such new voice, Ramona Rubin, since 2015 bringing to the Plant Healer Community a sharp mind and atypical skill set, a deep knowledge of medical marijuana science and issues, and an excited hunger to learn all she can about herbs and personal/planetary healing.  Her recent story serves as encouragement to everyone getting into this field or attending a Plant Healer event for the first time. The path of the Plant Healer begins with a simple moment of realization, and profound intimacy with a plant itself.  –Wolf & Kiva

Every Herbal Journey Begins With a Single Leaf-72dpi—————

The Herbal Journey Begins With a Single Leaf

by Ramona Rubin

It was just over one year ago that I attended my first Traditions in Western Herbalism conference. I was awed at the open-hearted sharing of herbal wisdom and inspired by those practicing a vibrant healing tradition. I was also significantly overwhelmed at how much foundational information about plants I did not know. The names of many plants swirled around me in waves of Latin, indistinguishable hues of leafy green against my ears.

I understand all the plants are all related, that they evolved from oceans of algae to colonize the land so many many years ago. I know modern genetic techniques are revealing further secrets about the evolutionary history of plants. Yet I felt like the outsider at a family reunion, hesitating on the sidelines just trying to make sense of the relationships and connections, catching clues as to who has co-evolved with whom, picking up glimpses of shared morphological structures, parallel phytochemical strategies, or niche ecosystem function.


Plant Walk at Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference

Plant Walk at Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference


Returning home from the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference last September, one of the first things I did was order a copy of Thomas J. Elpel’s Botany in a Day. I then consulted google for directions, and headed up to the East Bay Regional Parks Botanic Garden where I spent the afternoon meeting California Native plants, sitting with them, reading their ID tags and attempting to key them out. My first goal, I decided, was to first gain a broad and basic understanding of the family tree of the plant kingdom, the basics of how to recognize a plant as a member of its family. Once that was clear I would then learn everything else.

That first visit in the garden ended so beautifully, playing my flute in the lush creek canyon area at the bottom of the garden accompanied by the sounds of birds and flowing water gurgling stream. I decided right away that I needed to return, return often, and share this great learning place with others. A week later I sent a text out to a few herbalist and naturalist friends.  Five of us gathered in the garden. We made our way slowly, greeting and introducing one another to plants we know, ones that caught our eyes, ones we want to know better. 

It was winter, so the manzanita was in bloom, but many of the annuals were sleeping for the winter, and not all that showy. My friend Lauren paused by some modest little leafy sprouts as we passed the pond. 

“Do you know Yerba Mansa? This is an amazing healing plant here!” she exclaimed. 


anemopsis - yerba mansa


We all gathered around to learn from one another about Yerba Mansa and ended up sitting on the grassy lawn by the pond for the better of the next hour. Some of us were familiar with the plant in medicinal formulas, had never seen it growing, but knew of it as a local and sustainable substitute to over-harvested, ecologically-threatened goldenseal. Sitting there in the winter sunshine we crushed a fresh leaf and let the fragrant oils saturate our fingertips, the aroma spicy, pungent, deeply medicinal smelling.

On our way out, as the garden gate was being closed at the end of the day, I asked the gardener how to learn more about the garden and get involved.  “Our docent training program is about to start next month” he replied. 

Back home I researched the garden that was founded in 1940 and managed by the East Bay Parks District. For a modest subsidized fee I would receive over 60 hours of training, covering botany, California geology and geography, Indian uses of plants (ethnobotany), plant adaptations, pollination, seeds, gardening and cultivation, as well as how to lead tours. 

————-Tilia americana - American Basswood


My training began in January and ran through June. I rescheduled my work to allow for those blissful Tuesday mornings, spent half in lecture taking notes, and half walking the garden paths, learning plants and taking photographs I would later look up and annotate and post to the California Native Plants Society Facebook page. 

I took hikes as frequently as I could that spring when despite our severe drought wildflowers faithfully decorated the hills and woodlands. I discovered the amazing potential of my cell phone camera macro lens setting and spent hours identifying the plant in my photos using the Calflora website as a reference. 

When it came time to present a plant talk to my classmates I brought us back to the grassy field next to the pond. The shy tender little leaves that had graced that pond back in December had leafed out and flowered, and the Yerba Mansa was in full bloom. I was prepared and had done my research. I shared about the herbal uses of Yerba Mansa, the ethnobotanical lore of use in prevention of snakebite, occurrence at sites known for human habitation, springs across the Southwest. 


peeking through leaf-72dpi


I began leading full tours in the summer, opening the walks with recognizing the amazing beauty and abundance of the state. With great pride I would introduce those on my tours to those special plants whose hotspot of biodiversity are in the state. The manzanitas, the ceanothus (redroot), eriogonum (buckwheat).

Last fall I returned to TWHC at the new site in Cloudcroft, New Mexico. Another amazing lineup schedule full of topics and teachers of fascinating variety. 

This year, I sat in classes listening to healers discussing the botanical allies they turn to, what grows near them that they rely on and make medicines from in their homes throughout the country. The Latin names no longer washed over me in glazed-eyed waves. Names would elicit pictures in my mind, of friends back home. I’d recognize the genus, but maybe not the species, and think “ah, I know your cousin back home in California, your relatives grow there”.


Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference 2015 –

Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference 2015 –


I share this story because I am amazed myself at what one year meant in terms of my learning. Finding local resources, connecting to the bioregional bounty, gaining a comprehensive overview of the plant families and an appreciation for the multitudinous variation of flower design. In getting to see the garden evolve and change over the last year I gained an appreciation of how the medicinal components of the plants represent ecological roles and communication with the environment. I gained a deep appreciation for botanic gardens in general, and their role at the intersections of conservation, research, horticulture and nature therapy. On the way home from Cloudcroft we stopped at a desert botanic garden in Arizona. My goal for the next year involves visiting more gardens and appreciating the ways that these different social values of conservation, medicinal plants education, habitat cultivation, intersect in harmonious and beautiful ways. I also strongly encourage herbalists to become involved in caretaking and promoting places where people can come together and learn about their local botanical heritage.


Ramona Rubin - Plant Healer


Ramona welcomes you to attend her two compelling classes at the 2016 Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference atop New Mexico’s Sky Island, Sept. 15th-18th:

Topics in Cannabis & Neuropsychology

(1.5 hrs)

This class will discuss selected topics of the psyche, which may include such ideas as memory and forgetting, the healing of PTSD, sexuality, or authentic motivation in the context of the endocannabinoid system and cannabis use. Our goal is to develop a working understanding of the endocannabinoid system and its role regulating the appetites, neural development and homeostatic regulation. Some of the material will draw on traditional uses of cannabis in precolonial cultures, and we will discuss the early psychological research published in the 1970’s on through some more contemporary findings, as well as the emerging movement of combining cannabis with yoga and mindfulness for healing benefit.  There is an emerging interest in cannabis for addressing women’s sexuality and we will discuss some ways to maximize these benefits with supporting herbs and formulas.

Exploring The Water Garden: Stories of Aquatic & Riparian Plants

(1.5 hrs)

According to many creation narratives, including that of science, our planet earth was once a watery soup. Plants evolved to colonize the emerging habitat of dry land. In the garden mythologies of the planet, water is a key element, and a necessary ingredient in life. This class will take a metaphorical walk through the water garden, encountering some key allies adapted to an aqueous or riparian habitat. Central to our exploration, the sacred lotus, will be encountered from global religious and spiritual traditions, as well as the wonders of modern chemistry. Other plants we may encounter along the way include cattails, clubmosses, horsetail, yerba mansa, water lily, water mint, calamus, and watercress.


For more information on this event, or to take advantage of the advance discount tickets, go to the Events page at:


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May 102016


Now Available for FREE Download:

Herbal Education Guide & Herbal Schools Directory

Every 5 years Plant Healer Publications produce for you a Directory of herb schools and online learning opportunities, along with an evolving educational guide describing our options as to what, how, where, and from whom to learn more from as we each continue our lifelong studies and practice of plant medicine. 

Your complimentary 2016 to 2020 Directory is now available to download and share.

Plant Healer Herb Schools Directory

Download Now:

Free 2016-2020 Education Guide & Herb Schools Directory 

Created as a service to the community, we encourage you to spread the link widely and freely so that everyone who wants can make use of this information while planning one’s continuing learning path.

(Please Share!)

Mar 292016

Please Help Us Spread The Word 

About the 2016


The Herbal Resurgence


Your help is needed again getting the word out: Facebooking, putting up TWHC Posters in your area,  and distributing Postcard Announcements if you have or know of an herbal-related retail business.

Growing a Resurgence

It is our mission not only to provide an annual “home” for the returning TWHC tribe, but also to inspire new folks to participate in the excitedly growing herbal resurgence.

Please be so kind as to announce TWHC 2016 on social media, distribute cards to your customers, and print-out or request from us color posters to put up.  We’ll do what we can to outreach your business in turn.

2016 TWHC Postcard -72dpi

New TWHC Postcards

If you have 300 or more herbal customers, we can have a batch of color, postcard sized announcements printed and sent directly to you for distribution.  It’s great if you can put one in each customer bag, or in outgoing shipments when you fill orders.  We can also add your business logo the the front if you’d like.  Please email us your physical address, and tell us how many cards you think you can use between now and the end of August:


2016 TWHC poster

New 11×17 Posters (300 dpi for Printing)

It’s been a few years since we made large posters for this event, but we couldn’t resist for 2016, hope you like how it looks!

We’d love it if you would either print out or have us send you copies to put up at herb stores, schools, and cool hangouts in your region or town.  It’s best if you can get permission from store managers or owners to leave them up until August, in store windows facing the sidewalk, and on or near the checkout area.

If you need us to snail mail you some copies, please email with your physical address and how many posters you think you can put up:

If you have access to a large color printer or copy store, please just download and print out this high-res (300dpi) JPG poster:

2016 11×17 Color Poster File


Posters & Banners For The Internet (72dpi for online use)

For using with your Blogs, Facebook, Instagram and so forth, we have a few options.  Please simply click on, copy and paste your choice of the following 72dpi images, thank you!:

2016 TWHC Announcement-72dpi

2016 TWHC poster 2 -8x11-72dpi

2016 TWHC Masquerade Ball Poster-72dpi

2016 TWHC Spooning The Cool poster-72dpi


Thank you so much for caring enough to take the time to help with this outreach effort.  Hope to see you in September atop Sky-Island, and to hear from you anytime!

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Mar 112016


Plant Healer’s Herbaria Monthly Supplement

…54 color pages of herbal info and inspiration including an excerpt on Aralia/Spikenard by Jared Rosenbaum, a reprint of Paul Bergner’s great Plant Healer Magazine article on Herban Legends, Elka’s yummy Fennel Frond recipes, and an excerpt from Maria Noel Groves new herbal basics book, introducing the subject of Reducing Histimine and Mucus.

This complimentary Spring issue releases Monday, Mar 14.  To be sure of getting your free link for every Herbaria Monthly, simply fill in your name and email addy on the left side of the screen, at:



Deadline for Registration: March 22nd, 2016

Plant Healer Magazine columnists Juliet Blankespoor and Asia Suler are creating one of the truly most comprehensive, useful, and graphically beautiful courses for herbalists ever.  Their full Herbal Immersion Course will be available for sale in April… but until then, they are offering a free, no-obligation, introductory mini-course that we recommend everyone avail themselves of.

To sign-up, click on the following Plant Healer link before the 22nd:


Handcrafted Herbalism Free Course

Click Here for your Free Course:


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Mar 072016


Dearly Needed Are The Committed Few… Herbalists

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

An Excerpt from the Spring 2016 issue of Plant Healer Magazine, now available for download by subscription from:

pond lilly flower 72dpi

The very last message you’d think an herbal magazine would want to put out there, is that an herbal practice isn’t ideal for all.  But if the leafen slipper fits, wear it!


Many years ago, I was partners in an art gallery on the historic Taos plaza, in northern New Mexico.  While this ancient settlement had long been known as an art and writer’s colony, home to such eclectic impassioned misfits as D.H. Lawrence, by the mid 1970s its prime real estate had been taken over from the Hispanic locals and gentrified by the marketers of generic paintings and tourist teeshirts.  Visitors from Texas and California could find the exact same souvenirs in shop after shop, while the upscale galleries mostly featured variations of the same R.C. Gorman style five-minute portraits of stylized Indian maidens with their iconic clay pots.  Depending on one’s income, a vacationer could choose either high-brow or low-brow wall decoration without hardly a single diversion into the otherworld of mind opening, heart wrenching, soul stirring arts.  

Mountain Unique Gallery 72dpi

Our “Mountain Unique Gallery” was thus an anomaly, vividly contrasting with the surrounding commerciality, sameness and normality, employing a cadre of visionary hippie craftsmen and several intense native artists from Taos Pueblo.  Inside, a glass pyramid display case held strange handmade silver talismans, Mayan styled eagle pendants with chatoyant opal eyes, red catlinite medicine pipes, hand forged knives with ancient mammoth ivory handles scrimshawed with a delicate lacing of colored blossoms and fanciful green leaves.  Walls were covered with Mexican retablos showcasing Dia de Los Muertos skeletal dancers and the holy Virgen de Guadalupe, with paintings by myself and a posse of relentless culture shifters – surreal landscapes and even surrealer mindscapes, mandalic medicine wheels and inspirited wildlife, glowing Peyote buttons and wandering medicine women.  Sage incense and strange music spilled out the door and onto the sidewalk surrounding the plaza, swirling amongst those passing there, and acting as a sort of filter – gently dissuading the most staid, tentative or typical browsers while enticing those on a search for the authentic, the magical, the unusual.  And to settle the matter for the curious but uncommitted, a custom made stained-glass window set into the gallery’s turquoise blue door spelling out these telltale words: “Not For Everyone.”

Upon reading this missive in colored glass, nearly all would pause with the door knob in hand, then press their face closer to the window to see what destinations of the imagination this portal might provide.  Of these, a majority would then turn away, sometimes picking up their pace, hurrying on to the next shop as though pursued by some barely forgotten dream.  And some – not “everyone– sensing their flawed yet wondrous selves to be something other than ordinary, would be drawn into the experience, into a personal inner journey that each scent, sound, and image in turn encouraged.  No one was barred or excluded, but the honest, expressive authenticity and palpable spirit of the space and its artists resulted in the thousands of monthly Taos visitors self-selecting who among them would move on… and who would enter and be opened, behold and participate.

I tell you this story, because it is much the same with herbalism, natural healing, and the plant-loving folks who study and practice its craft – whether or not we realize, and whether or not we yet value the natural processes and dynamics of distinction and selection.  There be no need for stained glass exclamation or the holding of signs, for it to be evident that plant medicine is also “not for everyone.”  Nor do we need to intentionally assume the work of filters ourselves, excluding those we think undeserving and certifying those we accept, because it is the constitutions and characters of people and the character of herbal practice that together provide the sifting and the assignments.  

You might wish, like I have, that every living person was interested in learning something about plant medicine, so as to be less dependent on the expensive and often unhealthful modern medical system.  And you might like to think that everyone with a strong interest would also have the innate characteristics and make the life choices necessary to effectively practice this healing art.  It is a function of both evolutionary specialization and human diversity, that individuals be born with different constitutions, tendencies and responses, that we grow up with varying degrees of different abilities, with specific weaknesses and strengths, and with a wide range of natural inclinations and developed interests.  Assuming we follow our hearts and callings, pay attention to our deficits and utilize our blessings, we might each find an individualized role that best contributes to our mission, our health and wholeness.  And of course, there will always be those who choose to turn away from any wafting new scents and unfamiliar music, rushing past any doorways to derivation and distinction in order to stay in line with the norms, conform to the expected, and maintain one’s comforting place in the crowd.

Not Everyones Cup of Tea 72dpi

It’s okay that so many are pulled towards other interests and fields than herbalism, given the problems we could end up with if there’ weren’t a majority able and pleased to fill important conventional roles in established society, health techs to mechanics.  And it’s okay that some take an interest in herbalism and then drift away, because people’s health outcomes are not something we’d necessarily want in the hands of the uncommitted or unfocused, the dispassionate or unable, the less caring or less aware, the inexperienced or poorly informed.  It’s most helpful when an herbalist is completely into what they are doing, in love with each aspect and component of the work as well as with healing’s worthy aims and botanical means, determined to continuously improve, and clearly feeling joy or satisfaction in the manifesting of their practice.

Herbs are for everyone, equally, I think we can agree, with no one undeserving of their gentle aid.  But herbalism – an herbal practice where one makes medicine or advises clients, a lifelong cleaving to its truths and to its dissemination – is truly not for everyone.  It’s not for everyone because it:

  • Heralds from and reminds us of the natural world that civilization largely seeks to distance itself from and elevate itself above.
  • Will probably continue to appear old-fashioned or New Age, as strange, suspicious, and fringe to the modernist, uninitiated person.
  • Will probably never be fully accepted by corporate drug interests or sanctioned and adopted by the medical establishment – and would certainly be altered, manipulated, depersonalized, denatured and harmed if it were.
  • Often fails to bring about the immediate symptomatic relief that most have come to expect from prescriptions of modern drugs.
  • Is most effective and helpful in combination with often undesired changes in the diet, activities and lifestyle that helped bring about the condition in the first place.
  • Is less effective and possibly even counterproductive if we’re either unable or unwilling to utilize critical thinking in our assessments of accepted “facts,” new research, and our personal experiences.
  • Cannot guarantee a substantial or secure income in most cases.
  • May not provide the personal recognition we need, or the status we desire.
  • Requires not just cursory attention but unending studies, which not everyone can be expected to give the time and effort to.
  • Is not a job so much as a service, purpose, mission, or calling.
  • Puts pressure on the practitioner, since results always matter.
  • Is greatly benefitted by exceptional sensitivity and perceptivity, and by uncommon intuition.
  • Constantly shows us what is ill, and challenges us to contribute remedy and balance.
  • Relentlessly pulls at our hearts, and stirs our compassion.
  • Is propelled by passionate insistence and total investment, something apparently only maintainable by the more obsessed and devoted of leaf turners, pulse takers and potion makers.

Go Your Own Way 72dpi

Being not for everyone, means that there may always be only a relative minority of people drawn to being herbalists, able to learn and discern, so enraptured with the powers of the plants or moved by the suffering of the ill that there is no other choice they can be happy making.  Does this describe anyone you know?  Because not everyone is herb-savvy, you already do or may soon fill a very important role in your chosen community.  Whatever individual knowledge, experience, vision, discovery, aesthetic and style that you bring to the endeavor, contributes to and helps define your special contribution.  Others are fortunately cut out to be tailors and web designers, and find the greatest satisfaction and purpose there – but you are likely most yourself when you are working with plants, assisting the healing of not just bodies but psyches, spirits, societies, and the wounded earth from which plant medicines arise.  You are likely most fulfilled in your being and doing – most wholly the gift you can be to yourself and the world – when you are invested fully in learning new herbal information, using that knowledge to help someone whose sick, tenderly tending herbs in your garden or in pots on your sill, wildcrafting in woody city lots or gladly wild places, or making tinctures and salves with an irrepressible smile on your face.

To this realization, we have the option of adding decades of determined learning and committed practice.  Not everybody is going to do that, but this is all the more reason why the world needs those who do: the self empowered, plant infused, admirably unusual few.

Herbalism is not for everyone… but it may well be for you.


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This article and many others available in the new Spring 2016 issue of Plant Healer Magazine:

PHM Sneak Peek Spring 2016-72dpi

Feb 212016

Sneak Peek: Plant Healer Spring Issue 



Releasing March 7th:

Nearly 300 pages of new information and trademark inspiration for herbalists.

Winter was wondrous here in the Gila (hee-la) wilderness where this magazine is produced,   again creating a mosaic of original unpublished writings from our diverse family of contributors.  Following are the Spring Issue table of contents, along with a description of the features and changes that you subscribers can expect. 

If you are not already subscribed, you can sign up now at:

PLANT HEALER MAGAZINE art by Melissa Du Bois

Our Spring 2016 cover, “Sisters of the Healing Plants,” is a stylized portrait of my copublisher Kiva Rose with her sister Hannah, posed on the medicinal river Alders that bless this river canyon… art that was created for us by another sister of Kiva’s: Melissa “Missy” Du Bois.  I’ve commissioned a series of botanical/healing drawings from her, and not because she is my Kiva’s family of course – but because I am greatly impressed with her compositions, colors, and especially her evocative, fluid lines that bring alive not just the herbs she shapes but even the fabric of the dresses and cloaks she portrays. Melissa welcomes a limited number of paid commissions each year, and you can reach her through us with any commissions or comments:

Our devoted Plant Healer contributors are almost all working on new projects for you.  Phyllis Light is developing her course in Appalachian herbalism, Paul Bergner continues to expand his offerings and plans a new book based on his PHM column on Herban Legends, Matt Wood has another book coming out, Thomas Easley has started a new school on his new rural property, and Juliet Blankespoor’s big herbal immersion online course should be available for signups sometime in April.

PHM Sneak Peek Spring 2016-72dpi

Thank goodness for the critical thinking and heartful teachings of our Herbal Rebel, Mr. Bergner – Pablo as I like to call him – doing as much as anyone to examine the wishful thinking and common falsehoods that can endanger our clients as well as sour practice and our field.

Phyllis Light provides a similar service this time, getting us to look at the dangerous tendency for us to diss conventional medical testing and discount non-herbal approaches.  And Guido Masé takes us further into matters of the FDA and herbal regulation, something that this very insightful herbalist teacher has had a lot of experience with lately.

Juliet provides us with a column on Purple Dead Nettle, and another on sprouting with heated beds – exclusive excerpts from her upcoming course and book.

Our partner Elka continues her food column with a look at ways to prepare legendary Leeks, and Sabrina Lutes uses the Herbalist Mother department to explore the possibilities for crucial but oft neglected herbalist self nourishment and self care. 

In her column Animal Medicine, Cat Lane exhibits her extensive knowledge and great love for both plants and animals, this time explaining the common health issues associated with animal rescues, and making recommendations for their herbal treatment.

Dear friend Jim McDonald writes about Nervines this time, the sense and sensibility of his foundational Herbcraft column being truly part of the foundation and strength of this magazine. 

Asia Suler continues to impress us with her developing communication and photography skills, artfully blending together ingredients of solid practicable herb info, personal experience, and a palpable sense of the spirit of plants and this ancient sacred work of helping and healing.  She continues her Seasonal Herbal column here, evoking the feel of Spring and its plant and other medicines.

Plant profiles are found this time in the rechristened department, Materia Medica, with a lovely article on Yellow Pond Lilly by first-time contributor Judy Lieblein, someone we hope to feature more from in the future… plus great excerpts from the new Materia Medica book, including one on Artemisia by the wise woman Robin Rose Bennett, and another on the medicinal benefits of Aralia by the very astute California mother, teacher and practitioner Christa Sinadinos.

Susun Weed’s fun and practical new piece on vinegar is one of our favorites of hers so far, and surely satisfies your many requests for more of her “how-to.”

Our department Seeing People features another article by Boston based plant healer Katja Swift on the topics of ADD and Autism, and two excellent never-before-published pieces by Sam Coffman, one on treating the eyes with herbs, the second on treating slow-to-heal wounds. 

Speaking of Sam, his piece on political correctness and cultural appropriation in the last issue of Plant Healer proved inordinately controversial, resulting in quite a bit of hubbub on social media.  It also resulted in a more nuanced exchange between author Coffman and herbal activist Dave Meesters, featured here in the Gathering Basket department, as well as my own paean to constructive disagreement and healthy debate which follows their debate. 

While some forms and means of disagreement can be good for our folk herbal movement, the same cannot be said of plagiarism and failure to credit, intentional and unintentional. While we believe all herbal information should be spread and shared, it is all too common to see information and even specific personal recipes repeated and reprinted without approbation or acknowledgment.  Herbalists work hard and often have very little income, so giving them credit is one of the best forms of compensation as well as being the honorable thing to do.  In addition, there are all too many cases of people copying each others’ business and event models, promotion, and even product names without credit or remorse.  Our thanks go out to longtime Plant Healer contributor Rebecca Altman for her well considered and well spoken article casting a light on this problem we can together find ways to address.

For our interview this time, we talk at length with herbalists, activists and TWHC teachers Janet Kent and Jen Stovall. Their stories and ideas encourage us to notice what needs healing, in our communities and in our psyches as well as in our bodies, and through their example they inspire us to each be all that we can be, acting on all we know, on behalf of all we love.  Don’t miss it.

Spring Changes to Plant Healer

Spring is a time of change and growth.  In the garden that is Plant Healer, one valued column has come to an end, and three new ones have taken root.

First, we bid a fond farewell to one of our most longstanding series, our friend 7Song’s “Botany Illuminated,” as his busy schedule forces its retirement. For the past five years he has made plant identification understandable by us all, an important skill for all herbalists whether we wildcraft or order all our plants online. We hope you’ll join us in thanking 7Song personally for his Plant Healer column and photographs over the years, and join in encouraging him to create new material for any of our Plant Healer departments once he’s able to take time for writing again.

Field botany, plant identification, herbal actions, plant ecology and more will now be covered by the remarkable California herbalist Shana Lipner Grover.  Her studies and experience equip her for this important role, and we hope you will enjoy the first of many installments of Shana’s new quarterly column “Botanica.”

Our second new column is “Of Wilderness & Gardens,” by New Mexico herbalist, geographer and ecologist Dara Saville, highlighting the complex relationships between people, plants, and the land.  Dara will deftly explore the dualities inherent to herbal thinking: logic and intuition, mind and heart, analytic facts and inexplicable truths – and in the process, she will help bring us closer to ourselves, the plants we depend on, and the healing land we’re extensions of.

Our third new quarterly column is a commitment of Sean Donahue, a genuinely visionary herbalist, and translator for and advocate of natural healing, neural and cultural diversity, the healing plants themselves, and all the oddkins, misfits, and rebels of the greater Plant Healer tribe.  Each issue his Intersections & Crossroads column will dance among the patterns formed by the overlapping of “people and wilderness, science and folk traditions, ecology and our health, healing and revolution.” Our early faith in Sean’s special gifts has proven well founded.

Finally, Plant Healer continues its evolution with a change in name for our “Plant Allies” department, its quarterly collection of in-depth herb profiles now to be called the less artsy but more explicit term “Materia Medica.”


March Deadline for Listing Schools in the Upcoming


A Plant Healer Service

Write us for an application soon if you operate an herbal school or online courses, or if you know about any schools who might want to be included. 

The 2016-2020 edition releases this coming May, with an extended deadline and applications accepted until the end of March. For full details or to apply, download the:

Herbal Schools Directory Invite (2016-2020)


Discounted Tickets On Sale For


Sept 15-18th – Atop New Mexico’s Sky Island

Plant Healer has helped inspire and support many herbal events over the years, each with its own particular flavor and style, and none that replicate the intense and curious mix of teachers, topics and attendees that is the peculiar Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference. Treat yourself to the information you need to be the best herbalist you can, along with an enchanted location and much deserved celebration. Full info and discount tickets now available by clicking on the Events page at: 


March Deadline for Articles


for The Upcoming Radical Herbalism Book

Last call for submissions for the upcoming Plant Healer book

“Radical Herbalism.”  Topics can be wide ranging, including herbal justice by whatever definition, free clinics, tips for street medics, arguments against certification and registration, suggestions for herbal activism, health care access, gender and class issues in herbalism, race and herbalism, bioregional herbalism, surreptitious guerrilla gardening, herbalist empowerment etc. Write for details, current contents, and deadline:


Share What You Know:


Your experience and perspective are unique, and we want to encourage you to trust you have insights and information that would be of interest and use to others in our community.  

We happily consider original, previously unpublished articles for this magazine, 

and submissions of articles (previously published or not) for 

Plant Healer’s free Herbaria Monthly ezine and its thousands of readers.  Please download the:

Submission Guidelines

The deadline for the Summer Issue of Plant Healer Magazine is April 1st.  

There is no deadline for submitting to Herbaria Monthly.


New 2016 Specs & Pricing


Advertising space in Plant Healer Magazine and Herbaria Newsletter is provided mainly as a service and prices are kept down for the sake of low-income herbalists and businesses that are just starting… costing between 1/2 and 1/10th of what other publications with similar subscriber numbers charge.  For info on advertising in the magazine and newsletter, 

download this pdf with its required Insertion Form:

2016 Advertising Guidelines PDF


And finally, please do write us at any time with your thoughts and comments… at:

(Thank you for sharing and re-posting this sneak peek)

Feb 012016

You may have seen it on Facebook or Instagram, or heard somebody talk about it – but yeah, we just received a new shipment of  Plant Healer shirts.  They are on better cotton this time, silkscreened with a new cream and purple design. Wolf used historic thistle designs from the Scottish rebellions to represent what is nothing less than a loving herbal resurgence: an uprising in the face of pharmaceutical hegemony and herbalism’s official status quo. Profits support the Plant Healer mission of empowering individuals and growing the tribe… including scholarships to Plant Healer events, and production of the free Herbaria Monthly (subscribe at  for folks unable to afford a Plant Healer Magazine membership. Presenting soft long-sleeved shirts, attractive fitted v-necks, and short sleeved tees that let you colors shine. 

Herbalist Wearables poster 3-72dpi

You can order yours by navigating to the “Wearables” page from our website:

Wearables poster 4-72dpi

(thank you for sharing this)

Jan 262016

Debate & Oratory old poster 72dpi


–––––––OPEN TO DEBATE––––––

Vital Disputation & Healthy Disagreement in Herbalism

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Plant Healer Magazine & Events –

A recent article in Plant Healer Magazine opened up discussion on the topics of political correctness and cultural appropriation as relates to the practice of herbalism.  There was at least one person we will not name, who admitted never having read the magazine, and yet used social media to call the opinionated, adept and earth-loving author Sam Coffman a “Donald Trump.” 

Trump of Herbalism 72dpi

This same otherwise caring person also accused the publishers of the magazine of being bigoted for printing the piece.  This of course hurt the feelings of my co-editor, who grew up a runaway in a ghetto, and who supports the emphasis we put on herbal access, justice and empowerment in spite of the heat that puts on us.  You might think this would result in our deciding to avoid running any controversial material or addressing any sensitive issues… but instead it increases our desire to raise important but difficult topics that impact our work and relationships, and to encourage healthy and respectful dialogue among the wonderful folks who often try to avoid debate.

Nullified 72dpi

Our herbal community places a high value on kindness and cooperation, with most herbalists being highly sensitive to the feelings and sufferings of others.  As healers, most of us would prefer to mend and confer than confront, even when dealing with a harmful untruth or unjust situation.  And there is also a tendency among some of us to treat conflicting ideas as both are simultaneously and equally true and applicable.  This well meaning effort to make all things compatible has the unfortunate effect of damping dialogue and debate, limiting the natural systems of testing and reassessing, and reducing the value of what is most real and effective.

Calvin disagreement 72dpiThis doesn’t mean we would be better off arguing all the time over some principal or “fact,” and we certainly suffer as a community anytime there is a personal attack, acidic gossip, online bullying, guilt-tripping sermonizing or self righteous shaming.  Internecine conflict among subgroups is divisive, and is one of the ways in which the dominant paradigm maintains its insidious control.  and yet it would be stifling if everyone thought alike, and debate – even heated debate – has the potential to lead to a clarification of our own understandings, as well as to the discovery of areas of agreement, shared values, and common aims.  Besides, our tribe is made stronger through a diversity of dissimilar opinions, opinions that change and adapt with each new bit of input and information, with each intellectual and moral challenge.

Do we require an apology from the facebook attacker? Not at all, I for one am pleased people care enough to raise hell.

That said, there is for almost everyone reason and opportunity to make amends.

It would be great if our movement were free of moralizing, bickering, and infighting, granted… but at the same time, we could also use just a mite more productive disagreement.  




1. lack of consensus or approval


Lack of approval and consensus can be a good thing.  Let me explain.

Consensus – getting every relevant person to agree – is in some ways optimal for groups involved in things that greatly matter, including activists making decisions that could jeopardize their cause or their lives, and healers of any kind on whom the health and well being of a person even partly depends.  On the other hand, expecting or holding out for consensus has again and again derailed what could have been meaningful action on the part of environmental and social activists from Earth First! to the Occupy movement, and the tendency of herbalists to adhere to “common wisdom” and “accepted truths” has at times reduced critical analysis and experimentation, hampered new discoveries and slowed the development of new perspectives.  Consensus can also lead to inflexible and potentially inaccurate dogma, with a diversity of thinking being replaced by unquestioning conformity and group-think assumptions.  Without variance, discussion and debate, herbalism is in danger of becoming increasingly dogmatic and inflexible.  We surely do not want to become like a posse of church ladies, tsk-tsk’ing the unenlightened, nodding in unison at each other’s righteous umbrage.

What I recommend is something between: seeking agreement and an alliance of values and approaches without constraining analysis and creativity, or dissing variance. 

Gandhi Honest Disagreement 72dpiWe don’t need to approve of something for it to have at least subjective credence and value.  We likewise do not need any other herbalist’s, herbal organization’s, or government agency’s agreement and approval to be correct in our opinions or methods, or valid when it comes to the roles we fill.  Not the conservative medical establishment’s approval, nor the approval of the meanly ridiculed politically-correct “PC Police.” 

And no matter how rationally or objectively “right” we are about anything, we undermine its truth and power when we try to insulate it from either the appraisal that tests it or the disagreement that contrasts, challenges, and thus enlightens and vitalizes it.





1. a disagreement or debate

It is the nature of a majority of caregivers to shy away from impassioned opinion, disagreement and controversy.  Many herbalists tend to avoid contention and blogs for disagreement 72dpithe “negative” even when it involves important issues of government regulation and certification, the intersection of social justice and herbal practice, of access and affordability, the healing of both the social body and our physical bodies – while those who are most predisposed to debate tend to be focused almost exclusively on social issues, and are often moral absolutists certain of the righteousness of their stance.  They may come across as loud and indignant, or alternately claim they are above the fray and only concerned with staying positive… in either case communicating possession of an elevated understanding and moral superiority even when addressing topics like elitism, racism, and hierarchy. 

This is not, however, a good argument against airing our differences and disputes.  Social issues cannot be separated from healthcare issues, and I think it would be great to see more disputation over the specifics of an effective herbal practice, an airing of strong differences of opinion about herb actions and uses, dosages and combinations.  Disputes over terminology and definitions, over invasive species and the impacts of human sprawl on plant and animal habitat, over how we present and represent ourselves to the rest of our contemporary society.  Disputes about the best soil to grow a certain herb in, which parts of the plant to use, and whether it is plentiful enough for us to ethically harvest. 

The effects on the herbal community of a “shaming culture” that pillories individuals for their opinions are more caustic than any wrong-headedness.  And reasoned, compassionate disputes are so much less harmful to our community than social media attacks, backroom nastiness, hidden agendas, ignored injustices, or undisputed untruths.  Disputes are downright healthy whenever they inspire applied critical thinking, leading to an open-minded and reasoning analysis of our own cherished ideas as well as those of others.

Agreement handshake 72dpi“Dispute” is a Middle English word with origins in the Latin disputare meaning ‘to estimate.’  Its origins can be found in dis – meaning separate or apart – and putare meaning to “reckon.” To dispute is t0 risk the consequences of disagreement in making and announcing your thoughtful estimation.  This estimation requires separating out factors and features in order to better reckon their truths, relevance, and effects.  And we’d best apply it to every aspect of every thing.  Nothing is, as the saying goes, “beyond dispute.”  There is nothing that shouldn’t be explored and estimated, and then re-explored and estimated again!  No topic is too sensitive to be considered off-limits, and no examination should ever be dissed as heretical.  Look at things from one direction, then another, and then another, seeking not only the most comprehensive understanding but also the most healthful application or response.

Disagreement quote 72dpi





1. a discussion on a particular topic in a public forum, in which opposing arguments are put forward

For the past five years we have found it nearly impossible for us editors to get reader reactions to specific content, receiving instead simply general compliments on the overall mix of skills, information and ideas, perspectives and approaches in each nearly 300 pages-long issue of Plant Healer Magazine.  We have run anarchist urban wildcrafters next to conservative herbal gardeners, articles by Christian home-schoolers along with with pieces about traditional indigenous healers and by Goddess worshipping Wise-Women, the work of evocative folklorists beside that of exacting academics and scientists, and this diversity of experience and thinking has seemed to feed the consistent growth of the magazine as well as what Paul Bergner coined “a new herbal resurgence.”

It is, however, extra satisfying to me whenever any of our content has stirred passions to the point of online discussion, discourse and debate.  Heated conversations have at least the potential to add some light!  The expression “open to debate” makes sense, given that you have to have an open mind to be a fair and effective debater.

I greatly value those of our writers and teachers willing to voice strong opinions, while being open to the possibility of being mistaken… including Sean Donahue, Renee Davis, Charles Garcia, as well as Dave Meesters and Sam Coffman who continue the dialogue in the upcoming Spring issue of Plant Healer Magazine. It is the mission of this periodical and journalism itself not to push any agenda, promote any single tradition or approach, foster dogma or enforce any “party line,” but rather, to instigate estimation and critical thinking, to challenge every entrenched “status quo,” to encourage creativity, to showcase diversity of thinking as well as further those ways of living that contribute to human dignity and planetary well being.  It is our work – the good work – not only to spread empowering herbal information but also to seed and feed deep investigation of our themes and feelings, of our analysis, public discourse and debate… affecting and aiding others as we are able while making clear for ourselves what is real or not, from the stories we tell ourselves to the medicines we ingest and recommend. 

Debate illustration 72dpi

This doesn’t mean I want to avoid issues of right and wrong.  It is wrong to call a writer a bigot because they dare address issues like cultural appropriation which have been troubling and sometimes capturing most of the attention of herbalists of late.  And I dare say it is right to speak out about how ideas of race, gender, class and privilege impact individuals, herbalism, and our usually shared aims of making this a healthier and lovelier world.  If you have to pin me down, I would say it is wrong to stuff our feelings, wrong to vent without listening, wrong to be personally hurtful.  And it is right – if anything at all is right – to notice, to feel, to care, to freely express and share… and to act on the urge to help that so often follows among all you deep feelers, culture shifters, and plant healers.

On the subject of healing and caring I reckon you agree with me.  But I thank you, for all of herbalism, anytime you don’t.

–Jesse Wolf Hardin

(Please Share Freely)

Jan 122016

Plant Healer’s Upcoming 2016-2020


Invitation to Promote Your School of Herbalism or Online Courses

to tens of thousands of herbal enthusiasts – by participating in this special directory of physical and online schools

Deadline for Confirmation: Mar 25th  –  Deadline For Materials: Apr. 15th – 

Releasing: May 1st-June 1st, 2016

  Plant Healer Herbal Schools Directory Cover-72dpi

Every 5 years, we – the editors of Plant Healer Magazine – produce a special Herbal Schools Directory describing and listing the contact info for a majority of online courses and physical schools, and featuring a detailed Herbal Education Guide to help potential students decide which opportunities will serve their interests and needs best.

We’d love to include you in our upcoming PDF edition, with a listing and description, and/or a profile and mention in the text of the introductory Herbal Education Guide article.

The basic listings are FREE to you, so that even the smallest schools can be listed and described.  If you choose, paid Promotion Packages will get you even more coverage and visibility while supporting this service.

If you have a physical or online school, please fill out the application and return it before mid-March to be listed.  Or if you know of someone with a school, please either tell them about this post or give them this Link:

PH’s Herbal Schools Directory Invite & Application

Jan 062016

Plant Healer Magazine’s Free




Anniversary Supplement Graphic 72dpi

The Winter 2015/16 issue of Plant Healer Magazine has been released, with a record 350 pages of herbal information and skills, and featuring a special 128 pages of special Anniversary sections celebrating this publications 5th Anniversary.  For any of you who are NOT a subscriber and missed it, we have prepared a FREE PDF supplement filled with overviews, reminisces, an interview with Jesse Wolf and overview of beautiful herbalist art. Click here to download:

Plant Healer Anniversary Celebration Supplement

PHM Anniversary Supplement Contents


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Dec 082015

Deep Discount Tickets to the 2016 Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference

$100 Advance Discount – Good Until Dec. 30th Only

2016 Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference

TWHC – The Herbal Resurgence – is the annual gathering of folk herbalists and culture-makers held the 3rd week of September in a vintage lodge in enchanted forests, high atop Southern New Mexico’s sky-island. In 2016 there will again be over 50 unique classes like nowhere else, taught by some of the most moving of thinkers and practitioners of our day.

For the month of December only, advance ticket purchasers are rewarded with the biggest discount of the year, with $100 taken off the regular adult ticket price for this limited time only.  These bargain tickets are on sale now, but will expire at the end of the month.

For more information or to get your discount, click on the Conference section and then the registration page at:

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2016 THWC Poster 2-72dpi

Dec 042015

Announcing Juliet Blankespoor’s Incredible New Online Classes – Beginning With Her


It is always an honor to help spread the word about the good works of our Plant Healer Magazine writer/teachers, and never more so than in the case of dear Juliet Blankespoor’s new Herbal Immersion online course available January 8th.  With the help of PHM columnist, Asia Suler, Juliet has created one of the most credible, comprehensive, and aesthetically enticing set of courses ever, steeped in her years of hands-on experience, and illuminated by her beautiful photography.

If you would like to start your studies immediately, you can begin now with her already active Medicine Making modules, and receive full credit towards the full Immersion Course when it releases.  This Medicine Making portion teaches how to make herbal preparations of all kinds, kitchen medicines, and topical herbal treatments. You can both get a special advance discount price and support Plant Healer projects by registering through this link:

Chestnut School Medicine Making Course

Juliet Medicine Making Course-72dpi

Click here:

Chestnut School Medicine Making Course

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